Over a German dinner the Lad said Munich is just an imagined city to him now. Nothing there corresponds with anything here; it makes memories difficult to believe in. It’s the same thing with people you used to know, I guess. You keep souvenirs and letters, but after a while you’re looking at your shelf and wondering why you picked that specific shell up, why you bought that particular t-shirt.
I walk around this city and there are other San Franciscos just behind it where I lived with other people, cities whose geography I never really learned, cities bearing no resemblance to where I live now. It was always foggy there and always night. I have a confused impression of leering gargoyles, a swing on a hill, an avenue lined with abandoned earth movers; I don’t remember there being any people. With the Lad I seem to be forever in daylight and can see for miles and our routes always intersect other people, hoards of other people.
When I first learned about the bones in the forearm I was horrified at the way they so easily crossed and uncrossed with a twist of the elbow. Bones should stay where they’re put, I felt, and not make friends. Now I have the city bones, ulna and radius, past and present, crossing and uncrossing and making my skin crawl. It would be better for one to stay imaginary, living hidden in its proper place and performing its structural function unseen. Everywhere I look there’s a superimposed ghost that never really lived there, a story I made up to explain things to myself, and like a grown-up Alice I can see the almost-twins through the looking glass but can’t get back to them anymore, nor would I be happy there if I could.