Cities, Islands, Longings

Cities.  Self used to love cities.

The name “New York” alone conjured all sorts of emotions, years and years before she actually visited.  And then, what fascinated her most —  and still does — was the ride from JFK to Manhattan, the tall tall buildings, especially when viewed at night:  their stacked lives, each glowing window a story.

She still loves to stand in her brother-in-law’s kitchen, where a window above the sink has a view of the building next door.  Over how many years has she stood, perusing living rooms illuminated by glowing lamps, and seeing ghostly arms and hands gesturing or reaching for objects —  books, cushions, another person? Curiously, she can’t recall ever seeing faces —  only extremities.  The windows both reveal and conceal, a mystery so powerful self can never ever stop herself from looking.

She didn’t realize she loved cities until she’d spent many years in California.  Then, each return to Manila was emotional.  San Francisco seemed small by comparison.  Self missed the crush of bodies, sometimes the cacophony.

Now, self doesn’t love cities:  she loves islands.  She loves the idea of islands.

Or perhaps it’s the idea of escape she loves.  Escape in the form of an island.

Every writer needs to have this.  Some little space.  Some little world.

Water separates the island from the usual.  An island is simultaneously surrounded, enclosed, adrift.

But because a writer is a perennially divided self, both of a place and “other,” self suspects that when she finally achieves her dream and moves to an island —  then she will begin to miss the dry air and freeways of California.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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