Ask me. Ask me what it feels like to feel the brightness of a city underneath my fingertips. Ask me what the cold loves to coil around, as it pierces our nostrils.

 

Ask me a question about when the last bus leaves. Forget that it’s midnight. If all else fails, the sun is sure to come up after some point.

 

Forget you’re alive, forget you have a body. Experience the city as if it is your bare soul brushing against the pavement.

 

Laugh, and laugh loudly, because every bit of you is exuding another layer of paint to color the square buildings that crowd the horizon.

 

Smell the sea from afar and tell me what you think it tastes like. Stare at the planes circling overhead and convince yourself it’s conventional.

 

Get lost with a person who knows how to find the way. Get overwhelmed by such an intense feeling of homesickness and freedom that you have to jump, to somehow transfer your energy back to the ground. Get a friend to waltz with you in the middle of a children’s playground.

 

Tell them they matter, just like the city has constructed a shell for people to inhabit out of sand and dust.

 

Tell them to go people-watching with you, tell them to concoct the wildest life stories for them to never live. Tell your friends how sad it is that often imagination is more interesting than reality, and tell them how the city is invested in convincing you of the opposite.

 

The city weaves a fabric of unreal quietude. The city beckons and shies away, dancing a tango you can only discern by the twinkling lampposts. The city is shiny and rugged, old and new and new even when it’s old.

 

Tell your friends you find the city suits them very much. Ignore your friends’ sarcastic sneer. Stare at a street corner because it makes you remember memories of secret spots from childhood.

 

Stare at the orange-tinted darkness of the sky until you get dizzy with light. Creep down a deserted alley like you own it.

 

Tell your friends you feel alive. Watch your friends smile a lazy, beautiful, snowflake soft smile behind a haze of smoke.

 

Inhale the familiar scent of family gatherings and smile back at them. The sand is soft underneath you, and so is the laughter resonating against the royal drink bottles.

 

You’re there, occupying space, just as the sea claims the shore, over and over again in an unsatisfying embrace.

 

The sky hangs low above your head, as the almost empty bus snakes through an unfamiliar series of streets that take you somewhere you recognize. Your ears are full of conversation, your hair full of someone’s fingers, tangling and untangling; it’s warm enough for you to dream.

Written by Martina Hysi

Edited by Maria Tirnovanu

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