This evening, my daughter and I walked to the bank. There's nothing spectacular about that, except that my bank is in the very same shopping center that my mother and I used to walk to almost daily back in the late 60s (when I rode in an olive green stroller) and early 70s.
The ice cream shop with the wrought iron chairs and tiny paper cups of sherbet served alongside every sandwich is long gone. So is the Circle E steak place that served a "wranglerburger" I've never tasted the like of anywhere since, and an artificial Christmas tree festooned with balloons "for the little plate-cleaners". And the corner drugstore with its ice cream freezer filled with banana and root beer popsicles, and the grocery store...in fact, there's not one business left in that shopping center that was there in my childhood except for a tiny barbershop with an old-fashioned pole mounted on the wall outside. They've been replaced with Blockbuster and Radio Shack and a big empty space that was a hardware store and then a furniture store and now just serves as home to a childishly optimistic "for rent" sign.
But the sidewalks are the same. The night air is the same. And even though I'm sort of famous for being unsentimental, there's something about walking the same sidewalk with my daughter that I walked with my mother almost forty years ago that puts the world in perspective. I don't know why this struck me tonight, when I've walked that shopping center with my daughter a hundred times, with my daughter and my mother TOGETHER more times than I can count. But it brought back a slideshow of other moments when the past and present have suddenly become overlaid for a moment:
Walking at the drive-in, carrying my daughter and hearing my feet crunch in the gravel as we walked and remembering walking beside my mother as she carried my sister along that same path to the concession stand;
Lifting my daughter onto a picnic table in front of Dairy Queen and remembering taking my sister there--and sometimes a handful of other kids--when I was babysitting for her the summer I was thirteen;
Sitting sideways on the front seat of the car with the door open, pouring a drink for my daughter, and suddenly SEEING my own mother's sun-freckled arm doing the same in Lake Geneva during the summer of 1977.
And now, I suppose, it's time to get to the point, but I don't have one. I'm just enjoying the feel of fitting my sandals into my mother's footprints on an early summer evening.