It is what it is.
I walk along the boardwalk. The weather seems too good to be true. The waters deep blue. I look out at the boats and the birds. The sun has an affair with my face. Peace. I think of my city center for the first time, in a long time. Finally, I feel that I'm ready to face Houston, and everything that that means.
I see my family for the first time in a year, and it feels pretty normal. There's no space for emotion. If someone cries I think I'll leave the room, so I am thankful no one does.
"Hey man!" says my father. "Mister World Traveler! Haha!"
"Yeah, something like that. Good to see you."
After that, he sits down to watch TV. Short and clean. A perfect welcoming. I've been on the road a lot today, but am anxious to get out and see things. Taking a coffee is the only logical choice, so I get in the car and set out into the streets. They're long. They're menacing to me. I don't recognize many things. Some buildings are gone, and in their place are monstrosities to my memory. Furthermore, I am completely fatigued. I can't remember the last time I drove. I never needed to in France. I got everywhere in my small town by foot in 10 minutes, and now driving for twenty seems to get me nowhere.
I pull into a very popular Starbucks. It's not my first choice, but it's close. Motorcycles are lined up out front, while the smokers boisterously fill the terrace. The parking lot is full of cars, as even more fill the drive-thru. I enter and an awkward cop immediately eyes me down. The line is at least 15 deep, and the crowd of patrons' chatter cloud sounds like a den of squealing pigs.
I walk out. Can't do it.
This place is much closer than my usual spot from the old days. Cafe Agora is where I meant to go, and is where I should have gone in the first place. Forget distances. 10 minutes more, and I arrive. There's that familiar creaking door.
"Welcome back, my man!"
I sit in one of my usual perched seats so I can see everything, so I an take it all in while breathing it all out. I'm home.