Sunday, 19 June 2016

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”

To most people this tiny bit of pavement means absolutely nothing. It's walked on a thousands times a day as a passage to somewhere else. People pass it by without any thought. It's just on your average London street. It's just a place to rent a bike. It's just a place of no real significance. But I'm not most people. To me this is one of the most important places in the world. I've come to realise that a place doesn't have to be beautiful or interesting or anything out of the ordinary to be important. It's how you perceive it and emotionally what memories are attached to it. It's funny how the most mundane place can suddenly become one of real purpose. 

We walked hand in hand to this place, tired from the night before, cold from the fresh air. It had rained heavily earlier in the day and there was a big puddle on the pavement. He cheekily tried to push me in it. I held tightly onto his arm to pull him in with me. We didn't talk much and we stopped when we reached this spot. There was nothing out of the ordinary about our goodbye, but then why would there be. I remember feeling a bit strange, probably because I didn't want to go. He said "so, next week" I said "see you later". We kissed for the last time. And then I turned and walked away. I glanced back part way up the street to see if he was going to cycle past me but he was gone. This is the last place I saw him. This is the last place I will ever see him.

I've been back to this spot three times in the past month. The first time was the Sunday after and I was walking from St Paul's to my house. I'd been walking for an hour and a half and just finished a phone call with his sister for the first time. I found my feet take control and automatically walk me to where I needed to go. I wanted to tell him how lovely his sister sounded and this was the place to do it. I didn't know how I would feel when I got there but as soon as I drew nearer I realised I felt OK. I stood there and the time passed. Five minutes. Ten. Twenty turned to thirty. I was there for over half an hour, not thinking of much. Unable to leave. I tried to move my legs, telling myself I shouldn't stay. But I had to. Walking away felt like I was leaving him. It took all my will power to turn my back and take my first steps.

I wonder how many street corners hold the secrets of a first kiss or how many bus stops were the location for bad news. There must be so many places that seem unimportant and yet, to someone, they mean everything. The world is a beautiful place and we should appreciate it. It is what we make it. I don't need a grave or a memorial for James. All I need is my mind. This is the place I feel nearest to him. It brings me comfort to stand here and think of him. I'll keep visiting it when I need him and to tell him my adventures in the world. It is our place. 

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