It’s twilight, I’m driving up Laguna Canyon Road to dinner with friends, and thinking about how much I love this time of day. I sneak glimpses in my rear view mirror to catch the last glow from the setting sun behind me. Ahead, the snow-dusted San Bernardino mountains are turning into a barely delineated dark hump in the gloaming.
And then like one of those scenes where the camera pans in, I notice the glimmer of lights in this one house to my right. It’s not a particularly homey place or anything, yet, I’m filled with this sense of well being, of belonging; all that’s missing is the smell of freshly baked bread.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. But this is the first time I’ve thought about it. The last time I remember getting snagged on the glow of lights in a random dwelling, was a single apartment in an otherwise dark building by the side of the freeway in Reno. I was on my way back from that writers workshop in Lake Tahoe. Again, nothing spectacular; in fact, the sight of that apartment would be downright depressing during the daytime. The time before that, that I can remember anyway, was six years ago on a trip home to Africa, Zimbabwe this time. Off to the side of a narrow dirt road at the base of a massive rock, sat a solitary hut, its scruffy thatch aglow from a flickering light inside.
This phenomenon is not about missing having someone waiting for me at home, or family all under one roof, that much I’ve figured out. Who knows who lives in these places I glop onto, could be a single guy. All I know is that when this sensation comes over me, I feel connected to whomever is inside that dwelling; it’s like we’re linked by the light. And by twilight, that time of day when sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere illuminates the lower in a most magical way.