The air here is thick with summer, clotted with heat that swells against the backs of our bare knees. It is an orange city. From the painted plaster to the low-hanging evening sky, and, more literally, the swollen fruit themselves that line the leafy walkways, trailing across boundary fences and clustering in breezy groves.
The city is extraordinary and we fall deeply in love with its ability to surprise us. It is drenched in historical markers, a topography of passing time tattooed between souvenir stands and the crass brashness of Dior display windows. We see everything, cramming our hours with a sprawling variety of visits and trips. It’s exhausting, but in an astonishingly gratifying way.
By midday, the sweltering heat has stopped us in our tracks and forced us to relocate. We sit together in a parched hillside park with peaches the size of our fists and I wish, perhaps childishly, that I could capture the sweetness of these moments – immortalize the ripeness of our youth as it speeds past. Perfection has always struck me as a potent, lazy word, but without its use here I am in danger of downplaying our happiness. Our friendship is such that we have found complete comfort in shared silences, momentary pauses that pepper our days.
As I’ve grown I’ve come to recognize that these types of soulful human connection are a rarity to find and so I cherish the powerful femininity I am surrounded by.
There is a sadness here too. This trip is an ending, the punctual closing of a chapter, for me anyway. This is something I have never been much good at and I cannot help but let splashes of anxiety encroach on our evenings as I contemplate the mindless, unplanned minutes that unravel before me at the other end of that landing strip. Our time, collectively, is scattered with the unknown and we all, I think, want concrete, answers, rules and directions.