On my way out of town, I leave Dee a birthday present. It’s a painting of a scene from Destroy All Monsters. I make it to Brookline in just under fifteen hours. I know the route so well now entire hours vanish without trace. As long as I have something to listen to, the trip flies by.

I put down my bags in Max’s old room, where I’ll be sleeping, and join my parents in the kitchen for tea. I give my father the stack of old Natalia Ginzburg paperbacks in Italian that I scored for him at Tangible. We talk about this and that. No one wakes up until nearly noon the next day.

We go to the basement and my father points out a shelf full of old books that belonged to my grandmother that he wants me to take back to Chicago and give to the store. They’re worn tomes from the 19th century. The set that catches my eye is three oxblood leather-bound volumes copiously illustrated with colored engravings of flowers.

I top out the box with some of my student art and a couple broken violins and stow it in the trunk of the rental.

The next day a tall Amazon box is sitting on the front porch. I take it inside. That afternoon, I take the bush out of its pot and hold it upright as my father shovels fresh dirt around it in the backyard.

There used to be a swing when they first moved into the house at the end of 1988 but it’s long gone. My painting of it from 1993, when I briefly lived in the house, hangs in the laundry nook.

I make the drive back to Chicago in under fourteen hours. There had been plans to visit friends along the way but they fell through so I decide to just go home.

I see two duos perform on successive nights. Marisa Anderson and Jim White at Constellation, then Gillian Lisée and Jim Becker at the Hideout. Both amazing.

I’m reading something at The Whistler tomorrow. It won’t be the same if you’re not there.