The City That Swallowed Me Whole

I’ve never enjoyed a place so much as this city. 

At night, I notice a dozen new turns I can take on my next walk. Buildings here all sit in friendly juxtaposition. Neighbors are angled toward each other’s bright laundry lines and off-white halos of light coming out of their balconies after sunset. 

During the day, I take lefts and rights where I should be taking rights and lefts. I end up at riverbends, picnicking meadows, decorated bridges, unused courtyards, temples, twisted stairways, cafes, art supply stores, rooftops, old gazebos. I look out my own balcony in disbelief that a view like this could be my own. Sometimes, I pass the brick building front where I kept my first year-long promise to myself.

This Sunday morning, when I finish my run, the air is soft and cool, with trees flowering at full saturation. Their blossoms cover the mossy walkways and a photographer stares at the blooms on the ground with his own eyes, absorbing what his lens can’t. As I cross the cobblestones, a soft dog walks up to me for scratches. His owner stands a ways off at the crosswalk, giant newspaper spread out before him. Also at the crosswalk are two teenagers resting their chins amiably on their dad’s shoulder, and a mother sitting on the curb with her toddler outfitted in an empty backpack bigger than he is.

Closer by, a black squirrel checks me out upside down from his tree trunk. Tai chi classes in gazebos and tree clearings lean and wave, pigeon heads bob to the music on my airpods. A leaf blower wanders purposefully around the corners of the park where a mother is trying out her kid’s tiny jump rope. On the public lawn, four year-olds in jerseys squeal with joy as their coach scores on them. I pass an infant speaking in passionate gibberish to his grandmother, and subdue my joy when she responds in the same tongue. On the playground, I spot siblings going down the playground slide together and middle-aged mothers exercising in sync on the public equipment. Every inch of this park is being simultaneously enjoyed. 

This is the part of the morning where the restaurants start up and the smell of food begins to enter the edges of the park. More and more idling bicycles click by, sparrows chat. Scooters come, scooters go in the distance. The library’s glass siding reflects the first light of autumn and everything smells like it was born just after this rain.

The moment is filled all at once with the best that every season has to offer. Green has never looked so healthy, jogs have never been so easy. I run my hand along the dewy leaves of a crawler during my stretch. The tree trunks are all black this morning. I can’t remember Sunday ever feeling like this back home. My eyes fill up. I’m already home, aren’t I? What a relief to not be looking for it anymore.