When I finished with work today, the house was empty and quiet—Erin out for a walk with a friend, Anna and Oliver at the UNC FARM swimming pool, Malia exercising at the gym—so I donned my sail-canvas apron and stepped over to the stove to prepare a batch of strawberry mango jam, listening to U2 and sipping a mango wheat beer.
An hour later, that activity done, I decided to walk down the gravel driveway to get the mail. The air was still warm from the heat of the day, I was wearing flip flops, the rays of the sun were horizontal through the green leaves and tall tree trunks. I smiled, thinking about my days as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the South Pacific, my evening walks up the dirt road to the Lironessa Co-op to buy rice or eggs or a can of chili tuna.
In the mailbox was an envelope from my friend Beck Tench. It was a typewritten letter, a response to a typed note I’d sent to Beck a few years ago. I read this letter as I walked up the path to the house. I stopped when I read this line: “I know these paths are made by walking, and I know there is hope and harm ahead in every direction.”
I looked around, marveled at the shape of the leaves of the young tulip tree to the right of me, and I smiled in gratitude for Beck and all the other friends who have written and typed to me through the years.
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