Chapter 2: The Walk

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Following Chapter 1: Truvada

August 2008, my legs were leading the way. My mind was absent. I shouldn’t go there. The wounds were just still too raw. I couldn’t stop.

I had been there before. I was there last night. I was there that January seven months ago as well. The only part of Dublin I held no desire to visit again -Rathmines.

It had all started in August 2007. I was so lucky to have kept both my life and sanity after that night. But my rollercoaster life was about to take yet another twist downhill. And it all happened in Rathmines.
Last night we were driving around Dublin, searching for a place to eat. Suddenly the houses started to look familiar, the trees, the canal and even the sky.

“I have been here before,” I stated hesitatingly to the English guy.
“Is there a Subway restaurant around?” I asked. He shrugged.
“There is a Subway coming up here on the left,” I persisted.
“Where are we?” I pleaded
“Rathmines” he said.

My heart beat hurried. My mouth went dry. An iron hand grabbed my chest. There was the Subway restaurant on my left.

“Are you ok?” the English man asked with concern.
I shook my head.
“Have you been here before?” he asked.
I nodded.

There it was, the brick step on the corner facing Subway. It was still there, but then why would it have been demolished? I just had to look at it, to see myself sitting on it seven months ago. I don’t know how many times I choked on that Subway sandwich we were having during his lunch break, listening to what I was being told. His words were falling down, along with my shattered dreams and throttled hopes, onto that brick step in Rathmines.

I left the oblivious English man’s house on Baggot Street in Dublin4 at 1 pm. I was walking on my own, along the canal, approaching. The office lunch break would be over in 15 minutes. I slowed down. From where I was standing I was able to see the purple bridge. My legs felt weak. I halted. I watched a confused robin on the banks. It was not capable of deciding where to fly next. I was about to cry. I did not. I did not look at the people crossing over the bridge. It was 2 pm. Lunch break was over. The robin flew away. Blood flowed in my veins. My legs encouraged, I walked into Rathmines.

I was trudging the same streets again, the ones we walked together. Streets I did not think I would be able to face. The place was screaming with our images; the purple bridge, the yellow door and the green bench. I looked for the swans we fed, hoping they would remember me. The swans were gone. I was totally on my own. I felt gloomy. I sat on the green bench. It was so sad to realize that benches have no memories. It’s not fair. Do they remember me? Do they remember how happy I felt around them? Do they think of me? Do I still exist in Rathmines?

The wind was getting stronger. It brought a drizzle. I felt Nature’s conspiracy against me, pushing me to move along. I knew it. But the most difficult walk was yet to come. My heart sank even as my legs budged. I passed the little church.

The ground floor apartment was still there, where we spent that weekend together – the same weekend where everything went wrong. Things could never have gone more wrong.

The first window revealed the Buddha lamp on the bedside locker, the perfume bottle and facial cream. The enormous Syrian flag was still obscuring the second window. Through the third window I saw the beige couch and brown cushions. The fireplace was clear from the fourth. I did not dare slow down. I walked, passing the building. The end of the street was getting closer as the four windows were getting further behind me. I looked back and once again, I wondered: “Was that the photograph of the old ladder that I gave as a gift, hanging over the fireplace?” or was I deluding myself into the fantasy of still having a piece of me in that house in Rathmines?

I kissed my English boyfriend goodbye at Heuston Train Station on my way back to Galway, where I’ve been living for the past seven months. I snuggled in my window seat and hugged my puffy bag. I rested my head on it, smiling in reconciliation.

Stories start, stories end, but life is what happens in between the first glance and the last smile. That walk was my closure; a one-year-walk from that Irish man’s house off Dame Street to the Syrian man’s in Rathmines.

- Contributed by Gitanes Blondes

Guest Contributor

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