The Long Way Home

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An excerpt from the upcoming book, The Lady Player’s Manual: How To Win at Love and Life by Trina Noelle

Early autumn comes to campus and right on the verge of the bustle, the fall sun does that thing that it does. That slight, magical shift between the last remnants of afternoon and not quite evening, slows the pace, lifts the brow and seems to cool the angriest of drivers.  I love that moment.  Angry fists on steering wheels let up and one by one each commuter allows themselves to officially wind down.  In the fleeting moments as they pass me by, I watch them all melt like chocolate can into the coming of the night.  There are varying degrees of this, but the streets soon seem less filled by hornets in cars.

At this time, it is about the doing and not the going. It is about soft transitions into homes, galleries, markets and shows. Men confidently slide arms around and hold the backs of the ones they hold dear–strolling as if they have their whole lifetimes to look at unimportant but interesting things in shop windows. No one cares about the coming winter during this warm, autumnal twilight. It’s not like the commercial Christmas, which tries each year to sneak in earlier than the previous year as if no one is supposed to notice. But tonight, there are no hints of Christmas—no shops getting ahead of themselves—there is nothing but leaves, pumpkins, mums, oranges, browns, reds, and soul-warming drinks and treats for all.

Each streetlight waltzes up my windshield as I drive slowly through campus and into the border towns where students and families are interwoven. Just outside my half-cracked, drivers-side window, a beautifully oblivious toddler high-steps on the sidewalk in her personal pink parade. Her hair is an unruly bounce of curls keeping time with her sure-fire gait. Just the sight of her brings a giggle to the surface of my lips—this wildly animated, affirmation of life. Brilliant mixes of people, like paint, pour into the night and fill the air with all sorts of musical conversation. Endless rows of eateries from the typical to unique make my mouth water in several different languages. The aromas are amazing–my firstborn and I attempting to commit all of the places to memory for future reference.

While some things have changed, enough has stayed the same. Luckily, there are still quite a few nostalgic haunts that have survived progress. Unfortunately, many places I loved and shared with friends are tucked away for good. However, I find that most memories are still fresh enough in my mind to spin into stories–delighting my son as we move toward home.

This is my utopia–so perfect in its simplicity and so complete with its imperfections. Maybe one day my son’s thoughts will reach back and recall a time similar to mine. Maybe one day he will be driving and I, looking wistfully out of the window, will hear words similar to the ones I spoke today. Maybe we will laugh and smile. Maybe we will shed a tear. Or maybe, just maybe, on a fall day just like this one was, the streetlights will again waltz up the windshield and we will realize that it is about creating memories from ordinary days—gifting each other with the transformational power of now.

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