When I leave your city and you tell me, “You’ll be back,” I don’t take it as a haunting, as a spirit drawing me backwards like the demons that forced me out. I take it as an uneasy blessing, an acknowledgement of all that has gone wrong. And since space wasn’t strong enough to fix us, you hope that time will be stronger.

When I leave your city and you tell me, “You’ll be back,” I don’t care if you are channeling the spirit of the city. I don’t care if you are using words like a leather-stitched cowboy boot against my skull. I’m going to leave. This knapsack carries everything I need so why would I come back? To what would I come back?

When I leave your city and you tell me, “You’ll be back,” I know that you resent me for believing I’m good enough to escape this town when you could not. Because you believe in the misanthropic ethos of a singular loyalty that doesn’t expand, you think I’m naive for placing my bets on the future potential of every other city. I hold to the historical power of naivete and stubbornness to build and break down walls as great as Jericho. I won’t give you a pillar of salt to cling to.

When I leave your city and you tell me, “You’ll be back,” I want to tell you that I won’t be back because it’s not my city, it never was. You wanted to twine us to the oak tree at the town entrance and wait until its deep roots grew into my feet but just as oaks grow and willows weep, I walk.

When I leave your city and you tell me, “You’ll be back” I tell myself those words aren’t meant for me, they’re meant for you. And you should know best of all that a city is a living organism, constantly changing. You should know best of all that even if I came back, I could never return to the city in which I left you. I told you this but you demanded the last word. Cities always do.

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