I am un-ironic nineties wallpaper that somehow feels like home. I am one bedroom and three kids too young to realize they’re even related. I am foggy 4am under hand-me-down blankets when it’s not quite time to wake up. I am car rides. Four traffic lights. And two minutes from the nearest hospital.

On Monday I am clusters of stars just barely bright enough to see. I am the silence between the homeless man on the corner, and the wealthy woman clutching her Michael Kors purse. I am running to the drug store for the second time today. I am a sea of ugly black skirts and navy slacks exactly at 3:04 in the afternoon.

For your birthday I am too choked up to tell you I love you. I am tailored suits and baggy grey sweatshirts at the same bus stop. I am a blurry recollection of your third grade class, and the attempts to prove to your mother that they aren’t your cigarettes.

I am shattered glass the garbage man didn’t bother to pick up. I am your first bike left in the garage, covered in tiny black spiders. I am the winter that came two months after you expected it. I am too dirty, too vibrant, and too old to change.

I am the rude police officer at the front desk when you lost your keys in the building. I am a single mother, almost too exhausted to wake up in the morning. I am the feeling in your stomach when looking down from the top of a mountain. I am your fears and loves and achievements all at once.

—  Philadelphia