Where You’re From and Where You’re From

It doesn’t matter what didn’t happen.

That’s what you repeat to yourself as you press down on the clutch, speeding through yellow lights despite the snowy road. All the years of your life in this town are streaming out with the exhaust.

All the years you never spent with the people you grew up with are as visible on their faces as snow on your windshield. The bonds you never formed flash at you in photo negatives, reminding you that all the closeness of your adolescence has dissolved. Everything, everything, has gone fine without you, like clockwork, smooth as all routine goes. You never spent summers playing Rock Band in someone’s basement, never carpooled to the cabins up north. You never helped anyone move and you never cooked anyone dinner. Christ, you’ve never even been drunk with these people.

You didn’t write back, or they didn’t, or you stopped texting, or they did.

It doesn’t matter what didn’t happen. All the kisses that never were, all the late night conversations – we’re all getting older so fast, she said, right before you hugged goodbye, and you are.

Two years ago you gave away your driver’s license, traded it in for one from your new state. Sometimes, you forget your old zip code. In your city, you cut through the waves of tourists like the sleekest ship, hop turnstiles, leave bars via subway at 4 am. You give directions, you see celebrities (and you don’t care), you go to bookstores that close at midnight and restaurants that close at two. But you’ve never been a New Yorker until now.

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