The Sunny Side of the Street
Friday, July 27, 2018 at 03:03PM

There exists two sides of the street: the sun-bright, well-walked one with colorful storefronts and restaurants from which music spills through open windows to umbrella-covered tables. The sidewalks have well-designated lines in the shining concrete so that you can easily step from one block to the next if that is your thing. All is swept clean daily. Doors are open; you are welcome everywhere, and everywhere, people greet you as an old friend.

And then there's the other side--shaded, hushed--with dark alleys leading deeper into shadows. Although there is some pedestrian traffic, this side is not popular; after all, solemn offices and a few businesses reside in the upper floors while the stores below offer bongs and cheap tchotchkes or sport "Vacancy" signs. 

Just one crosswalk leads from the sunny side to the shaded side and it's one way only; all who find themselves on the shady side have either wandered away without purpose or been shoved out into traffic and forced to skirt danger until reaching the parallel sidewalk. 

While it takes but seconds to switch from the sunny side to the shaded side, it's a tedious, tortuous return. If you do manage to pass back to the merriment and vivacity of the first side, sad, frustrating, angry memories from the shady side will color each new experience. You will notice for the first time the plastic flowers embellishing the restaurants' decors, the too-sweet scents of passing women, the small crack in the corner of a window that is mostly hidden by a curtain.

Whereas in the sunny side, you had not a care in the world aside from purchasing the perfect gift for X or those new sneakers you just HAD to have, on the shady side, you cradle worries larger than yourself. Survival no longer means deciding between two trendy restaurants for your lunch. The world is racing at you from every direction in 3D and it's cruel. You must negotiate the obstacles coming from every direction and you fight against the ever-strong riptide that threatens to pull you under. You have left behind family, friends, aquaintances, to focus on saving yourself, or perhaps, as is most often the case, they have left you. 

Marooned on the shady side, you mourn the loss of gaiety, spontaneity, frivolity. After you sit for the required time allotted for grief, you notice others around you; they suffer as well, so you reach out, try to help. Aiding others somehow brings you comfort. For moments of time, you forget your woes. You find common bonds with fellow shade-prisoners; they embrace you as family might. You realize that this side is much more populated than you ever knew; in fact, most of the world is hidden here, in the alleys that were once invisible to you. 

Can you ever return to the light or are you destined to steep in the sadness of shade? You realize that you took for granted the light and in doing so, refrained from noticing the shade; even if you studied the shady side as an intellectual exercise, you could not have known it as you now do.

Was it something you did that caused you to end up here? Was it Karma, Fate, just pure bad fortune? Is there NOTHING you can do to return?

You are given glimpses of the sunny side, maybe in your dreams or at a small space between too-close skyscrapers that lets in light, and you wish to reside there once more. Yet the shade has become a permanent tenant in your heart, your being, and will always be with you going forward, wherever you venture.

Once you cross away from the sunny side of the street, everything shifts like a kaleidoscope. You must learn to live with the underlying sadness and focus on your new land and its people, for you may leave the shade but it will never leave you.

Article originally appeared on PANS life (
See website for complete article licensing information.