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December 27, 2003

it is christmas night and the house which was full all day of family and dear friends has emptied out and now only my mom and my dad and i are left. i need to move, i need to breathe. i take the dog out for a walk.

the cold is absolute, impossible to ignore. it illustrates each exhalation. it makes my nose and cheeks ache, my lungs feel clean. i crunch along in snowboots borrowed from my mother, a mile down the road to river oaks, where home used to be.

we moved in when i was three. the house had an enormous yard with the backyard sloping down into a perfect sledding hill, a long flat, and then the river. in the winter there would be ice skating, my dad cleared a rink as soon as the river had frozen over thick enough. it was a good house. good memories. my parents lost it in a flood the week i moved to the bay area.

so i stand in river oaks in the dark and the cold and look around but there aren't many houses anymore. i exhale, pretending i have been smoking a cigarette. i wish i had a cigarette. i look at the hole, the complete absence of a house. think about how nothingness can be so wrong. "that is where my house should be," i say to the dog.

and it occurs to me that this is what missing david feels like. an obvious empty place where home should be.