A deep sigh came over Jason as he pulled off the highway onto route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no matter the location. His hometown had tainted similar places through memories of loneliness, frustration, and undeserved yet expected sympathy. Due to this small-town avoidance syndrome, he had missed housewarmings, weddings, and most family gatherings over the years. But for Jason this felt like a worthy sacrifice to maintain a comfortable distance from his childhood. Anxiety was an easy excuse to turn around, but he knew this time must be different. It was unavoidable.