Restaurants are closing or are closed by now. It’s late, but you’re hungry. You’re not sure you want to cook, but you really want a salad. Drive to Ukrop’s on your way home. Rifle through your dashboard CDs looking for Emmylou Harris. You need Emmylou’s mellow voice to match your mellow mood. She’s not there, but you’re happy you find Johnathan Rice. Put it in the CD slot. The volume is louder than you expect but you don’t change it realizing “Quiet Hushed Voices” is what you were really craving. Sing along to it with the sunroof open. Don’t mind the people in the parking lot looking at you with bass flowing out the open windows. Keep singing the words. Park, knowing you are only pausing the moment. Enter the automatic doors. Pick up romaine lettuce and chevre. A salmon fillet is a sudden passing desire; you grab it, and hummus, for snacking. Check yourself out in the self-serve lane. Get back in the car. Turn the key and hit the sunroof button. Keep the duet with Johnathan going. Feel your brother’s bass in the floorboards and through the speakers in the door. This is good music. Know that you can’t go home. You want to drive and listen and feel the wind. There are no mountains here, no country roads just 5 minutes away. There is the highway. Head toward home, but pass it. Make the right hand turn you make every morning on the way to work. Bare left this time. Take the toll road, the Downtown Expressway. You need a hit from the city buildings; the skyline up close and 50¢ is worth it. Pass Rosewood and the U of R Stadium. Put Johnathan on repeat. Slow at the toll booth until the SmartTag signals a green light to keep going. Speed up, a horse out of the gate. Get the center lane. Pass VCU and the Cherry St. overpass. Pass the 2nd St. exit and Thomas Jefferson’s Capitol building. Go under a quarter mile of overpasses with lights burning a fluorescent tunnel. Emerge to the buildings of downtown Richmond. Wonder why so many lights are on. Follow the signs to 95 North and 64 West, Washington and Charlottesville. Curve around on the highway bridge through low buildings. Look out the window, to the left, at the taller lit buildings. {I want to love this city.} Be amazed that you are driving so close to the bricks and concrete. See the clock tower of the renovated Main St. train station on the right side, you can almost touch it. Sing with Johnathan. Get off at the Broad St. exit. Go quickly through Shockoe Bottom. Remember the recent attacks here. Get back to 95 going South this time to Petersburg. Stay in the right hand lane, curve right at exit 73C toward the Powhite. Imagine you are not driving but are suspended, floating through these buildings, under the highway above you. Look through the windows of La Difference. Wish you understood the difference. Go back through the tunnel of lights. Pass the Jefferson Hotel and the Governor’s Mansion. {I want to love this city’s history.} Pass the exit for the Boulevard. Quell the wish to live there in an apartment alongside Virginia’s museums and with a balcony. Go on to Cary St. Go to your home. Park and walk to your building. With the full moon behind say quietly and to no one "I want to love this city." Unlock you door. Put down your bags. Wash you hands. Decide it’s too late for salmon. Get a large bowl out. Pour the salad into it. Begin to toast pecans from the freezer. Crumble the chevre over the lettuce. Pour on your homemade balsamic dressing. Add the toasted pecans. Take a bite as you walk to the living room, to your computer. Realize you are a good cook, that this salad should be on menus. Sit down at your laptop. Put Johnathan on again. Listen to him, and write this.

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