When I was a young girl, I used to ride with my parents in the back seat of our car. This was in the good old days when seat belts were optional and rarely used in the back seat. If we even had seat belts in the back seat, they had long been pushed down between the seats, never to be seen or felt. Especially on long trips, I would lie down in the back seat. Those old cars — the seats were so roomy!
For a few years, we had a station wagon and Dad would put all the seats down. Then I could lie down flat, having the entire back area to myself. If the seats were upright, we had a third row of seats that faced backwards. I used to love to ride back there, as well. It felt like another world.
From any vantage point, in those old cars, I would watch the telephone poles and lines passing in the country. Once we got into the suburbs or city, I would see windows alight in houses.
After dark, there were few houses that didn’t have lights. You could see people sometimes, depending on the height of the house and the placement of their windows. It seemed as though a lot of homes had their drapes or curtains open until bedtime.
I was fascinated by the people — or the portions of the people — that this view afforded me. Sometimes there were folks sitting down watching television, or gathered around a card table. Sometimes people were in their kitchen, doing dishes and talking. I might glimpse a mother putting her child to bed, folding laundry, or reading.
These glimpses were just moments in time as the car whizzed through the streets. A second for each window, give or take a half second. But each person or group seemed to have a story to tell. When windows were dark, I felt like I had missed an opportunity to see something special.
Now don’t get me wrong. This behavior from my very young childhood did not result in my becoming a Peeping Thomasina or engaging in voyeurism. But it did give me a lifelong appreciation for the beauty of people living and enjoying the simple pleasures of an ordinary life.
Today I still love taking drives, especially during our wonderful Ohio spring and summer seasons. Often you can see folks sitting on their front porches, visiting with neighbors. Children still play in the playgrounds with siblings, friends, and parents. Older kids might be at a skateboard park. You can see those who are mowing or taking care of gardens. A farmer might be out on his tractor or you will note canopies in back yards for large family gatherings.
These everyday stories of everyday lives, seen through my car window, always make me feel happy and, somehow, safe. It reminds me of the wonder and delight of being alive, enjoying the simple activities of life and being part of humanity. Email me at email@example.com.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.