I hadnt been to my hometown in years. I hated it. Even this stop was simply for gas. Id intended to keep going til New Jersey, where my fiancée was waiting. And yet, as I filled my tank at the old Exxonone thing I could count on being there, despite the passage of timeI suddenly got the urge to poke around. Suddenly it was a novelty to be in my hometown, by chance, knowing no one, my parents long dead. The Monday morning winter street wore a desolate aspect, while miniscule changes among the downtown shops and restaurants imparted a feeling like a dream in which a familiar locale is slightly distorted, unreal.
We had always considered Joel crazy, but not, to put a fine point on it, crazy crazy. There is a difference. For Joel, who got off on being the center of attention, craziness was a form of self-presentation.