vienna was cold when i arrived. a shadow of winter hung over the city and the shadow bit at my bare fingers and made me remember that i was alone. i gathered this solitude and wrapped it around me, around my belly, the curve of my back and my bruised knees (the bluey knees of a perpetual faller) and it was soft, like cotton sheets and the tinkling of a piano. for one week i lived alone in my empty apartment, toes sliding over cool wooden floors, eyes on blank, peeling walls. the light creeping through the window in the morning was the only thing in my bed and i was in love with it, a cleaner love, without tears or regret or time wasted.
i bought gloves, and a book that came with a big map and i kept them close to me in my yellow jacket. i had hot wine and wandered for hours without purpose or destination under a grey sky that was grey just for me. i met new people and smiled into my cup so they couldn't see my secret happiness. it snowed and they brought me to a party where i danced around and met someone who spoke english with an accent and asked for my phone number. in the morning, when i boiled water, my limbs were so tired i wondered if i could face the world (be a bit braver). i was brave, and we met in the wind and we walked through the darkening markets as i spun my map around and he asked directions at the bus stops. we ate (so little) under strings of christmas lights in a warm, smoky basement (the stairs to which i fell down, how childish, how nervous). we drank beer and flipped coasters and laughed and i hooked my arm easily in his… i felt freer in that place that was not mine to keep, and i felt my body against his, and we wished the time would not pass so quickly.
he left and the next days were cold as well. but the city was endless and spoke of beauty and stole me away in its stoicism and sensibility, reaching cathedrals and the weight of age. i drifted down alleyways and through art galleries. i stood and listened to hours of music and it gave me back something i never even realized was missing.
and now, alone again, in istanbul (my untamed lady, uncouth and raw) i am still cold from vienna and the chill reminds me of what i lost and found again and the growth of the world through small souls who try to be better.