I love my city, how it breathes out and breathes in. How its edges soften when it finds us needing its warmth. How its humanity materializes when it senses our heart may turn into stone. It speaks to me, every hour of every day. It whispers secrets right into my fingertips, and as they travel through me, I understand the heaviness of its existence, the burden of our footsteps, the quiet desperation of our sighs.
I had always underestimated its magnitude, seeing it as a bowl where five million souls swam in the murky poison of their own concoction. This is partly true, but it is when you die by your own hand that she reveals to you everything that she is, and all that she could be.
I died a few months ago. Pieces of my old self hide in the cracks of pavements I have touched, and walls I have leaned on as I waited for something and someone and everything to fall into place; as I was falling apart.
She is beautiful in the complex effervescence of her concrete exterior. When you discover your city, you begin to understand yourself, for she has raised you, cradled you, wept with you, and even when you’ve felt she has left you stranded, she had simply mirrored the emptiness you were projecting.
Most of my sentences used to start with ‘I think’, but now I crave. I see the poison for what it was. I know how comfortably we lie upon a lie and cover ourselves with a blanket we’ve woven out of our misconceptions, self-delusions and the dreams we didn’t fight hard enough for. As they cocooned us we forgot who we were, and we walked around the streets, and drove to work, and supported our drunken bodies on the bricks of this city and blamed it and everyone else for the chaos inside us we never had the discipline to tame.
The imprints are there. The shame is ours. The truth is grey.
I have loved my city like I have loved myself; with difficulty, with patience, and with a clarity that I earned as I uncovered the paper-thin, black layers of its existence.