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2004-08-02 - 4:46 p.m.

When my mom comes home, it will take her no more than three minutes to notice that I left out a box of Mac and cheese on the kitchen counter, didn’t properly clip up the potato chips, left two cordless phones off the hook, and hid the three remotes she had in her bedroom in an Easter Egg manner. She’d have a fit if she saw me stub my cigarettes into the soil of her potted plants, (Hell she’d have a fit seeing me with a cigarette.) but I swear I read somewhere that the ash helps them little sprouts.

Usually, any trip back to the old stomping grounds, leads to a lot of stomping, as various family members take advantage of the rare opportunity to lay into me for whatever reasons spring to mind: My infrequent calls, my continued lack of driver’s license, my well shrouded but fairly uneventful romantic life, or the general biohazard that is my apartment sink.

This weekend, however, the ‘rents were off on a trip, and my sister was trying to rustle up an interview out of town. For my weekend back in the old house, I was alone to open their recently bought DVD’s and smoke liberally on the back porch.

The din that marks my re-entry into said domicile, defending certain fashion choices, or being forced to tote the birthday presents to a distant relative’s party, it usually drowns out any introspection over the classically dramatic or traumatic return to one’s childhood home. Delivering natural fertilizer off the tip of my smokes afforded me the opportunity.

I do miss the trees. Having a back yard, and acres of woods to go off and play in, even at the ripened old age of twenty-four seems an enviable position. Even if my one trip out into the words with the eldest of my nephews left him yawning and bitter over having his Sponge Bob marathon interrupted. I realize that the nearly visible fumes rising off the marsh aren’t exactly invigorating, but come on…frogs, crabs, fish, multiple ways to get impossibly dirty? Aren’t these the makings of boyhood? I still remember the looks we got from the rich-y rich occupants of a schooner, as a friend and I floated by in a kiddie pool equipped with years of swimmies for ballast.

It was a good weekend. I finally got to see the youngest of my nephews with his eyes open. Taking after his father, he seemed quite fond of the nap, and our last few visits have consisted solely of him conked out and drooling on my shoulder. Bouncing him on me knee, this time, he looked up and me and smiled. He’s only fourteen weeks old and he already has a good giggle going. Our first real Uncle-Nephew moment, and he looked me in the eyes, giggled, and then proceeded to fart resonantly all over my favorite pair of jeans. Then he giggled again.

We caught a minor league baseball game, watching the New Haven Cutters rack up a nearly scoreless game against a team from Canada, which had, for the record, the ugliest uniforms I’ve ever seen: Bright yellow shirts with brown sleeves, and white pinstripe pants. I’m not saying baseball players need to throw on a nice chiffon number, but these guys were dressed in the colors of a dive bar toilet.

Sitting in a bar that seemed to define itself as such by playing top forty music far too loud for such a small enclosed space, I got to catch up with a friend, hearing of her bemused shock that a man she enjoys and respects feels the same for her, and explaining that this doesn’t mean he’s, in fact, emotionally incontinent, and doomed to mortally wound her heart in the coming months.

I was also roundly insulted by an attractive woman, who did not think much of my selection of Parliament Lights, but did not have time to discuss the situation with me, as she was struggling with her friend for the attentions of a former varsity baseball player. (One went so far as to bend over and waggle her ass at him. Not to be dismissed the other gracious lady bent down beside her and began flossing her rear with her thong in his direction, while futility calling for his attention. ‘Jesse! Jesse! Jesse! Jesse ! Jesse !’)

Still, coming into Grand Central off the train, feel the usual transit grease caking my face, I looked out over the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and felt a an immediate sense of relief and a twinge in my belly.

There are days, listening to entry-level publishers talk about where to get the best Mochachino, and how their dress code that insists on men wearing a collar is too restrictive, that I want to take a knife and start shredding the fabric of reality that loosely binds New York. When the heat from five flights in my apartment complex seems to settle in above my futon, I want to run to Tennessee where the cost of living doesn’t necessitate the choice between air conditioning and food.

But when I come out to see the streets and sidewalks of the city, I am reminded that, unlike so many places I’ve lived before, I live here, rather than just being here. I live here, and for all its faults, this is where I want to come back to.

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