On vacation, we cuckolded Oakland, faraway, guzzling the last sweet sap-heavy honeylunar dregs as guests of Jimmy's brother in Toronto.
The last few days I could not remember home; I've always had a poor memory, irreconciliable minutiae readily buried for a sentiment or pleasure. I forgot the door Jimmy had painted chartreuse, the solid wood beams hung with painted masks that glowed by lamplight, the succulents in their clay pots on the windowsills.
& why should I remember home if my belongings could fit in a single suitcase? Every day I could scribble a refuge of words into a tattered notebook the length of my palm. Exigency was just a four-letter word, recalled when we didn't have enough for transit tokens or lunch in a pub.
After hours wandering Toronto, we could return to a house that had many doors & a lawn like a small wooded park, where the cardinals sang in the afternoons & maple seed-pods danced down in the shape of insect wings. We played shuttlecock, listened to knock-knock jokes whose punchlines their 6-year-old teller lost, & supped outside while the sun set. Our skin was tender by evening, imprinted by damp grass, the cut of our clothes.
Dreamtime in Toronto butterflied during the nights, quiet, late, humid, over glasses of anise-scented Pernod. That other city rose in moths, pullulating into a heady swarm: wings singing the steady song of trucks migrating from the Port, feelers like radio towers needling the sky. Sometimes the horde dispersed, like when I conversed with the in-laws until bedtime or watched an Almodovar melodrama alone, rootless in Madrid, so open to the image of the glamorous mother singing "Piensa En Mi" for her imprisoned murderess-daughter.
Often it fell upon me, covering the soft gold sprawling memory of the new city in a thin furry phantasmic membrane of streets I have known, people I have loved or never knew except in transit, in strange, melancholic, sometimes violent passage.
. . .
At the airport in San Francisco, we wondered aloud if we had really been gone that long. Little had changed here; surrounded by travelers furrow-browed in transit, we were exhausted, anxious for home, another point on a map called our future.