These Brick Walls

I’m already forgetting. My vision blurs over and my eyes fill with tears as I scroll through the feed of photos. I touch the tiny pictures on the screen, trying to reach through and will myself to that now distant place. I squeeze my eyes shut. What did it feel like—the dirt beneath my boots and my whole life on my back? How did it taste—the language rolling off my tongue and the fresh air kissing my lips? 

I can’t remember anymore.

My life at home is full, consumed by electronics and emails and work grinds. The hustle. The resumés. The paychecks. The short-lived, empty conversations. The anxiety that sits below the surface of the city air, demanding us all to move faster, faster, faster. Something waits for us, they promise. I’m not sure what.

The city walls traps bodies; souls. Everyone keeps walking and talking, living without really living. We breathe without awareness. Our thoughts are short, our words harsh. There is no space. 

I try again to reach through the screen. Where did it all go? All I have are pictures on my brick walls in this city.

I often feel uncomfortable because I don’t belong here. It feels rude, offensive, to not love the city walls and the hustle. So I silence my thoughts and keep moving. I play the game.

I’m terrible at it of course—pretending.

I’ve started adding scribbled notes next to the pictures on my brick walls. One of my favorites is from Thoreau. It reads,

Be yourself—not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.

Because, what is the point anyway—of pretending and conforming? Our bodies rise to the beat of the clock and our souls can’t breathe. The longing for love and life are drowned with a drink bought with a shiny card.

In the end, it is not the places in the pictures I miss, but the souls that still exist there. They greet with hearts and forgo elevator speeches. They welcome me into their home to stay forever. I must go back before the brick walls in this city consume me.