We are still at the foot of the mountain when the sky clears and the first hints of a sun appear.
And here it is.
The city and the paths of our lives.
Somewhere out there, our lives are unraveling in our absence. The baker is rushing on her feet, carrying out trays of bread for us to buy later. The hyperactive ophthalmologist is probably up already, checking to see that I have an appointment later today. The bank is investing my savings away; light sunrays must now be dancing in the spaces between my thick, bunched up duvet, left in a hurry earlier. Police officers are milling about by the barracks; stray dogs are already wandering the uneven streets of this reckless city in search of a life.
This is where we have been born, where we live, where we will die.
It’s a bizarre experience: to have lived in one place all your life.
Where others might associate a garden to one moment in time, one summer, one person, this whole landscape is a gallimaufry of memories to me, each one piled on top of the other. 24 years spread too thickly over these same buildings and streets. Memories from all the ages and transformations of our lives layer every corner of this city; every park bench, bus stop and hole-in-the-wall restaurant bears a distinct patina of nostalgia.
Out there in this maze of lives are the people we used to be, stored in the minds of people who once knew us. People who don’t know what we’ve become, for whom we slowly stopped existing, erased by absence.
I no longer have the courage to take the road where we walked together, forever ago now, a lifetime back. But there are days when I still have to. Days when I must push past the rush of memories, the thickness in my throat and walk all over my feelings because Life simply calls for it.
It’s never easy to be the one who stays. There is no place to hide, nowhere to run to.