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At OAK

August 23, 2012

I lean on the garbage can by baggage check, screening road for a particular set of headlights.

“Yeah, we’re just going out to the desert,” a dread-locked woman says to the guy next to me. She pulled on her tam as soon as we’d exited the glass doors. The East Bay is not fickle about climate. It knows what it is, especially at night. “I packed for the desert, you know?”

I want to tell her that I don’t know. All I know about the desert is what I learned from a Peanuts cartoon about Snoopy’s drifter cousin. What I know is a place on the other side of everything. I know how it can feel sticky even when it gets cool, and I know that the sun moves high and can burn you late into the afternoon.

Before I flew back to the West Coast, I was standing in my parents’ yard in Western Pennsylvania, and I heard the crickets. It was late morning, and I know that crickets only call in the daytime when they can smell death. I waited a while before I put my suitcase in the car.

Outside the Oakland airport, my friend spots me first. The car slows. Her window is down. “I’m glad to see you,” I said.

Homesickness is easy. It lives a quiet existence in the back of my throat. Every so often it calls out, but it then diminishes like  crickets. Home is harder to track down. It is a blue car. It is a concrete corridor.

I walk into an empty apartment. There was a time when the temporary nature of things scared me. I put down my bag, and sit on the bed.

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