Fear/Love

Today the aesthetic is salted caramel on my tongue and leaves that tease autumn on yellow-tinted edges; damp hair chilling the back of my neck to contradict the warm inner fuzz of a new sweatshirt; a bench painted in psychedelic colors while someone at the heart of the pedestrian mall behind me is playing a saxophone. A homeless man I have seen out here before is sitting on the edge of a cement retaining wall fifteen yards away. I know I will pass him when I get up to leave but I have nothing to give him.

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When you’re from a city

Once we reached Maple Road on the way home from school in the seventh grade, I could close my eyes and feel each bump in the road and know exactly where we were at that moment, tracing the entire journey from the turn off of 44th to Maple, to Spruce, around the corner, two houses down, then the bump and rise of our driveway before Mom shifted into park and shut off the engine. "We're home." I knew. In that, our fifth year of living there, the Lynnwood house started to feel like home rather than the Edmonds duplex I'd spent over half of my life in. Now, as I do my own driving around Iowa City, I try to avoid the eyes-closed-road-bump test. But perhaps there are better metrics for determining when a place is starting to feel like home.