I thought I was standing in a spot I’d never been, even though I’ve lived in Grand Rapids all my life.
I’d been walking around all afternoon on a writing marathon, stopping at various locations with fellow writers Erica and Colleen to write, and have a beverage. They were younger, hipper, city-dwellers, so they graciously lead me around until I finally looked up—and felt lost, displaced.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been in this very spot,” I said, more realization than admission.
The building straight ahead, which didn’t look like anything I’d seen in Grand Rapids, reminded me of Boston—where I’d been twice, but only briefly, with my family. Very Bostonian, I may have thought, proud of myself for being so well-traveled and architecturally astute: yes, I do believe it was from the Bostonian period.
But apart from my pathetic, worldly hubris, it was oddly unsettling being in such an unexpectedly unfamiliar place, a sudden alien in my own hometown.
Then we reached the end of the street and turned the corner.
A few weekends before, there was a festival with food and art and music. Streets closed to traffic filled with people walking or waiting in line forfood or listening to one band or another. I’d gone on Friday afternoon, and there, directly across the street from the corner where I was standing—my two writing companions at my side—I had been captured on local television, cramming souvlaki into my mouth.
All I had done was turn the corner and voila! I instantly went from being somewhere I’d never been to a place I’d been often—and just recently.
Of course, not really. Really I’m just pretty stupid—and unaccustomed to having a beer at lunch. But also: perspective can be a tricky little wench. She turns out the lights and silences all the voices calling out “We’re here, we are here!” And that darkness becomes our world, our past-present-future. Oh, then, if only we would turn the corner and search the wall with hopeful fingertips for that switch that would change everything.
All I had done was turn the corner, and I went from being somewhere I’d never been to a place I’d been often—and recently.
Note to self: remember, turn the corner.
Note to my children, my students, and you, patient reader: turn the corner.