As we pulled up to the last traffic light before the highway and waited our turn at the five way intersection, I apologized for my silence. He dismissed my apology, noting that while he was happy to chat with those who felt like it, there was no requirement. Somehow, though, we quickly got to the topic of where each other hailed from. He ticked off the places he'd lived, but said he always came back here. I explained that I was a 42 year native. "Both sides of my family are from here," I shared before describing the places my progenitors had resided.
After pausing, I choked back the tears that were forming as I clutched at the small brass disk dangling about my neck. "I have a 1922 Pittsburgh trolley token that I always wear, to remind me of where I am from." Barely able to not cry, I let him fill in the conversation as I contemplated again if it might be time to leave before recomposing myself and picking up where I'd left off.
Any safety net that might have been under me had been dismantled and reclaimed. I feel naked and unprotected. Still, my life is fully mine and mine alone, for better and for worse. At least if I come crashing down, there will be no collateral damage.