My parents still live in the small town where I grew up, in the house next door to the one that was my home. The problem with that small town is that I find it peaceful and relaxing to be there, but I can't stay for more than a few days without getting jumpy.

People drive too slowly for my city reflexes. They are too polite for my shell of indifference. They give directions using human referrents - "Go back to the second concession past the McNaughton farm, you know, he married one of the Brand girls, Karen maybe, one of Pat's daughters - then turn left and go just past Pete's turnip field and you're there." I can't remember any of these people¹, and I can't admit it either.

The sidewalk on my parents' street is cracked and broken. It's been like that as long as I can remember. i could draw you an diagram of the cracks in front of our old house, so often did I run over them with my Tonka toys.

My dad says they're going to tear that sidewalk up and put in fresh cement. And do you know what? It's just a sidewalk, but it almost makes me cry. That's my childhood they're planning to tear up. It's a small town thing.

1. I remember Karen, well enough. But that's another story.