I thought about you, dreamt about you, wrote about you, talked about you every chance I got. I couldn’t return soon enough.
Even as I approached, from 30,000 ft. up, parting a lavender sky tufted with sun-dusted shadows, I traced with my eyes the fiery rivers reaching toward your harbor, ablaze with golden light like so many gilded snakeskins shed haphazardly across the mountainous region. A fortress of buildings, those monolithic sentries, lined your shore, flooding the farthest reaches of my being with anticipation.
Our initial reunion was brief, but I was to return for a longer sojourn in less than a week, and then we would be able to reacquaint ourselves properly. I had already set aside an entire day to explore your wilderness, to commune with the stark honesty hidden amidst the trails overlooking your beaches.
But I was too blinded by the past to see how jealous you had become. The deliciously tumultuous part of you that spoke to me so passionately only six months ago had become impersonal and even cold to my touch. You wouldn’t let me get close to you again.
Oh, how I had longed to return to your hazy, cacophonic embrace! Yet as I stumbled toward you, drunk with joy (and later, Irish whiskey), you stripped me of my identity beyond what could be called mere anonymity and left me naked and scared, completely helpless and at your mercy, before I had a chance to even say hello.
Attempting to weather the aftermath of my own bravado, I became ashamed by my previous assumption that you would remember our past the way I did. I could hardly look myself in the eye, let alone glance at the riddled memory of our raucous evening together long enough to figure out where I had gone wrong. Thoroughly chastened, I returned to my solitary cell, head down and shoulders turned against your musty winds, silently begging forgiveness while still unsure of what it was for which I needed to atone.
When I returned, only several days after fleeing your wrath, you bruised my ears with your insistent murmurs that my halcyon musings were colored with delusion. But still I set forth, determined to regain my paradise lost, stalking your streets with conviction as I lingered in your grocers’ stalls and dined at your chefs’ tables, only to be knocked down once more by a polluted wave of soul-numbing apathy.
On shaky legs I stood again, but now my head was heavy and my lungs ached, smothered as I was by your smoggy breath.
I submitted at last, playing the role of the defeated just as you had intended, and readied my bags to leave. I packed no trinkets, no souvenirs, only the surreptitiously gathered fragments of what you had so wantonly broken. The days ahead loomed large and the harbor lights had dimmed on what would prove to be a dreary morning; yet as I closed the door behind me, I couldn’t stay my eyes from looking back once more.
And still I swooned.