Sunday, December 18, 2016

Budding romances

New addresses are like budding romances. There is the thrill and excitement of knowing a new city, its many hidden gems and secret nooks. Every day is a surprise, an exploration, a new page of a diary, a brand new chapter of a book. The thrill of discovering a restaurant serving your favorite cuisine. Or a cozy little coffee shop inside a quaint mall with your favorite corner, a little obscure, to sit and read in anonymity. A lesser known road lined with colorful trees. New sights of the changing seasons. Of streets never walked before, and houses never seen before. New smells and things that feel different under the skin. Who knows where this road leads to, and what stories lay in the nooks and corners of these buildings? The sun is the same, but the sunshine seems different, falling on unknown objects and making them glow like new. Like a snow-capped mountain or lavender field that gets you all excited while blasé drivers zoom past without stopping. As I walk back home every day, taking a different road every time, every new house excites me. I see little Christmas lights glowing inside, newly decorated trees, and wonder who lives here, what their stories are. Relationships are the same. They come with the excitement of the unknown, the smell of a new book, the newness of a spring flower. The world is out there for you, waiting to get explored, and discovered. Even the sparkle in the eyes thrills you, because it is new for you. That is how this city feels like right now.

With time, some romances fade, and others turn into love. When the dust of the newness has settled, it leaves behind the comfort of predictability. Knowing all the roads and where they lead to, where they start and where they end. Knowing every little restaurant and every little garden. Knowing exactly where to take the guests. And what roads to avoid during game day. Like living with the same person for 20, 50 years, and waking with them every morning, holding hands and feeling the same love every single day as you take a walk. Romance changes to love, and the excitement of the unknown to the comfort of the known. Because what you created in between is shared history, shared memories. Memories that are unique, like carrying a piece of their DNA in your heart. The city's. The person's. Calling someone and already knowing how they say, "Hello?" on the phone. Or respond when you call out their name in a crowd. On nights that I am working late and all is quiet outside, I can hear the horn of the train with routine predictability. I derive a strange sense of comfort from that sound, just knowing where it is coming from and that it happens every day, although I am sitting miles away from the train and cannot see it.

Because places are not much different from people. You live in them, you live with them. You grow with them, and they grow on you. Familiarity sometimes breeds contempt, and romance dissipates, love evaporates. Until you see things from someone else's eyes, from a new perspective, and perhaps remember what it felt like all those years ago. Because we are creatures of habit, and new places mold us into new habits. Like, I drop by the grocery store every day from work, even if I do not need anything. Because the aisles feel familiar, the people feel familiar. That is the comfort of familiarity. Then sometimes, I take a different bus home, and am surprised by the newness all over again. And thus continues my romance with this city, turning a little bit into love with every passing day.


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