From city to city I see the same structure packed people and places, from close up different shapes but still the same at a distance. Moving between people entirely alien to each other, pulled into the lives they have partitioned out of sometimes the same ground.

The night before, working. Tense through the whole past two weeks I felt that the next day of travelling would be stressful and unpleasant. Trying to make all the little parts mesh together that would take me from home north, then south-east to New Orleans. The morning was gentle though, I woke up easily grabbed all the things I had packed the night before and stepped out the door to swirlling snowflakes falling down. Though not sticking or even very cold, it was the first snow of the year and this gave the day an auspicious feel.

Walking, the cement of campus scattered with damp piles of leaves. The sound of an organ playing single notes drifted down from the open window of a building, a girls voice tones following in rich wide vibrato. Walking past the library there was a mother standing on the corner waiting while her child was laying on the ground staring up at the sky on its back. She seemed patient and unconcerned, content to allow the child its game. I wanted to join it laying there flat down and motionless, taking in the world spinning past.

Fourteen dollars and the bus was mostly empty. Boarding we diffused evenly and watched the world slip past below, I noticed so much more detail on the way up Interstate Five than I ever have before. All these little cracks in the ground, skeletons of ivy on the highway retaining walls, fields marshy damp under bare winter trees, and perfect round hills falling to lush green ravines. So much more saturated, how was it that I had never seen these things the hundreds of times driving before. All of the connections between busses, planes, cars, and walking went perfectly. Enough time between to wander and move with a dreamlike pace, but never to the point of restlessness. I was only lonely for my music.

It is two in the morning in Jessica's appartment, quiet and dim with the lights off. The sleeping bag profiles of Carson and Laura are funny. Laura's so much shorter by perhaps a foot or more, though I know the actual difference in height is not that great. They are cute like that, parallel in delicate sleep.

Earlier today on the way to Georgia we came close to mutiny against Ken. He was adament in following the directions uncanilly memorized to exact detail for the entire eight hour drive, door to door. We had taken a premature exit and wandered, calling for guidance. Realigned, Ken insisted on taking a different route. At the point when we were about to tear limbs from his body, he was vindicated and we descended on her appartment to the smell of tasty things baking.

The night before Ken and I had walked around the quarter, mostly empty in the early morning late night hours. All the houses brightly painted razor wire and broken glass filling the gaps formed between them. Viciously cheerful with narrow antique streets, we wandered south between towering walls of glass and cement. Stopped to look at a church curiously nestled between office buildings, it was like that often, haphazard and random arrangement. The whole time I could hear the not so far away sounds of a switching engine working among cars and tracks, drawing at the back of my mind.

I was strangely bitter waking up this morning. After a couple hours it faded and was pleasant to feel at ease with kids shifting about half awake. Colleen called, gave her directions and went out to wait. I should have known by her voice that she would be so familiar. Thick syrupy though gravelly accent, rough but kind. We went to Eats for lunch and filled up on pasta. There was a curious mix of people eating there, she worried over the encroaching gentrification of her neighborhood. Driving through rugged streets into an industrial part of the city, where it just feels there should be trains. And there are, that is what we are there for, watching a few lines roll by at one spot and then moving on. Driving through a CSX yard, it is sprawling and resembles a small town. Two workers wave to us friendly as we cross a bridge spanning tracks and cars, watching them fade away in the rearview mirror. Overlayed with the easy exchange of words which has become typical while travelling. Colleen is tough and amazing, does not deserve the shit she goes through, I cannot find the right words to tell her this.

I set out on a bikeride, like the others not really knowing where I was going. Just aiming in a direction and weaving through the streets blindy absorbing the city. I want to wander at random until it has passed so often that it becomes familiar, not by street names and wards, instead by glimpses and anticipation of what lies nearby. After a couple days, it is starting to happen, in the quarter at least. Little nooks of comfort and familiarity. A park half hidden on one side of the block by houses, stairs adjacent to a decaying warehouse, the ladder in the alley that scales the floodwall to the trains layed up waiting on the other side. Carving out my own version of the city, like everyplace I go. Arrange the sensations so they make sense, resemble something I can come back to later and feel just a little tiny homesick for it still being there all the while I was gone.

I ride south this time, through the quarter with all the tourists and huge cameras, girls with tight shirts dead eyes clear complexions, men sharp dressed brisk walking. Further south, under Interstate 10 which floats above the city, cuts uninterested through it, abstract unrelated to its surroundings. It makes me a little sad. Through neighborhoods where bright reckless kids might live from the few I see wandering down the sidewalk, church spires pulling away from tired ground, and finally the projects. People apprehenseive and resentful glances as I pass through their broken down damaged world. And that is fair, because I am just passing through stealing what it might be like to be them, and carrying the thoughts away with me to a soft bed warm covers and all the amenities. I can turn it over in my hands and trace the cracks, chips, and stains, and when I am done I will just put it back down.

The condemned skeletal projects for blocks upon blocks wide destroyed but still they look structurally sound, like with energy and a dream they could be home again. Watching the broken glass ground cracked pass underneath me the metallic song of an ice cream truck calls wandering through the wreckage. There was one particular house, caged in by a chain link fence an animal in metropolitan display, the slow progress of ground pulling back into its own with long green tendrils wrapping around. Slanting sometimes cross sections where walls had already surrendered, the wood all grey and dry. I can tell some of these same city feelings haunt Laura, sometimes she will let one slip out. Does she notice the same of me, or is she comfortable enough within her own perception to know they are real.

what am i left with but memories?

We were old before we were young, given careers, money, and places to live. So we were adults. A midlife crisis at twenty two because thats how it is now, we have grown old faster than our time and so we never grew wise. Keep search grasping for that childhood again, when we were synchronized with our ages and it all made sense. We talk about this, touch on it from endless angles, yet never feel complete.

And now that I am home, the time spent away is completely intangible. Slipped back into the same routines with such quick ease, perhaps I never even left.