The summer after I graduated from college, I was independently wealthy.
It was 1981, I was 23 years old, and I held in my hand an acceptance letter from a graduate school that included free tuition and a $4,500 per year stipend. What’s more, I had received a $1,500 prize from my college department at graduation, so I didn’t need to work, so long as I was reasonably careful with my money.
I subleased a tiny, dingy, walk-up off-campus apartment from a friend who had moved in with his girlfriend. It was one room plus a kitchen and bath; it smelled like gas, and it leaked when it rained, and there was barely enough space for me and my guitar and my bicycle together with a couch and bed.
The building was old and tumble-down, and I felt every bit the adventurous but deeply depressed bohemian while I lived there.
One day I was browsing through a bookstore and found a colorful window sticker with a dove and a rainbow. I bought it and stuck it to the front window of the apartment to cheer myself up. At night, the moon or some other source of light would shine through it, and I’d sit on the ratty couch and gaze at and through that sticker as if it were magical, trying to divine my future while listening to Bonnie Raitt’s Streetlights album.
Of all of the contents of that apartment, the building itself, the street, only I and my guitar and a photograph remain.