When you're back in your old neighborhood
The cigarettes taste so good
But you're so misunderstood
You're so misunderstood

I was sitting in the back seat; Leslie in front, her fiance driving. She asked me if I smoked, and of course I said no. I haven't smoked in years. Not for moral or health reasons, or at least not the standard ones. At any rate, she nodded approvingly. I'd forgotten about her asthma, but now visions of gym class, her weezing, came to mind.

I hadn't seen here in five years; there was a couple of times during college when she came down to West Chester, but other than that, I hadn't been on her turf in almost ten years.

She lives down in Pottstown, or south of it anyway, where the farms are being bought out and turned into housing developments--McMansions on one acre plots, huge, ugly houses strung together like pieces on a Monopoly board.

There's something there that you can't find
You look honest when you're telling a lie

"You alright?"

Yeah. Just a little carsick." Bullshit. We were driving home--not in the sense you might expect, though. We were driving to the town we used to live in, up north of Pottstown. Ten miles away, but it felt like ten years.

We were going to a bar. We were going to drink.

This is where I started drinking when I was 13.

It seemed appropriate.

Short on long term goals
There's a party there that we ought to go to
If you still love rock and roll
You still love rock and roll?

We used to sit in my mom's basement, playing records. Typical teenager stuff. Our favorite was the Replacements' Hootenanny. Damn thing came out when we were four. We wanted to form a band; we wanted to be famous. I played guitar, she pounded away on a keyboard. Like most dreams, that died too. We both work behind a desk, her for some local phone company, and me at a library.

I don't pick up the guitar as much as I used to. I couldn't even find any instruments in her place.

But I still listen. I don't know why--it's like poking at a loose tooth.

I used to lay in bed and listen to the radio, imagining my own songs on there. Or sometimes, just imagining being somewhere else.

I know you've got a god-shaped hole
You're bleeding out your heart full of soul

There's no revelation here. There's no big moment, no climax. Just coldness.

There's something dangerous about coming back to a place that doesn't seem to change. Or, if it changes, it decays. The Ames department store sits empty. The old video store, too. The birch tree outside my old house is dead, drooping on the lawn naked and sad. No new housing developments, either, which is odd for this part of Pennsylvania.

There's something dangerous about coming back to a crime scene. I hated this place. I hated everything about it, from the Klan rallies to the redneck bars to getting beat up every day for being weird. I hated the lack of transportation. I hated the lack of anything to do, short of the farmers' market.

Was I misunderstood? Yeah--'cause I'm not as weird as they thought I was.

I've still got scars from living there, and I'm not just talking emotional. I don't like talking too much about what happened out there, but I can't stop.

There's a place where you can drive just outside of town, up into the beginning of the Appalachian Mountains. You can look down on the town, all church steeples, school stadiums, and broken train tracks. I don't know that the place has any significance to anyone but me--but I like it better that way.

I came home to see a friend. I felt like I was drowning.

I'd like to thank you all for nothing
I'd like to thank you all for nothing at all
I'd like to thank you all for nothing
Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all
Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all

Lyrics are as compliant as I can figure--I asked permission, and they never said no.

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