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As the rest of the band stepped away, just one remained. He delivered just a single verse, acoustic, before the others returned for the final song of the evening. I knew what words I was about to hear, but it stung just the same when he delivered it.

And I can tell just what you want.
You don't want to be alone.
You don't want to be alone.

The morning had begun on a plane, with the last open seat taking but a single line off the standby list: mine. I was supposed to be stuck, most of the way across the country another day. Each day I'd found my face plastered to a laptop working, and each night an empty bed awaited me. I couldn't imagine much I wanted less.

The four hours of flying time left but a modicum of sleep, and the short nap I got when I finally arrived in the apartment was little better. There was more work, some at home, some while waiting for the RMV to give me a new license and registration.

But my unexpected early arrival lent me the ability to see a show I'd long assumed I'd miss, and after dinner with a friend I biked to the venue, a university ice hockey arena.

One song, in particular, was one I'd taken loosely as an anthem. It came and went as did several others that held deep meanings to me. Now, we were at the last song of the encore.

The dichotomy was hard: the return home was welcome. I was in a place where I was safe, where I could meet up with friends, where I could on a random night walk up to see a long-missed band.

But at the same time, the return home was no different than the place I'd left.

He finished the verse:

And I can't say it's what you know
But you've known it the whole time
Yeah, you've known it the whole time

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