starting off with an ode to my town

At this point in our relationship:

To me you are almost only empty alleys, smelling of dryer sheets and dumpsters. You are only the friends of friends I have not made my own, the friends I have pretended to like. The grudges I have forgotten to get over, the people I have forgotten to love. The smell of the rotting drunk at the corner of Railroad and Holly. You are only the three hands it takes to count the places I’ve had sex in this town, and the two it takes if you subtract the times I thought it wasn’t sex, though of course it was. Or the times I thought it might be love, though, of course, it wasn’t.

The smell of fertilizer outside the Feed and Seed. The smell of sugar and burned waffle cones outside the ice cream shop. The smell of overpriced clothing, once worn by someone else, in the store where I used to burn myself with the steamer on Saturdays. The smell of fried things behind the re-opened tequila bar. The smell of cars ahead and passing me, in a hurry to go somewhere not-here, burning my nose, my eyes, graying my teeth and frying my hairs with their exhaustion.

You smell very terrible to me almost always, except for those occasions when the bay blows through downtown and up Cornwall, Commercial, Champion, filling me with wind and the feeling of things that are still living. Except for when I claim my portion of the road, dependent, for the moment, on only the strength of my legs, two wheels, old pedals. Except for when I give myself permission to leave.

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