This city

It’s been a while since I last sat in these semi-comfortable chairs to write. They feel smaller this time. I’m on the fourth once more, looking listlessly out of the windows at a building whose usage must have changed dozens of times before it reached its current state. I went on a little walk this morning, following cobble stones and concrete pavements, down alleyways and past tiny barber shops where only lone old men sat gazing out of windows in to streets. This city is teeming with life, and oftentimes I wonder if that life is lived or simply born. I watched as a man rested against a stone wall covered in grime, the cold seeping through his khaki jacket. He drew in slow puffs of his cigarette and rested his head back against the stone too, looking up at the roofs and cloudy sky. A woman in a tight black suit walked by. A man in jeans and a workman’s jacket. A street cleaner. A police officer. A mother with her child. The man let the smoke escape through his lips and mix in with the exhaust fumes and tainted air of the city. Not one person glanced at his face. He was undisturbed, alone, with thousands of steps echoing past in the time it took him to burn through his cigarette. He too did not look or notice me looking over. He dropped the cigarette to the ground, stepped on it, shrugged his shoulders letting some of the cold roll off his body and went through a door never knowing if anyone noticed.

I was moved by the streets. Moved by my walk and by the sounds and clatter of the bells on Jermyn Street. Armed, I scrawled in blue ink:

There are layers and layers of this city we don’t know yet try to find. Swathes of mystery and wonder. Narrow alleyways where barely a single step is heard and carriageways of thousands. We are the beat and pulse, yet to these walls of stone and grime what are we but specks of dust or falling drops of rain that slide away from day to day. Yet these walls and stones would not be, if not for our hands, our sweat and our endless dreams.

To say this city does not inspire me would be a lie. I’m happy and grateful for being here.


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