I leave my Cambridge apartment mid-morning on a Friday. Usually I would be walking, but I am going to a store that is too far so I pull out of my driveway in our small, city car.
The first person I see is our neighbor, Christopher. I wave and he waves back, a smile on his face. Just steps away, So is walking toward her apartment that sits across from ours. She too smiles and waves. I stop and roll down the window. “Can I steal your mint again this summer?” She laughs. “Come anytime! You not stealing.”
On my right, John is watching as little Peter draws in chalk on the sidewalk. We have seen him grow from newborn baby to a seven year old. This week is school vacation and the weather is fully cooperating, enabling this city kid to enjoy the outdoors.
I drive slowly, marveling that I know my neighbors. But I need to move on – in the afternoon we will host a rehearsal dinner for a friend who will be married on Saturday, a dear friend I met when we moved to the area seven years ago.
I realize something. Our history is no longer just with people from “there,” no longer just with people from our past homes and lives. We have made history with people here.
Cecily Paterson’s excellent post Seven Stages of Reentry Grief takes the reader through the stages that Cecily has identified in order to survive and thrive in our passport countries.
Stage Four of Cecily’s post is called “Making Recent History.” She says this: “….I found that memories from 10 years ago appear more faded than memories from say, two years ago. ….”
It is liberating and wonderful to realize that we’ve made recent history; that we can now look at people who we regularly see and say “Remember that time? Remember that Christmas Eve? Remember that holiday? Remember that small group?” Photographs and stories have not only captured the old memories, but they are capturing the new. The album of our life story continues to fill, new pages added, recent history recorded.
My thoughts echo Cecily’s words: “Just by continuing to breathe and eat and live, I’d been able to make my own ‘recent history’.”
I smile and I drive on. Staying in one place for eight years has had its challenges. There are times when I have climbed the walls, and then rearranged the furniture; times when I couldn’t wait to head to Terminal E. But this day? This day I delight in recent history and in knowing the names of my neighbors. This is what it is to live in the present and I am grateful.