Her steps turned to strides the moment her beige booties clapped against the cobbled road. Even her eyes shimmered––like pools of earl-gray brewing under the sun––before the marvelous sights that towered above her. She ducked under a branch stippled with cranberries and ascended the stone steps of the library just beyond. In an untouched corner, where the marble wall met her back and the trees loomed to secure her view and shelter her being, she gazed upon what had bloomed long since before she’d arrived.
Every towering structure was a shrine to a different time, distinct in their architecture and sublime in their own nature. There were the stone pillars of a Greek hall lined outside with juniper, the Italian domes with the golden ginkgo trees in front, and the clock tower itself––hovering above with bells that tolled every hour.
But not all was as picturesque as the erect dominions of her new surroundings. She had faced many a quandary upon her departure from the very place she was raised in. The perplexities that encircled her much like the halls of her new home were bittersweet. Every instance her steps echoed amidst the sterile chambers of where she’d gotten lost, she was reminded of the echoes within her own heart.
But it wasn’t letting go of home she feared. No. Home would always be a part of her, as a child is born with a brain, blood, and heart—so the very place they’re born in will be an unseeable mark upon them as well.For it is not home that is the downfall of our heart’s content when it’s away; it is all the things—all the love—that stayed there when we left.
She was ready to move on, no matter how great the feeling of pain attached to her was. She was determined to gain control and possess the feeling of longing so that it would diminish at her wish. But it was that same dramatic indignation within her that stifled her from catapulting completely from detachment. For sometimes, what is sought by the mind is not what is yearned for in the heart. And she knew of it all too well from the small place she came from.
But these buildings were of bigger worlds; inside they held the most esteemed minds with hearts as pure as their logic. But what they sought to explore in nature was not the same as what she was naturally inclined to feel.
See, change is a hard thing to be had because it’s happening all the time. Adjusting isn’t the tumultuous point either; it’s what might be lost when we learn something new. And that is what she feared most as she sat there watching the world change and keep moving. She feared that she might forget what it was she learned to love in a place and person she could no longer see. She feared that in learning new things, she would learn to be better than what she left behind. There is so much fear in letting go, and time can heal the wound, but it cannot make one forget what they once dreamed was always theirs. The heartbreak was, her dream had melted away when she’d left; and what she always yearned would follow her, chose to let her go. And when she sat upon the marble bench, her exterior cold and no one in sight, she knew what loneliness felt like and exactly then what she’d left behind.
Time. Love. Light. When all are had, it is a feeling too difficult to let go of. It’s happiness. It’s wholesome. But when separated and made distinct from one another, it is hard to fathom which one we have and which one we lost when they once all blurred together.
Time, the very concept the clocktower rang for, was itself a haunted angel that hovered above just as every building stood. But when a lovely breeze blew and stirred the boughs of the aged live oaks, she could sense a spirit’s calm. And when that wind, like a gentle hand, caressed strands of her mane across her soft flesh, she knew it was kind. When the sun shone down and warmed her irises from dark to a molten hue, she could feel the kiss like lips she once knew.
But if there was a spirit that needed calm, then it was none other than the one inside her. The change was inevitable, even the environment before her exposed the truth—but she didn’t fear the place she was in, and she was beginning to see that maybe what she left behind wasn’t worth the fret she gave. If she could learn to love herself as much as that which she left behind, then maybe love would come back to her just as warm, and so would the light of understanding at a time where she could capture it all better than she once did.
But for that moment, benched on cold marble, she knew she’d left the only home she’d ever known. And all she had was herself.
The bells chimed as the hour had come and she smiled.
Somehow, she wasn’t afraid of moving forward, because whatever good she brought the world, she knew she’d do it with all her heart. Light comes with the understanding of change; so she stood, knowing that what she left behind could grow if only she could blossom first.
The tolls had subsided as she approached the tower, placing a small hand upon one the many grey stones that comprised its structure. She wasn’t like the brick at all––not set in her ways to be part of one thing for the rest of her days. Soon enough, she’d too leave this place behind and learn to grow in the next chapter of her adventure wherever and whenever her life dared to take her.
Her beige booties clapped against the solid ground as she smiled to herself. She’d always remember this day for the sounds, the color, the comforting chill, and the very feeling that rushed through her heart the second she realized her life was wherever she made it.
-Kiran Bains Sahota