I wasn’t able to go far. It was easy to go and not easy. Each step was a reminder of the first night of arrival. Each wall. Each brick. I realized that I shouldn’t walk along the same paths that we’d gone down together before. I had to chose a different path.
I wasn’t sure where I was going. I thought about buying a train ticket to somewhere. To somewhere far out there. I thought about just turning around, paying rent, and continuing on in that place. At least I could remember her there. I would be near where she was at the end. That was something.
I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t but I thought about it anyway.
That day, the clouds were few and the sky was clear. The chill in the air got under my clothes and I didn’t care. I did not notice myself shivering. I did not notice my toes getting cold. No matter how tame the winters here were, my extremities always got cold. Poor circulation from too many years of sitting on my ankles. And I hated wearing shoes and my socks were always thin.
I wanted to get away from this place, but it was impossible to truly want to abandon it. I couldn’t. If I left, then she would truly be gone. She would truly be incredibly far away from me. I would not feel the shards of memory cutting through me, but– I didn’t know who I would be without them. I didn’t know how I would feel without them. I didn’t know what I would feel like, or what I would want.
I was lost with Eve. It felt like she was somewhere in this city. I wished that I had kept her ashes with me. I would have spread her around in all of the cracks in the sidewalk and tucked her into the roots of trees. She could have stayed here. She could have stayed here with me instead of being so far away, in that place that she left so quickly.
There was no reason to stay any more. There was nowhere to go. I had no idea about anything.
The day I left the apartment, the sun was shining. It was the kind of day that would have had Eve running around, joyful, giddy with the brightness and the anticipation of finding more to know. She didn’t want much. She just wanted to know. That is as much as we can ask for, perhaps. Eve would ask for more. She would ask for her soul to be as big as the city. She would wish to have her soul be big enough to fit this city and all the people in it and all the buildings and all the trees and all the birds and all the cars and all the bicycles and all of the everything that makes this city the city it is. She would have wanted so much.
She would not have wanted me wandering this way, allowing myself to remain withered inside while there was still so much that I could see. So much that she would not be able to touch ever again.
I found myself at our hill. At the base of our hill, staring at the concrete, the slabs of it spread out. Staring at the fencing that stopped people from climbing up the steep slope of it to the trees above. What would have happened if the fencing were taken away? Would the hill have slowly slid down, deflated, become less steep, become something other than what it was? Would the train tracks have fallen apart? Would there be anyone to build up the face of the hill again, or would it just slowly melt down with the winter rain and cease to be itself? It would become something else. That is what Eve showed me. There is always the possibility of becoming something else. Someone else.
There is always the possibility of finding another plane, another way. There is always the possibility of making something different than what it is. Why be so afraid? We were meant to transform. Our skin is elastic. Our hair can be cut and it doesn’t hurt us. Our brains tell us we see one thing when we are seeing something else. Our hearts can trick us into feeling something we didn’t know we could feel.
I made my way up the staircase along the train tracks and to the hill. Our hill where once there were houses. Where once it was normal for people just walk around, to wander here, to sit. They saw a different sight, though. A different vision of the city. A different version of the city. One with fewer buildings, with less pavement, perhaps with more trees. Certainly more trains. The buses that passed by reminded me of our first days.
I couldn’t help thinking about the first days here. The chemical scent of those buses swept into my nostrils again though I sat under those trees on an iron bench under pink flowers that fluttered down every once in a while. I watched them with what felt like dead eyes. Eyes that were tired of seeing but not seeing what they really wanted. Eyes that wanted everything to be an even tone of gray so that the memory could do all the work. So that the mind could just fade into memory and wander around inside it forever.
Escape from reality. Yes, that’s normal to feel in mourning. It is normal to want to see something else. It is normal to want to get away, to want to be elsewhere.
Yet there was something calling me. The grass of the hill was thick and soft beneath my feet. Almost muddy. It didn’t stick to my shoes. I sat on the bench with my bag and wondered what was next. Where to go that would feel right? How long could I wander? Where would I sleep that night.
They were unimportant questions. I would sleep when I was too tired to hold my head up or continue walking. I looked out into the horizon, into the gray day and the gray buildings and the gray concrete and decided that I should choose a direction. I should just choose a direction and go. That’s what Eve would have done. That’s what Eve did.
She chose and she went. She could feel where she fit, perhaps. But she was not here long enough. This city was only beginning to discover her. We were all only beginning. It does not feel right, to be cut off at the beginning. Like mowing down sequoia saplings. They may seem so small that they would never get enough light to make it, but to kill them before they’ve had a chance to try– that doesn’t seem right or fair.
Life can be ugly sometimes. Birds shit on you. It rains when you have no where to go. People you love leave you. Lists and lists and lists formed in my mind of all the things and ways that life had become ugly since Eve left. It was so easy to list all of the things that the light had been snuffed out of. It was so easy to just feel cold and dark.
And then it began to rain. Of course it began to rain. It always rains in those moments when people are at the lowest. It either adds comedic effect or it tells us something about how the person might be feeling inside. A visual marker of how low things have become, how sad and wet and weighed down.
But rain could also wash away layers of silt and pain and loss. Rain could make someone new again. That’s what Eve said when we were caught in our first rain in this city. She danced in it and thanked the sky for helping us become new again. She was soaked to the skin and so was I, but we laughed, because we were new. Eve convinced me that.
So I sat there, letting the rain soak into me. It streamed down my face, rivers of cold on my scalp, into my clothes. I let it. I soaked it in. It came down harder and there was thunder and I did not flinch. I did not think of finding shelter because I did not care. I had nowhere to go and no one to go anywhere with.
All I had to do was sit.