I’m a city girl.
I dream of living somewhere I can cycle where ever I want to go with my skirt flying in the breeze and only green around me, I’d like to live alone, in the mountains or beside the sea and always feel like I am part of something infinite — this fantasy is enough to tell you that I’m a city girl through and through. I’ve grown up in a several cities, and now once again, I am in a new city.
The two cities closest to my heart — not always dearest, but closest by choice and by faith — I would like to think I know well, but I do not know them at all. I am always getting lost, even a few hundred metres from my house. Everything looks familiar and at the same time chaotic, but I am sure it will be okay, because I must be part of this living, breathing organism. I remember these draws of cells from school, and how every little ribosome and mitocondria looked like a creature by itself. I fancy myself a centrosome in a huge cell, which is a tiny cell in something bigger that I cannot know.
I realise an adventure I have had with all my closest friends — deciding to get lost. I am usually lost anywhere within five minutes. Infinity hasn’t gone anywhere in the city, it is just even more incomprehensible, while my brief visits to the mountains and oceans is fuelled by being completely overwhelmed (and all the Coleridge and Wordsworth that echoes in my head). Sometimes, of course, it – the city – is finite, I do not think about how endless the universe is every night in the city. And then it is also boundless but all concentrated in one small dot, some mathematical twisting which I can barely understand — this sense of being completely unknown but always watched, lonely but never alone, this wonder at human progress and this despair at all of humanity.
I don’t know why I write so much about the city — I say now “the city” instead of cities because that’s what it suddenly becomes — every city is the same and completely different. I write more about the city than about lovers, maybe because I believe the city is my greatest lover, someone I can never know completely. Someone who makes me feel like a stranger sometimes, and then like no one could know me better in the world.
I’m in a new city now, and I spend a large amount of time reminiscing about the old. Anything can trigger it — an ice cream shop, a ring tone, an old Hindi song.
(T brings me ice cream in the middle of the night because I have cried too much, over what, I do not even remember. I eat it a slobbering mess while T laughs. S and I talk over the phone half an hour after saying goodbye at college, and I wonder how we have still not exhausted topics. P would ride his bike while I sat on the back dizzy from a little alcohol and he continuously hummed under his breath.)
Friends reassure me that I will grow to love this city, and I don’t yet know about love but it is creeping up on me. I now feel reassured that I will not die in traffic because I understand how vehicles move. I get lost almost every other day on my way to college, but I usually reach hoping that all roads will lead to Rome. And I spy on my neighbours every morning and every evening as they spy back on me. But what is that mundane profundity that love always surprises? So I have stopped waiting around for the precise moment that I fall love.