Sunday, February 26, 2012

The view from an apartment building several flights up on a Saturday night is both engaging and dispiriting at the same time. The wall is all glass windows in this modern brick box, but only one opens to usher in the cool air tonight. My beloved city is spread out below me, alive and moving with precious Petri dish creatures and Petri dish cars that were cultivated in my heart and in my head with the greatest affection. Just below lie the black tops of buildings, cold and inhospitable. But out beyond, there are lights strung along, all in rows, each bloom separate: these luminescent daisy chains that were braided in the evenings walking back from cinemas and music venues and book stores and coffee shops, dizzy with the rapid warmth of a hot apple cider--stroking a cinnamon stick in its dregs--or ruddy with laughing in the black night with friends.

Out to the left I see the Arch, avoided like the plague, a dangerous black hole sidestepped each time I returned home. Down below, there are people zigzagging the streets, calling to friends--the same streets I have risked a timid toe on green. The same streets I have crossed running, and walking nonchalantly behind sunglasses, and slouching beneath a backpack. Around the corners where buskers sang and strummed for their supper or rent or maybe just lunch. The streets are buzzing and alive with the same gusto and energy that were captured this afternoon, on a brisk walk around campus, admiring the cozy and old brick buildings so full of history and life. Further down can be seen the edges of the green walks of North Campus, where blooms were flowering in droves this afternoon, blisteringly beautiful and aching to be admired. The slatternly branches of trees supported the strings of hammocks and housed bees and bushy squirrel tales barreling up and down them. All through a little window hole, the little door that eluded Alice, I call for someone to turn a head to me up here.

Behind me are clusters of people talkingandflirtingandlaughingandleaninginclosertohearwhatyoujustsaid. “But isn’t this apartment great?” Snatches of speech and house music and the pouring of drinks and the slapping of backs and the closing of doors and the wet smack of ping pong balls on the tile floor, on which party fouls were quickly committed and just as quickly cleaned up. Just below lie the black mounds of the buildings (but to see their faces instead of their bald, exposed heads!). I leave my barely-sampled drink there on the brick ledge--two hundred tiny sips wasted, twenty big swigs abandoned, toasting alone to the glowing downtown cityscape of Athens.

Photo credit: James Ryang

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