Praise Song: Old City, Old Selves

Go back to your old haunts in your old neighborhoods and what do you find: they remain and have disappeared.

— Colson Whitehead, “Lost and Found”

Praise the city you hardly see anymore, with a glass and steel Marriott rising right over the spot of the long-gone Mexican cafe where you’d sometimes sit alone at the counter eating migas. It’s all any of you talk about–where the city you once knew has gone, and how long it took to get wherever you were going in the traffic, the traffic. As if everything isn’t always changing anyway, as if you could still be 19 or 31 or 42 and strolling through streets ever familiar. And then, praise that day your old life comes marching toward you carrying who you were when you first set foot in the city. The writer in overalls reading a book in a coffee house was once you, now isn’t, but you know you once embodied that ease.

041015Then while you sit at a different counter eating fish tacos and drinking red wine, up walks a man you had one date with 15 years ago. It was your first fall or spring, and the first time you realized that the temp in this city can shift 30 degrees in a matter of hours. What you remember is how he walked down the sidewalk a pace ahead of you, to your right, trying to block the wind. Praise that you knew his face when he said hello. Praise that there are still writers and coffeehouses and books to pull from satchels. Praise that no matter how tall the new buildings, you still know the way home.

April 9, 2015

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