Seven months ago I left my apartment in Fort Greene for Thailand and an extended stay in Europe as the unofficial writer in residence in Luxembourg. Yesterday morning I departed from the Grand Duchy aeroport and arrived at JFK in the late afternoon. For once my bag was the first off the gigantic A380 and I cleared passport control and customs within minutes to catch the air shuttle to Howard Beach and the A train onward to Fort Greene.I trudged to South Oxford Street with my heavy bag strapped over my shoulder. The neighborhood looked the same and I approached the brownstone with key in hand. It didn't work and I rang the buzzer. My landlord opened the door with a smile and a hug. AP's happiness had very little to do with my owing several months' rent. He was a good friend long before he became my landlord. "Have you lost weight?" I asked dropping my bag on the polished wooden floor."I don't think so.""Really?" I didn't think so either, but I know everyone loves to hear that question."Let's get you upstairs." AP hefted my bag and we climbed the four flights of stairs to the top floor and opened the door. It looked practically the same as when I had departed for Asia in July. No one had slept in the bed and the place actually seemed clean."How's it feel?""Like I never left." And that was a weird feeling. Nothing is ever the same, but I could tell no one stayed here in my absence. AP and I went into the kitchen. My bottle of Jameson's was untouched and I searched for two shot glasses. There were none, because there never had been any. "A toast." I was a half world away from my children and 3500 miles from the residence."Why not?" AP was a like mind."To a safe return." I lifted the bottle to my lips. The whiskey tasted of Ireland. I passed the bottle to AP. He took a long tug. These were hard times, but they were always better with friends. I was back in Brooklyn.Safe and sound.