It was daylight outside and Rachel stood with the two men comprising the maintenance crew, both familiar to her, and they talked about the equipment that needed to be returned to the office. They were the last to leave the event. As she walked down and across a tiered dirt parking lot with only scattered cars she realized she carried an unrolled sleeping bag over her shoulder and right arm as if she had snatched it up off the floor and tossed it on like a toga. The only other people she saw in the parking lot were transit homeless, those who travel without shopping carts and only with a small backpack. They also had sleeping bags, and it occurred to her that someone might think she was one of them as she walked to her car, isolated in the near empty lot, sleeping bag over her shoulder.
She got into her car and threw the sleeping bag into the back seat and drove out of the lot, took a left away from the city’s main street and drove down hill to a secondary street. It was very familiar to her, a street she had been to before but not for many years, a street she had visited in “previous lives,” that is years before when she had other jobs, before she was married and had children. It was a street of her young adult life. It was a familiar street, not just in knowing its location, but in its feel and its atmosphere and how she felt there. Familiar as friendly, as safe, as a place that reminded her of a past lifetime and the memories were pleasant.
The buildings along the street were single story, brick with big display windows and recessed doorways so to enter the store you passed display windows on the right and left. The buildings sat flush with the sidewalk and the area had a past generation feel of busy, as if in the thirties or forties or in the fifties when she was a child and the stores were busy, and although on a secondary street parallel to main street, they had been frequented by loyal customers.