You start to notice the most incremental changes. Walking with less of a slouch. The loosening of your jaw as you white-knuckle through rush-hour perimeter traffic. Hell, you even mind the traffic a little less. Your mood is better. More optimistic.
It might have to do with the fact that it was a tropical 77 degrees in Atlanta today. Springtime in February. Punxsutawney Phil has no jurisdiction here in the South. You walk the Beltline from Midtown to Inman Park to meet a friend for dinner. The Beltline is more packed than you'd ever seen it. Joggers weaving through lazily-strolling couples and ladies coupled with baby strollers and leisurely cyclists and speed-demon cyclists. You pick up conversation snippets of the privileged, gentrified variety. Dull and mundane, the sort of idle chatter you'd normally consider tedious and eye roll-worthy. Today you find it downright quaint, nearly--dare you say it--pleasant.
At dinner, you talk about life, art, social change. Making a difference. Being a difference. Being different. Wine helps. Dulls the intellect a bit, but replaces it with earnestness in spades. (Earnestness, The Importance of Being.)
You leave the restaurant and hop back on the Beltline, now shrouded in night. There's a lightness and looseness in your step, bequeathed by wine. The breeze is cool and fragrant. A half-moon hangs over the glittering city like a proud mama surveilling her brood from afar. You take the scenic route through Piedmont Park, now deserted and dark save for the tangerine glow of the street lamps, their light bathed in watercolored halos, Monet-ized by your wined-up vision.
You breathe deep and remember to cherish these moments, and you are grateful, but you also know the happy moments are always fleeting, and there is always more work to be done, and now you are home and you are nursing a comically large bottle of water and now it is time to commence construction on the unpaved roads ahead of you.