Walking my dog Ebert is beginning to become an exercise in meditative, lost thought. We're shuffling along in the dark, and I can see the neighbor's yard from down the block. The street light is illuminating one tree's young leaves with green and the other with shimmery white. I stare at the street light, hypnotized, and I zoom back in time.
I hear the familiar call, an elongated, "Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllllllllllll, Jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllll." It's the dreaded call of my mom to come inside.
"Jill, the street lights are on," my friends tell me. They have been trained as well, and I think that they don't want to hear that call either. It might give their own parents an idea of lateness. Truly, though, my fellow little 7- and 8-year-old friends are just trying to protect me, but even at this young age, I am indignant with this parental logic and try to push it as far as I can.
Can you imagine, you are out playing, having a great time, it's summer, you're deeply into a game of kickball, and suddenly the street lights come on at 7 p.m. and you're expected to stop your joyous play? It's not even dark for another 2 hours! Which is exactly the reasoning I give to my mom. The absurdity of the situation is so obvious! She isn't buying it.
However, over the course of traveling along in the car on some early evening excursion to the grocery store or trip to my grandparents who live a street over, I come to the realization that on surrounding streets, the lights come on at 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. Only on our street do they appear at such a blatantly nonsensical time! That's it! I have cracked the case! Was I to be punished just because my abode rested 20 feet north or 20 feet south of reason? No, I say! No one can refute my unfettered, clear-eyed logic.
Apparently, someone could--and did. Cruel world, unjust fate! I wipe a tear from my young cheek.
To this day, when I see a street light pop on while the sun still holds enough blaze to light up the sky for hours, I mourn those lost hours of kickball.