In the last episode of People Watching, I’d turned the telescope around and looked deep inside myself. I find this happening more frequently these days and the value of such introspection is that you see things that otherwise would be easy to miss. I’d fallen down (as I call it) many times before and had long sought an explanation of why without any obvious reason I would periodically descend into feelings of utter despair.
I was alone in my flat and most certainly wasn’t enjoying my own company that cold winters night in Boomtown. I could feel myself slipping further down beneath those smothering unwashed sheets that served as a mental image for my despair and I knew I needed to fight back - to halt the descent. I’d been practising my fine art of surfacing regularly but it was slow and it was hard work and it was a challenge to give myself time enough to breathe.
And at the end was the realisation that the thing I needed most was to be with you.
I stumbled out of my flat without really thinking about what I was doing. Ignoring the temperamental lifts, I half ran, half fell down the stairs to the ground floor and stubbled across the empty square to the nearest subway station. My journey can only have lasted quarter of an hour but as my heart pounded in my chest, drowning out the drumming of the wheels on the tracks, I rode those tunnels for what seemed like a lifetime. I came back out and as I tried to adjust to the wind chill, I gasped for air. Standing at the exit from the subway, I struggled to orientate myself in the freezing drizzling blackness. The only features I could make out were a constellation of yellow streetlights – which star should I follow to make it to your place? Oh, how I prayed you’d be home.
Fleetingly, I wondered how such a seemingly mundane task – a short train journey – had become such a major personal battle and this strengthened my conviction that I didn’t want to be alone tonight. Right there in that moment, I knew I would do anything so long as it meant being with you.
You lived in one of the older, colder buildings in Boomtown in what had been an upmarket area, long since swallowed up by the unkempt sprawl of downtown. As I pulled open the door to the entrance lobby, I felt invisible hands fighting me, trying to keep me out. I could have taken this as a sign that my quest for company that night was doomed, but it was just the wind blowing through the old building and howling through the elevator shafts.
The creaking lift slowly, painfully took me up towards your floor and several times I thought about hitting the emergency stop button, to turn around and leave. But the contrasting thoughts of a lonely journey home through the bitterly cold night and the warmth of your smile drove me on. Eventually I hobbled to your door.
As I raised my hand to press the bell, it was as if an arctic blast grabbed me and threw me into a deep freeze hibernation – rooted to the spot, I simply couldn’t move.