I’m leaving my apartment.  All I want to do is get out, go.  I run my hands down my thighs. Through my jeans I feel the metal mess that is my car keys. In my back pocket, there’s my leather wallet.  Shit, I think, I forgot my cell phone.

I’m already standing at the driver’s side of my car, the door hanging open and daring me to live by my own quick and natural desires. The sun is waving to the world, a beautiful orange as it nods below the black-lined horizon. Wal-Mart sits 300 yards from my apartment complex.  Plastic bags, crumpled receipts and wandering customers blow wayward.  Lining Wal-Mart, there’s 72nd Street. Cars mesh together in a slugging line of metal, plastic, lights, gas and noise — a sedan or two occasionally holding the whole system up to signal and make a right hand turn.

From up here, standing next to my 2001 Nissan, I can even see the bare concrete back of Doctor John’s. Aren’t there zoning laws?

The sun is just beyond all these shady structures, and it sifts through the barriers, the particular obstacles of 6:30 p.m., man has made for it. I remember moving into these apartments seven years ago, and where this Wal-Mart is was an old bowling alley, an abandoned office building my brother and I used to bet that meth-heads tore copper wiring from at night, and in between the two places was a vast green field. The grass was a foot long, and patches of the field were shaded by 40-foot trees. I picture myself and Alex playing catch with a baseball way down there.  We were so little then, and I can remember how, back then, the sun’s light seemed to belong to that valley.  Then I think way back, to a time before you and me. UNO’s south campus is gone, 72nd street is gone, the First Data building is gone. Doctor John’s is gone, all the people are gone, the smoke is gone, the noise is gone. I scroll through what this area must’ve looked like tens of thousands of years ago. Silent black fields by night. Green and brown grasslands by day.  Four billion years of the Earth forming organically, and it all coming together in one imperturbable moment.

Those were simple times, and sometimes I wonder if simpler is better, is right.  I throw my car door shut and run back inside to grab my cell phone, facing the fact that I’ve been conditioned to live in times far different than what nature once intended.