There’s a game I play in my neighborhood, while I’m walking in the evenings. I pretend to have an unlimited amount of money, in cash, and I imagine which house I would usurp. Would I choose the funky modern cottage with the floor to ceiling picture windows, tucked up high in the oaks and the moss like a treehouse? Or would I pick the classic white colonial brick with the red door? The crickets chirp awfully loud in the grass as I walk by that one.
It’s late spring, so the lightning bugs are just now beginning to blink. The nights here are still, with the only movements performed by the dozen or so neighborhood cats. The slink towards me, like ink flowing from a tipped-over bottle, rolling around the pavement and showing me their stomachs. One pushes my hand with its head, gazing up at me with emerald eyes. Their owners are inside their homes, watching the news, or puttering about their garage, or tending to their hostas and their bold pink azaleas until the sun goes away completely.
Since it’s dusk the lights are on in almost every house, and I can make out the shapes of my neighbors and their little evening rituals through their large-framed windows…have they changed into their robes and flannel pants yet? Are they staring out the window with a cup of coffee that will inevitably keep them up too late, leaving them groggy in the morning? One woman briefly buries her face in a basket of fresh laundry, inhaling the warm cottony smell. A teenage girl stares up at her bedroom window, maybe wondering if it would hurt if she jumped later that night and escaped for a few hours. Looking at each house is like watching a short, silent film. Tiny beautiful truths and haunting plots behind every door.