Technically, she is walking her dog, but as I watch from a sunroom window, I see she is dancing.  Her little mutt is trotting at the end of the leash while she moves to music pulsing through the ear buds; she steps sideways as she slides forward, then shifts back, her arms slowly rising, holding, falling.  She is mouthing lyrics, and her face shines in the morning sun,  suffused with private feeling.

I run for my camera, and — not wanting to interrupt her reverie or domesticate her dance — snap surreptitious, imperfect frames through the window’s glare.

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It happens  too soon,  anyway:  My neighbor emerges from his house as she passes and — instantly, completely — she reverts to a walk; she rejoins the world of the appropriate, the spectrum of emotion we may present without embarrassment.  She has constrained herself as we all learn to do, hiding not just our secret sorrow but our secret gladness.

But I have witnessed her quiet jailbreak, and in the witnessing, joined her.  For a few fleeting minutes,  I have seen part of her truth  —  her vulnerability, her hiding —  and it is mine, too.

Without knowing,  she has opened my heart, broken it and caused me to fall in love a little again, with all of us.


I am shopping at a big-box store or, rather, preparing to shop, when I notice a car parked not far from mine.  It is hard to not notice, as its trunk is a tableau, a prehistoric diorama of the kind you might have constructed with great pride and parental assistance in grade school.

The molded rubber figures are glued with heavy-duty adhesive to the metal, which has been painted — evidently in some long-ago,  sun-faded epoch — in a mottled fashion meant to imitate Earth before us.  I take a roughly round, unadorned patch of blue to represent a lake, around which the various ridged and horned creatures silently rear and roar.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The car is a Volvo 244DL,  first available in 1974, and it sports collector plates.  In more conventional hands, it might have been carefully restored and polished to the kind of gleam that declares status and invites envy.

Instead,  the car flouts prestige and incites laughter.  Another jailbreak — public, this time —  and again I feel myself joined to a person I will never meet.  For a few fleeting minutes, I have witnessed part of someone else’s truth —  an appreciation for the absurd,  a call to lightness — and it is mine, too.

Without knowing,  another stranger has opened my heart, gladdened it and caused me to fall in love a little again, with all of us.





  1. I love these “jail breaks” – so beautifully captured in pictures and words!


    1. Thank you. I always feel lucky when these little stories reveal themselves — much as you do, I imagine. I am so enjoying your work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for having the heart and eye that catches glimpses of private and Not-so-obvious public life, Cate. And the two statements about falling in love a little again … exactly. I completely get it.


    1. I know you do. Thank you, Rafiki.


  3. Love it. The car is fabulous. Such humor and joy!


    1. Indeed! I am glad I keep a little camera in my glovebox for such occasions, as my only phone is dumb, and it stays home. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, Steph. I hope all is well with you.

      Liked by 1 person

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