It’s not so cold and it’s not so bright anymore. No people either. I’m all alone. It’s not a bad feeling, in fact, I admit I enjoy it. I don’t feel as alone with the buildings blotting out the sky or the river just a few blocks away. I should be sleeping, but I’m not. I don’t mind, no amount of caring will force me to sleep.
It’s a nice night and I can’t help thinking of another night not so dissimilar. A night when shorts and tight shoes carried me to my dreams. I knew where I was going then, does it matter so much now? The river is quiet. It always is from so high up. Streetlights illuminate the roadway at its edge - the parked cars and bike paths. I hate the sidewalk. It’s barely wide enough for two people to pass, let alone the bikes that whiz by from time to time. It’s too late for all that now, though. I didn’t see a soul up to this point and I know I won’t see another. I’ve done this before after all. This is a journey I’m glad to repeat.
It’s a clear night, but that doesn’t mean I can see the stars. There are tradeoffs anywhere you go it seems. The quiet followed me though. Somehow. It’s the kind of thing you don’t notice as you walk, even as my footsteps are the only sound in my ears. It was so much colder before. Is that all I can think of?
In the early evening, when there’s a game, this place hums like a beehive. People are everywhere, exiting the subway, entering the stadium, lingering around the KFC just outside. I keep walking, keeping by the edge of the street. I didn't know anyone then. They may have walked right by me, but I was still a world away. At night it’s different. A memorial where spirits hang in the air. Champions and legends, names which will be remembered even after I’m gone. I look at the statues and pause. It’s cold, but I don’t care. It’s not cold enough.
Back then I was single-minded, bordering on obsessed. I’d gone so far for this thing and it was so very close. Now that it’s not there and there’s no tent, no queue, no signs and banner, what am I doing here? Wanting is enough, right? Wanting brought me this far once and it’s doing the same this time around too. Sometimes you can convince yourself of something on will alone. Just tell yourself it’s what you want and poof, there it is. It’s still what I want.
I caught a glimpse of it then - of that thing I was chasing. Smiling so wide my cheeks are sore just thinking about it. And there are tears at the corner of my eyes, but that’s fine with me. I came this far for a reason.
The street is winding. Past the stadium, right past the arena, straight and to the left and finally left again. All the while escorted by those who will always have accomplished more than me. There’s no point in competing with them. I’m here of my own accord.
I knew it. The tents aren’t here. It’s quiet, quieter than it was that night. The streetlights are few, the bathroom door is locked. It’s all the same and so different. A few hundred less people and I’m all alone. Is that what I can so far for?
I know why I came. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I’d chase it this far again if that’s what it took to feel like that - like everything in the world is perfect. It’s cold in the mountains, so cold that breathing hurts. It’s cold here too, but memories are warm. Just go back to that spot where I spent all that time and think. I did it once, I’d do it again. It’s just about having a reason.
Sometimes a few nice memories can save the day.