Do you remember the windows screensaver called something like shooting stars?
You looked at a black screen with white dots coming toward you. But the dot would never hit the middle of the screen. It would always go off to one side right at the end.
Last night I stood on a bridge during the ends of a snow storm and watched the snow flakes fly at me. The wind was whipping in my direction, and the snow seemed to be flying directly toward me, right at my face, but few actually hit me. And I remembered being that little kid watching that screen saver, placing my pointer finger right in the middle of the screen and being almost annoyed that the star never hit my finger; it always veered at the last minute.
There are so many “almosts” and “close calls.” So many stars that never hit your finger, so many snow flakes that don’t hit your glasses. It feels like if you just moved your finger a little to the left or right, or ducked your head just the littlest bit, that something would hit, would stick.
I’m moving to Boston after coming to the hard conclusion that, as much as my heart is in Maine there just isn’t a place for me here. Boston has opportunities and all kinds of things that Maine just doesn’t.
I can’t help but wonder if I’m just moving my finger an inch to the right, ducking my head a little, hoping to catch that illusive star or some errant snowflake. Will it make any difference? I’ll still be the center of wherever I am. Will things always just fly by, some looking like they will hit, and some so far from me as to not even try to grasp?
In that screensaver you can change two of the settings: how many stars and how fast. Maine has very few stars, and things move pretty slowly. You can trace each star’s trajectory. Moving to Boston is like ramping up both of those things – things will fly by, there are opportunities, and more opportunities means more of a chance that I can shift at the right speed at the right time to catch one. But I also can’t follow each opportunity. I can’t hope to see every option before needed to grab.
Maine is slow. Things will happen today… or they won’t. You move at your own speed in a lot of ways. The people at the bank know your name, you almost always run into somebody you know when you leave the house, and people shovel driveways for other people or help them if they are at the side of the road. Once I got pulled over because my tail light was out, and the cop offered to replace it for me if I had a spare.
I grew up in Los Angeles, and I’ve lived in Boston for varying amounts of time. They are cities. Nice things happen, but they are more spread out. People are more cautious. Here I have no problem leaving my computer, wallet, and backpack sitting at my chair in the coffee shop or library to walk around, go to the bathroom, order another drink, or step outside to make a phone call. It’s safe here. I don’t lock my front door or my car door anymore. I’ve even gone so far as to leave my keys in my car when I’m at home or at a friend’s house on occasion.
Those things can’t happen in cities. And I’m going to miss it. I can move quickly, I can adapt. But I do like my slow moving stars.