One month away and you can begin to forget. Complementary forces push and pull you towards a new home, a two-pronged campaign that buoys the present and sinks the past; the new smallness forges community, you were caught up in the large and diverse yet still esoteric bubble that, in self-proclaiming its role as center of the universe refused to acknowledge that even it cannot and does not capture everything worth possessing. Having stepped outside for a spell, you accept the fresh, humbler world and believe it for the best.
And then you come back and remember the treasures sown and reaped in your time. You drive down the highway alongside the trail on which you’ve profusely sweat on pavement during your runs. You walk through innumerable glass, steel and concrete behemoths, past that one pharmacy store and remember how you unabashedly shed your tears in midtown and had to buy a box of tissues. Sweat and tears and even blood that one detestably dry summer afternoon when you got a bloody nose for the first time in years.
Then there was that time you actually protected the ground, albeit unwittingly, from bird poop on that date by the boardwalk. That time you trekked 50 blocks through a foot of snow because it was the emptiest you’d ever seen the city, in daylight, and you wanted to really earn that artisanal hot chocolate from that obscure bookstore downtown. From that very store, your copy of Ulysses still sits a quarter-read on your shelf, besides the never-read copy of Infinite Jest.
You could step outside your apartment, in your pajamas, and walk past landmarks that people spend years admiring from afar, dreaming to come in personal contact, for a brief moment, on planned-out vacations. You’d pass by long queues outside venues that you could visit on less-crowded days because the calendar was a blank check.
All this to exclude the faces that would be found and made more familiar. Long days and nights getting acquainted with the skyline as a backdrop, at bars, at parks, at gatherings and movie nights in pre-war apartment buildings on 5th floor walk-ups, smoking on rooftops cursing at the high-rises blocking your view of the river. Friends you would never have met if you were literally anywhere else at that precise moment.
Distance and experience and time can dull those memories, but they’ll never be forgotten. This will always be home.