letter to my city

Lisa Toboz

I confess: For years I dreamed of ways to leave you. I wrote to pen pals from Yugoslavia, Australia, Malaysia. I watched “Manon of the Spring,” got really good at conjugating French verbs. I replaced posters of teen idols with maps. I took train rides to New York, searched for opportunities. I waited for rescue. I hated your overcast skies, your old people, your sports teams, your unemployment. I hated your run-down river towns with nothing to do. I traveled around Eastern Europe, trying to find teaching work and family roots, only to return broke and confused. I called myself a writer, but wasn’t writing anything. Defeated, I figured we should make the most of it. I listened to your streets. I walked through personal history. I forgave my ancestors for never leaving this dirty, broken beautiful place. I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing here, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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