Certain places in this city I cannot visit anymore. The block of Yates my ex-boyfriend’s apartment overlooks. The bus stop where he laid hands on me. The entrances to three favourite restaurants, sites of various arguments while smoke curled from his lips. I cannot walk past them. My body simply does not allow it.
I’ve never felt that way about your neighbourhood.
take me down that old forgotten path
When I moved this summer, I didn’t plan to end up four blocks from your apartment. The thought did fly by that you, one of the closest people in my life, would be in walking distance. I smiled at that thought as it flew by. Though we had always been something more than friends, I didn’t expect anything to happen.
Then, something did.
the one that leads to home
Perhaps because we saw each other even more frequently—so convenient for us to carpool. Perhaps because, after a year of being out, and dateless, as a trans woman, I didn’t want to be with men anymore. Mainly because we had flirted for about as long as we had known each other, and something had to give.
That something was a weekend of bliss, foot-popped kissed, breathless at the beautiful physicality of your body. Also breathless as I struggled to inhale, awake till early in the morning and pinching self blue to confirm reality.
Somehow I knew this couldn’t last. I was waiting for it.
it’s overgrown some places, others worn to sand
The morning after you ended it, you let me come over to grab my house keys, forgotten in the night. I walked the ten-minute stroll to your building, mind warped from exhaustion. Though I understood your reasons, your seemingly good-natured nonchalance when I saw you almost knocked me to my knees.
trees block out the blazing sun
Our neighbourhood never felt so vibrant as it did that morning. The church exhaled families as I passed it, the playground swung full, and the coffee shop wafted fresh cinnamon buns.
Though surrounded by infectious life, and decaying inside, never did any feelings cross my heart to move again, away from you.
dust and half-remembered dreams dog our footsteps
We’ve talked since then, about life’s little evils, and friends, foibles. We’ve haven’t talked about us, but we have world enough and time.
still, take my hand
Though my heart won’t wait for you—and you wouldn’t want it to—I’ll still be here, whenever you’re ready, to be anything but strangers who avoid each other’s streets.
and lead me down
My body still veers from those places my ex frequented, but my heart no longer cares what he thinks. I have found a new place in this city to make my own, and it has all the life and warmth I could possibly want embedded within.
this path you’ve always known.
This essay appeared in the zine and exhibit “Feeling Measurements” curated by Kerri Flanagan for Open Space Arts Society in 2018.