The Home Depot parking lot is not the most popular place for an epiphany, but a week after the 9/11 tragedy, it came to me there, in brilliant orange and blue. We Californians were far from the horror, but we felt it in our hearts. We were connected, for the first time in our lives, by something both savage and mystical.
I was picking up a couple of 2x4s and had them over my shoulder on my way back to the truck, when I saw a man standing in front of his pickup, his hands planted firmly in his pockets. By the look of him, he worked with those hands, someone who wasn’t afraid of a hammer or a dent in the tailgate. He was rugged, grizzled with a day or two of growth on his face. He was big. I’d seen him — or someone like him — a thousand times over my years of construction, but I hadn’t noticed him as we headed our separate ways.
The man was taking it all in, looking west towards the sky. It was a quiet evening. The nation was still stunned. As I loaded my lumber into the truck bed, he turned to me.
“It’s a beautiful sunset, isn’t it?”
I looked up across the parking lot and saw a sienna crescent, the light glowing upwards to a low blanket of clouds that stretched across a vibrant endless blue.
“Yeah, it is,” I said.
Our eyes met, and his mouth turned up just slightly, both of us sharing something that meant more than anything had in a long time. He shifted on his feet, then moved to the door of the truck and drove away. I stared a few more seconds, smelling a mix of Doug Fir and exhaust, wondering what had happened to the world. I sat in the cab, listening to the sound of nothing.
Things change. The world shifts. And people, what they value and cherish and take for granted, change as well. And when the dust finally settles, and we start to feel safe again, things change back.
With a Perspective, I’m Les Bloch.