Today I almost ran over my former neighbor.
I was driving to work, down one of 3 roads I take to get to the highway, and the one I drove on this morning was past our old address. The apartment that we first called home after living for a couple of months in my Grandparent’s farmette before it was sold. The apartment where I experienced my first roach. The apartment that first homed (secretly) our cat Darrell until the landlord found him. And then she gave in. The apartment where my heels went through the wood floor on my way out the door one morning. The apartment that hosted porch front bbqs with friends and family. The apartment that was the stepping stone to what I had thought would be buying our first home, having children, growing old. The apartment that held the couch that cradled Kevin in those first weeks of his cancer diagnosis before he went to the hospital. The apartment he never came to sleep at again because we moved in with my parents. The apartment that signaled that Kevin was dead. That’s what that apartment says to me now.
I stopped just in time. I looked up and saw her lugging her grocery bags while jaywalking. I didn’t get angry, I smiled. It caught me off guard. She was one of two exceptionally nice neighbors on that block. She would come talk to me while I watered our tomato and pepper garden that grew in pots on the front porch.
But she didn’t know it was me. Different car, different hair. Different life. I knew it was her though. As soon as I looked up and stopped to let her pass I saw my entire life in that apartment.