In Love With A City

He was lying to face me with his head snuggled in my laps. He had been talking and I had been listening for hours. He was my something but I am not even anything to him, I guess. But I liked to hear him talk. I wanted to know what I had in common with him.

“Do you know what it is like to be in love with a city?” he asked, his eyes shining and it was not a trick of the light. He was light himself, despite his dark clothes and messy hair. I ran my hand through the black mess, just to mess it up further the way I liked.

“Tell me.” I whispered anything but a yes/no answer, because I knew already. And I liked to hear him talk.

“It’s the feeling you have when you travel to a new city. The novelty, the newness attracts you and you find it exhilarating. But then you don’t know if you really want to stay forever. Bad things don’t quite rush to surface for the eye of tourists.” He waved his hand as he talked and I wondered if I got that from him.

“Elaborate,” I said in the manner one would use to order. I wanted to feel in control, but he was never mine to be controlled. So the tone was fake to my ears, really.

“Remember that time you went to Da Lat with your family? You really like that place, but you don’t want to move there. You don’t want to go to school there. You hate not having traffic lights.” He laughed, and I geared up to tease him back. It seemed I had trouble teasing people I put on pedestals.

“It’s just weird. You don’t have a reason to stop and check your reflection through rear mirrors.”

“The point stands. You love Da Lat, but you don’t want to stay. It’s like loving someone but don’t want to marry them. Spend your life with them. Have little babies with them.” He kept waving and I wanted to grab his hand. “Da Lat is not your spouse town.”

“Vung Tau is my spouse town, then.” I decided, because I hadn’t been able to imagine my life anywhere else back then. “Do you have your own spouse town?” Do you want to stay somewhere? Have a permanent home? With me?

“No, I haven’t.” His answer made me sad in some way, so I lowered my head to kiss him. I tugged at his bottom lip and hoped that would wake him up, make him realize that he could stay here with his mother instead of going away again. Never worked.

“You know we are never going to work as a couple, don’t you?” he asked, a bit nervous. I don’t like him that way, not confident and not carefree. Especially because of me.

“Of course, you dumb shit.” I said and kissed him again, just because I could.

Of course I know what it is like to fall in love with a city. It does not always love you back. You can linger there, but it does not fancy accommodating a doe-eyed tourist. Sometimes, you’ve got to get the best you can and be back on your track. It only accepts you as a wanderer whom it wants to impress with its attractions and landsite.

It would not keep you.

So I kissed him again to shut him up and to get the best I could.


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