THE CITY promised me.
I am serenading God by laser lights in a familiar square. But he doesn’t sing back. I knew that he wouldn’t; it’s just that childlike instinct carved into my cells so deep that I can’t help but acknowledge it in someone else, that instinct to cocoon into myself and feverishly whisper prayers. I whispered them on us. It didn’t work.
Somewhere, I must have a home. I must have a clear sky, a worn out place, a run down city where I run free – a city sprawling into tales and eyes and hearts, immortal with bamboo canes and little fiery wisps of what should have been. I must have a city where all my attempts to flee are gone. I must have a city asizzled by chains and bruised with young blood, shelled with golden post apocalyptic Californian revivals.
And I’m at it, again: at the catapult of this hissing electricity. I hope this city does not break you. Because sometimes, when you’re walking down a five-hundred-year-old street, the architecture just won’t do – the buildings won’t look as bewitching as they did the first time your eyes washed over them. They won’t enchant the pain away. But the darkness of the night will relieve you. All of it: dark, fulfillment, mist, heaviness. Your soul feels heavy, and your sleep isn’t hollowing your troubles anymore. It’s all so heavy, isn’t it? This feeling. This night. It’s all pressing down, down, down, and you wonder if it could press you down into a lovely, velvet sleep, or into a thick murk of an ocean. A night after happiness will become just as hollow and empty as a night after sorrow. Is it the city? Is it you? You will lose a bit of something. Did you even have it at all? Despair will hit you in the coffeehouse, when you’re looking down at your tea and the children’s laughter is ricocheting in your head, and the hollowness – nibbling away at your middle ever so tirelessly, carving you inside out – is terrifying you. What is it? The city, or you?
But I know a place. A place that owes me more than the sum of the seven seas. A place where young scars call upon old scars, and where old wounds spin into new wounds – marks etched so deep into fabric that you can’t help but recognize them where blood trickles down.
This city owes me.