Bookmark #591

When you return to a place after a long time, you feel this sense of belonged alienation. You see, the place has gone on without you, and there is little you could have done about it, for you have gone without it too. We are so much of where we live, and we seldom give credit to the towns and cities that shape us. Things happen, whether you exist or not, and that is something you learn over and over when you revisit places. I remember a street as I do; I know where all the places are, I know the directions, and I know the cost to travel around the neighbourhood, but it feels like all that I know and all that I think about it is now a relic of the past, even if things have changed little from when I last saw it.

We make an agreement when we leave: I will return someday, and when I do, things will be the same, but I will have lost my right to claim anything only because I left. To revisit a place is to be like a stranger to a friend, unintentionally and only by virtue of lost time. I wonder if the birds feel this, too, when it is winter and they come back home.

What happened to you since I left? We ask our cities and those we leave behind as if the answer is ever as easy as a list. Where do I begin? They reply in earnest, but they do begin and tell you stories. Before you know it, it is three in the morning, and you are talking about how different things would be if some things happened differently. You nod in agreement and say, perhaps, I would not have even left. But then, you know you would have because you know that is all you know to do: to leave things behind. And then, return and feign nostalgia as if you were not the one who chose to leave after all. To be a person is to lie, especially to yourself. There is no shame in it. It is how the world has worked for all these years, people have left, and places have gone forward without them.

// if you want to support this walk to nowhere, you can pitch in here