Every weekday morning, I run across campus and through the neighborhoods. It’s weird not to be a student or a teacher or to belong anywhere in the school. Everything changes and nothing does. Sidewalks are shattered and patched with temporary asphalt; new students flow through the grass; crushed berries litter the paths.
When you do the same thing over and over, you start to see patterns. I’m not very adventurous, or fast, so for a while I wound up the same street every time, until I realized that the elementary school was too close and I was always going to have to dodge clusters of parents with small children on tricycles. The next day, I switched to the park: a string of dogwalkers, joggers, people on their way to school. I switched to another street. I awkwardly swung past an old man walking out of his house.
The next day, the same man, walking out at the same time. I cut across the street to avoid him. I didn’t want to make it a habit, to be predictable. It felt weirdly Truman Show-ish. All these people in their patterns, doing the same loops. It becomes harder to remember things when you fall into the same routine, or that’s what they say. Why this summer feels short, even though it’s no shorter than the summer before, or the one before that. Routine. Sometimes I forget where I parked my car at work because I’ve parked so many times in the same garage; I go to the wrong floor, I walk all the way to the end, and for a second I think my car is gone, until I realize it was never there, at least not that day. My brain just referred to the wrong fragment of memory, the wrong card in the index.