Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Summer Evening in the Suburbs

Summer Solstice

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Suburban neighborhoods come alive when the sun goes down in the high summer. In the hot, bright days everyone is hiding, trying to keep cool. Closed blinds, buzzing AC and blaring daytime TV keeps any evidence of the outside world out along with the heat and the sun. But come 9:30, as that bright yellow sun turns neon orange and sinks below the western horizon, the neighborhood seems to emerge like a night flower. Slowly and tentatively, but surely in that fleeting time between sunset and full dark.

Walking around the block there are neighbors to talk to. Catch up on neighborhood news, how's the baby, are the kids enjoying summer camp? The old man and his old dog teeter down the street, encouraging and supporting each other on their twice daily circumnavigation of the block. Doors and window have been thrown open giving you a rare glance into the inner sanctum of the split level ranch, the faux tudor, the tiny bungalow. It looks so much like yours, but the details make you morbidly curious - that lamp, that art, that bookshelf. A window frames the sweaty woman and her daughter doing dishes together. Another window shows a glimpse of the Jewish family enjoying a late late sabbath dinner. Children eating ice cream on the stoop, bare footed and bare armed. The man watering his roses.  The girl on her phone, on her back, on the grass. A cat stares from under a hydrangea in full bloom.

Todd Petit
Turn onto the open street again and see two bright stars in the sky. They are planets, Venus and Jupiter. They are close, close enough that your outstretched two fingers, like a blessing, would cover them both. These bright lights, the Lover and the King, look close but, like the woman with the dishes and the man with his roses, have great distance between them. The planets' distance is measured in hundreds of millions of kilometers, mind boggling numbers that stretch across a solar system. The neighbors, though, what unit of measurement shows strangers who live next door? People who know each others' cars, landscaping and faces, but don't know each other. Have never shared what excites them, what scares them. It might be a bigger distance, really, between the neighbors than between the planets.

1 comment:

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