Whenever I come back,
the air on Railroad is making the same sounds.
       In the shop fronts on Holly
are dirty words, asterisks in for the vowels.
        We peer through the windows
new bottoms on barstools but the people remain the same,
with prices inflating, inflating.

As if saved from the gallows, there's a bellow of buzzers, the people stop working.
They're all so excited, excited.

Passing through unconscious states;
when I awoke, I was on the
       highway highway highway highway.

With your hands on my shoulders
a meaningless movement, a movie script ending
and the patrons are leaving, leaving.

Now we all know the words were true in the sappiest songs,
       yes, yes.
I'll put them to bed but they won't sleep,
just shuffling the sheets
        ... they toss and turn
you can't begin to get it back.

Passing through unconscious states
when I awoke I was on the onset of a later stage;
the headlights are beacons on the
       highway highway highway highway.

When I come back with her in the future, ten or maybe fifteen years will be gone, but nothing will have changed too much, I'm sure. Same street names and looming hilltop campus buildings; same categories of coffee shop, porn store, and tavern, some now with different names; same cigarettes-and-disinfectant low-rent apartment smell; each in as even measure now as ever they have been. Class reunion may be the context of the visit, or perhaps to see some old friend get married; in any case it will be a time of literal transition, she and I trying to find where we and ours will move to next. This town will be so tempting to me, as it always has been, because it feels like home.

She's experiencing that strange sensation of nostalgia as perceived through empathy with another, nostalgia for times she never experienced and a person she never was. She can feel the gravity of this town as it effects my path through its space, in the stories I tell and the places I show her; when I look at her I can tell she senses my truth. Also: I can tell she does not like what she's sensing, reviles the thought of returning to a college town like every other in the country, like the one that she grew up in. It is only through a stunning display of will that she keeps from stopping me, from speaking or screaming or something to interrupt my contemplation of the obvious.

In the end it turns out so much easier than all that, unnaturally smooth and almost orchestral, like the last few lines of dialogue from some movie or other. A soft grey Summer storm swirls over the town as evening falls triggering one last wave of scented memories before its white noise hiss and boom lulls me to an early sleep. Our decision is to take the high way, out of town -- our decision is to take the highway out of town.

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