I awoke last Friday morning to gray skies and a chill in the air. It was the kind of coolness that always makes me think of summer nights on Nantucket. Where the dampness lifting off the ocean dances with the evening air and chills you to the bone. In light of the rainy forecast, I grabbed a cardigan and my red rain jacket as I dashed for the door.
After putting in a full day, I left work and headed out to meet Hope for dinner and a movie. We retrieved tickets and then started to make our way over to The Continental for something to eat. The wind blew a little or at least just enough to make me cold. I pushed my clenched hands into my coat pockets in search of additional warmth. As I buried my bare fists deeper, my left hand ran up against something. I knew it wasn’t money but I otherwise was unable to determine what exactly the neatly folded yet slightly crumpled paper could be.
Lingering on the curb, waiting for the light to turn, I plucked the unknown item from my pocket and started inspecting it. My eyes glanced over the handwriting that wasn’t mine. I soon realized that I was looking at detailed directions my friend Chicken had jotted down for me when I visited her in June. She had to work during part of my stay so I headed out to meet another friend for coffee. This was Chicken’s motherly effort to make sure I made it from point A to point B without a hitch.
"What's that?" Hope asked, peering over at the paper in my hands.
"Just directions. From a Boston trip earlier this year," I said with a smile.
Glancing at those directions brought me back to that rainy Saturday morning in June. I remember clasping the lined paper in my hand as I stepped out into the misty day and worked my way toward the coffee shop. There were landmarks like a brick wall on the left and a T station on the right, all of which were exactly where Chicken said they’d be. When I entered into the coffee shop, dropping my umbrella in the communal bucket, I neatly folded the directions up and tucked the slightly damp piece of paper away in case I needed them to return home. I hadn’t seen it since.
Standing on the Philadelphia street corner with Hope by my side, my mind did one of those cool camera tricks of pulling away so that a larger picture, a picture beyond the directions to the coffee shop, could be seen. There was the indulgent and relaxing dinner in the back room at Stella the night I landed in Boston. We sipped cocktails and glanced at passing plates piled with food as we narrowed down what we wanted to try. There was me yanking the crystal beveled knob free from the bedroom door as I headed to the bathroom. I made a silent squeal as I tried to halt the still moving door from slamming into the wall. There was lying next to Chicken in the darkness of night, giggling and talking into the wee hours of the morning. There was the crowded streets lined with Red Sox fans as we made our way to The Avalon to catch a KT Tunstall performance. And there was the pre-flight stroll through Little Italy in search of the bakery with the best Torrone. We lined up behind others, patiently waiting to retrieve the tasty confection.
The light finally turned green and Hope and I stepped off the curb and into the street. I folded the paper up, following the already present creases, and tucked it back into my pocket. Not because I’d ever again need to know how to get from Chicken’s house to the coffee shop in her town. More so because I liked the memories evoked by that scrappy piece of paper. I figured it was good for another few smiles. Especially on a rainy day when it’s sometimes hard to find that silver lining. Listen, putting your hand in your pocket and unexpectedly pulling out a twenty dollar bill is great. But finding a snippet of your past that immediately makes you smile is a heck of lot more fun.