When I was young I dreaded leaving my city for the countryside. It meant leaving the space around me: a small desk, a twin-sized bed, and the wall beside it, covered with posters of my favorite bands.
There was also the street I lived on, my best friend’s house two blocks away, the store another block after that. A little farther out was the avenue lined with the grocery stores, cafés, and videogame arcades I regularly visited. Across it was the school I attended. And just a bus and jeepney ride away was the mall I went to with friends for ice cream and sausage sandwiches and comic books.
The only time I was ever happy to leave was on the rare occasion I was visiting another city—often more advanced and more exciting, with skylines that soared higher, with brighter lights and busier streets. But even there I felt right at home, surrounded by millions of people and their millions of stories, in which the city became the foreground or the background, the hero or the villain, the familiar or the alien, the inexhaustible or the disposable.
In this collection, I’ve chosen to briefly revisit the cities that I’ve written about across two decades of writing. Most of the stories have been extensively rethought and rewritten, and I hope that they offer a fresh experience to old readers, young citizens, and new visitors alike.
Welcome to my cities, and thank you for your stay.