I stepped out into the cool air and pulled the door closed behind me, checking, as I usually do, to make sure it was closed. I was struck by the air immediately; it was so crisp, so fresh. I enjoyed its uncompromising hint of winter harshness on my face, and I realised that the weather is brilliant because it’s one of the few things in a city like this which makes you face your connection with nature, your own nature, where you came from and the animal you are. It’s all connected. I put my face in my book and stepped towards the main road, but once there the air was simply car exhaust like so many other places.
I walked up and through the park, with its soft carpet of leaves, multi-coloured. Stopping and looking are sometimes wonderful things, trying to focus on picking out one colour amongst the fallen leaves brought everything to life. I inhaled the pre-winter coolness and wondered why I felt good today. It seemed arbitrary: on another day the air would seem irritating, the leaves dirty cast offs. It seems lately as if there’s less reason behind my moods, my elevations and my depressions, than there used to be. Towards the end of the park I put my face in my book again because there was nothing more to appreciate in the vicinity of the bus stop.
I got to Liverpool Street Station early, but not as early as I had anticipated, which happens easily in London. 28 minute off-peak journey time my ass. I had finished the book so wandered around aimlessly and ended up settling looking at the maps of the surrounding area near the tube entrance. As soon as I saw her I couldn't help but grin broadly. There she was: a spectre from another time in my life, a ghost, but a ghost which smiled back.
I had expected it maybe to be weird, but I have been getting better at these sorts of things, and despite the odd moment it was actually a lot of fun. The old jokes, the memories, the usual things old friends cover, it all came spiralling back and it was easy, and the words flowed and I was glad I had agreed to meet her. I think perhaps the shortness of the time contributed to this sense, because had it been longer I think deeper things would have been discussed, and this was not the day for that. I saw her off at the tube and walked to the bus stop, calculating the route home and how many songs I would be able to listen to on the way.
I got off the bus and walked towards the park, John Lennon pumping through my ears. A thick beautiful fog had descended some time after I left Liverpool Street. I walked into its calm swirl, trees emerging and passing, solid amidst the ether. I stepped off the path and walked across the grass, slipping slightly and trying to keep my shoes clean. Well, clean-ish. For a time the fog closed in and I could only see a few metres in any direction. I felt like I was as the limitless ends of the world, in limbo, and that the cold air chasing around my neck was the only thing which could affect me in this endless place. Then the tall trees ahead of me struck their outlines through the fog and I was real again.
I switched off the music because I wanted to hear the sounds of the world, the squeals of children from the playground and the insect-like chatter of the crows. I turned around and took a few photos, and later a few more as I resumed walking home. Later they will be uploaded to my computer, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t look at them straight away. Photos are for when I am old, for dragging up memories. I took a photo for a couple who were also capturing moments; I had almost missed them asking me, stuck in the reveries of my own head. I saw the lights of the 29 bus near the park gate and headed towards them, to the main road, and home to make dinner.