The following text was all written in longhand on a bus trip I took yesterday with the Fiery One. It was the beginning of my nine straight days off work, and I was feeling light with the idea of mental freedom from Cityville and an entire week away from my job.

"A girl two seats back from us is on her cell phone as we are leaving Cityville. She is talking with a friend that she is meeting up with in Cosmopolis. They discuss hair (new streak colours!) and skirt style and length (pleated vs. not pleated) and good stylists (you know the best ones by the style books in their waiting areas) and nails (shorter and sporty is in). They plan on giving each other manicures after picking up iced chai teas. Can nails, after much careful manicuring, really be sporty? Wouldn't sporty nails be chipped and short and possibly surrounded by some callouses? Oh, wait. I have those naturally. My nails are cutting edge style-wise, and I didn't even know it. Now all I need are electric blue streaks in my hair and a skirt with a hint of a crinolin.

There is a lady across the aisle and back one seat. She is a larger woman, her belly extending halfway down her thighs. Her shirt is a dingy grey and white madras with little flowers that are faded to near invisibility. The watch she is wearing seems out of place. It cuts into her wrist, but it looks new and the band is made of expensive brown leather. Her eyes are almost grey, and as she stares out the window across brown spring hills, she looks sad. It comes from inside her like a memory that she is always in the midst of remembering. It makes me wonder what broke her heart.

It occurs to me that I have forgotten what a ziggurat is precisely. I imagine an angular pattern like a maze and a larg pyramidal structure. The Fiery One thinks that they were ancient, mobile war machines, which strikes me funny for some reason. He also just told me that my face smells like Willy Wonka candies. I don't think I'll trust information coming from him for the next while.

I love my pen. It's a Sarasa gel ink retractable rollerball 0.7 mm with mahogany-coloured ink. I need ten more of them, pronto.

We just passed a big, dead raccoon lying by the side of the road. He neatly bisected the freshly painted yellow highway line while he bloated in the afternoon sun."

So, here I am in Cosmopolis. I started out feeling bright and free when the bus left Cityville, but since arriving in Cosmopolis, my mood has steadily shifted south. Nothing seems quite right. It is as though there is some underlying subtext that I am not quite grasping. It doesn't feel like a conspiracy, no, but it does feel like there is a low background thrumming that none of us is able to put a finger on. We are all anxious, and I don't know why.

The likelihood is that it is I, and I alone, who feels anxious and out of place. This city used to be mine, and I liked it, and now when I return to it after living elsewhere for almost four years, one or the other of us seems a little too large or too small or is displacing too much or too little volume. I feel that I should take it aside and have a talk with it and say Look now, I have no issues with your changing, but when I come back to visit, I still want to feel like I fit, okay? It feels lonely or angsty or emptying or wearying or some-other-word-that-covers-this-sort-of-thing when the place that I most consider home doesn't return the sentiment anymore.

The spark seems to be fizzling in this relationship between Cosmopolis and me. Where's the love?

Aside from this sardonic, mildly malevolent-feeling undertow, I have had a fairly decent time since we arrived late yesterday afternoon. We had supper with my parents, which went well. There were no racist comments and my mother only alluded to their imminent deaths once in the three hours we spent with them. Then we hung out with the Fiery One's parents and watched "The Motorcycle Diaries", which was boring as hell but contained the ever-lovely Gael Garcia Bernal. Following that, I went out to a local pub and drank many fine pints with Batty, Starcat, Chazella, and Marta_Hari. The Fiery One stayed home, as he was still recovering from his fever that had finally dropped the day before, so I am hoping that he will come out tonight. He leaves to head back to Cityville in the morning, and I'm going to miss him.

Here's to the rest of my vacation in Cosmopolis being much less sinister and a lot more vacationy!

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"The End of the Weekend" by Anthony Hecht