or, How I Go On Loving London
After you leave, you can’t go back.
It’s good that London is old. It holds memory well. It bears up its edges, the mortar and the crust to take the dusty grime of memory and let it cling.
After something is smashed, it’s broken. There is glue, or there’s something bought new, but it will never be the same.
It is good that now love is love and not a minor tragedy — for me — like it used to be. So my friends I left behind in London knew the real me, and if they said they loved me, they really did. And I know I can count on that.
After you fail, you can regroup and recover, but you can’t regain that same joy of truth.
It is good that the earth spins, just enough to hold us on, to propel us forward, to keep the sun going up and down in regular motion. To make us feel we are moving on, even when the heart is beating fearfully hard in one, frozen place.
After all the noise of good-byes, we all have to turn our backs in the end.
It is good that nothing is cold, in my memory. That even in memory, the rain is soft and kind, the heartache and loss have quiet corners and easy chairs. Even gaping loneliness — the empty space in that attic room at Randolph Avenue, staring out the window at the planes in the Heathrow pattern, hours dying away — can be collapsed into a breath.
After all, I am gone. It is good, London. I remember.