Sometimes as I am walking home late at night, I scent her fragrance. No matter the exhaustion of all that has come before, no matter the exhaustion of all that is to come, these things mean nothing when I feel her near.
She waits, no doubt, for moments such as these: summer nights. And she waits for quiet, still hours where the silence swaddles the city forcing us to accept that we are alone.
And she waits for night.
Of course, she is here day and night and in all seasons; if not, this city could not exist, would vanish without a trace. Without her to hold up the enormous edifice of the city, not even a single story would remain of all the stories that have been built and written here.
Because though I know she is out there somewhere, she is not always with me. Indeed, she is rarely with me.
And though I wait for her – I suppose I am always waiting for her without knowing it – my surprise when, turning the corner I find her, is absolute. And no matter what has happened to me in the hours before that, I am young again, without wounds nor frustrated desires nor fear of death: I am everything in that moment when she appears.
We walk a while together, neither one talking for what would be the use of words? The sidewalks move slowly beneath our feet and the night hovers above us expectantly. In that silence I fill myself up again with her, drawing her in.
But too soon I can feel her drifting away, as if something else has already caught her interest. We may go on together a while more but already I know that someone else will soon be sharing her company. And I will be walking alone again but for the serenity of knowing that she is out there somewhere in the night.
If I wanted to find her, I couldn’t; she comes only when she deigns. Perhaps there are nights when I think she might come and she does, but they are outnumbered by far by the nights when I think she will and she does not.
It is as if every night when I am walking alone, it is possible that she will come and walk a while beside me. There is at least that chance and my awareness of that as I pass the darkened windows, or hear the talk of some friends on a balcony echoing across the night or feel the stillness in the trees, makes me walk more slowly, extending the night with each slow stride, just in case she might come to share with me a piece of the night.