These streets already familiar. In the shadows cast by its 1,453 ft frame you realise your memories were formed. Real ones attached to real times and real moments and real people. No longer premonitions of a life that could have been, that you now realise was never meant to have been. And there it is.
You remember that this corner is where you noticed your phone was ringing. Outside that bookstore is where you first started that smile that still lingers to this day. That bench is where they looked upon your gift and you knew you had chosen correctly. Not just the gift, but them. Your choice of them over the other, the single smartest thing you had ever done.
Moments shared as you walk along these streets. Their journey, how each day they look up to see. Still there. Unspoken reassurance that they too will always be there.You no longer feel unwelcomed. There is a reason you know this place so well and why you return to it. It is them, and it is you.
Not Your City no longer. Given the opportunity for that possibility once again. A place returned.
One final afternoon in my final city and I can say I’m ready to be home. Not ready to leave, but ready to see those faces again. They are what I have missed most. Not the familiarity of the streets and places, I have found that in the unexpected/most expected of places. Not even the hugs that I am sure will await me. I too have found those, in the most expected of places. For now I know where I am welcome, and to there is where I go.
This trip made simply for one reason, I did not know when I would be able to come back. When I get home and I look at the damage I have inflicted on my poor bank balance I know that it will have cost me dearly. However, when I think of the memories I have made, I know that I could not have afforded to not have those walks and not seen those smiles and not shared that laughter.
For those m0ments, there will never be a price to high. To share a meal with a friend, an ocean is no greater obstacle than a street. Though I cannot confirm when, know that it will be again, it will be often, and it will be as soon as I can no longer afford to be without your face sat across from me.
I have travelled through cities and across states and have been greeted by warm suns and even warmer smiles. I have gone where I was most welcomed and most missed. I have gone to where the fractions of my heart reside because I could not bear to stay away for any longer, knowing that my return to them is some far off date. This has been my journey and now one final stop remains.
Only one more night and I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that there’s still a part of me that feels some trepidation at the knowledge of my return to that city that has come to mean so many different things. But this was my choice. An idea born on a plane ride away from that spot and the actions of some that were able to erase the behaviour of one.
I surround myself with those who bring out the best in me, but know nothing of that darkness that still haunts me. That darkness I am afraid to let into my life for fear it will consume me again. I will not allow them to face that fate. I will not allow my own weakness to cause them pain. I will not betray everything I have come to be because of the promise that they once held in my eyes.
I feel myself a coward because of this, because I am not strong enough to stand in that one person’s path and make myself known. Yet the thought lingers in my mind, what if they knew? Then part of me speaks again, they probably already do. I have stayed out of the way but I have not hidden. I refuse to believe that I should, but I will not call them out for a confrontation either. Their own cowardice will keep them away, of that I am almost certain and oddly thankful.
I hate that these thoughts dominate my mind this night whilst the child who has sat in my arms for the past few days tidies her toys behind me; but I cannot let my guard down. I cannot let this city be turned again. I have made my choice. I have finally come to see what others have seen, not in them but in me. I know who I am, but the knowledge of who they were remains.
The ghost of my past. Its hold still lingers even though I chose to let go. That city…what will you do to me this time? Someone read ahead and find out how this ends.