Today I left the house for the first time in a week. Put on jeans and socks and shoes, grabbed my phone and house key and walked outside into brilliant late afternoon sunshine.
Being insulated from the city for even a short while can make you forget its allure. How the sounds and smells of busy intersections make the skin prickle. All diesel and dazzle. Horns and shouts and the quick whips of wind as cars roar past. People clutching coloured bags and cellphones and dog leashes as they navigate sidewalk obstacles, rushing breathless toward the streetlights.
My legs begin to remember the rhythm, muscles reacquainting themselves with bend and curve and stretch. A few steps around the corner leads to near-quiet, a leaf-lined sidewalk beneath the curves of old trees. And every few metres the fierce last flashes of light between branches as the sun defies its draining hours of daylight. And then the squeals of children in the park, a sound that carries above our heads, above the trees, and into an October-blue sky. A dog barks. An old Asian man is clapping and smiling. This grass still smells of summer.
Down an alley and then suddenly the rush of traffic again. The streaks of colour as cars and taxis and streetcars blur pass each other on the bridge. Warm wind lifts the exhaust from the air, sweeps the grit from my teeth. Below, the thrumming of the commuter train turns into a frenetic waltz, one two three, one two three,; it shakes the railings, as the dissolving afternoon light stretches across the tracks. I close my eyes and feel its warmth on my skin.
And I realize how much I have missed the city, even for those six days. Its constant hum and wash of sound, the depth of shadow and the warm richness of its light.