I never realised how in love with the city I was.
My heart has been lost somewhere within its centenarian cobbled roads, scattered in crumbs that I must find to return home, wherever, whenever, that may be. Time has split me into halves and quarters and eighths; now there is always a part of me wandering, living within the city’s walls. Sometimes I run into those parallel versions of me (occasionally the 16 year old me after that bold haircut, at times the 7 year old me hiding behind my sister) and the world flips over, sucking me into thoughts of a past self. Just like that, the world is not what it used to be.
But the city, even though it changes, remains much the same. Its spirit only strengthens with time, and it does not matter how old I am, which parallel world I’m in, the city is always there. It endures. The city will still be here after I die. It will still have versions of me running around in it, or sitting quietly under the shade of a tree, bathed in the warmth of filtered light. The city will still be here even as it crumbles and burns. It is eternal. To have held so many interwoven lives over so much time, it has become immortal, almost.
I didn’t know I was in love with the city until I stopped trying to become something to it. Until I stopped trying to be some other self. I remember when it was that I fell in love with it: that day, I quietly slipped into a backstreet and heard the city breathe, a sound all car horns and fresh breezes carrying the scent of the sea, and without knowing how or when, I breathed with it.