0034 – The Streets We Walk

Grünerløkka, Oslo 6th December 2018

Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve found patterns in the streets I’ve walked. Back and forth to the grocery store, sometimes to work, to the gym, to the door of a friend. My dad sent me a video this morning to the family group chat of a restuarant in KL where we used to go. “Do you remember this?”, he asked. Yes, of course I remember it. I remember every single thing, the smell of the curry, the sound of the cars behind on the street, the way you have to queue and how sometimes people would play music outside on the street, yes I remember that sometimes there’s a special with a crab curry and that seeing “LESS SUGAR” on the receipt will never not make me smile.

The habits stick in our minds just as much as the extreme experiences. I’d imagine a first time and maybe only time visiting a new city, of tasting a new dish or even of kissing another human being would be burnt into anyone’s memory but the deep patterns of the our day to day stick just the same, if not deeper. Maybe it is those deep set experiences that really affect us more than any fleeting highlight.

I’ve been lucky to know a few streets by heart. To walk until my feet carried the way and to become known to the people working at these places. I think constant travelling would kill me but this constant living is peaceful. I’ve been in Oslo for a little while now and my feet have take me to my old places. It’s a bit dangerous these days because everythig is covered in ice and it’s very easy to slip so my range is limited but I’ve managed to see the view from St. Hanshaugen a few times. I think to be known and to feel part of it is a deeply human need. I think of my friend who works with youth in Oslo and she is known by a small army of kids and teenagers. To know that one matters and that your actions matter must touch on the sublime.

Not only do we need each other, we need to feel like we need each other. I’m not going to make it if you’re not going to make it. Maybe I will but I won’t be the same. When I used to be quite depressed I used to ask W what he would do if I got hit by a bus. He said: “I dunno, CRY?”. It was a roundabout way of asking him: “What do I mean to you? Will you miss me if I’m gone?” because at the time I didn’t really feel like I deserved to exist.

W and I had our pattern of home, canteen and the main drag through the campus town. We would march up and down discussing anything that came to mind as if we were the only people in the world. We didn’t feel death, we didn’t think any of this would end even though we knew it had to. Time was moving forward and we survived by the skin of our teeth every fall, spring and summer – winter wasn’t really a concept in our academic calendar. Sometimes our walks took us far up the street to the post office or the CVS and sometimes down to the diner but at the end of the cycles we went all the way to the train station (do all cycles end at a portal?) and maybe the end sneaked up on us.

I remember the long walk to the train station. I don’t remember what we talked about but W was always a good talker. We split and I felt a deep blue. He turned away and wiped some tears from his face. We didn’t see each other again for two years but I walked up and down that street every day with him since through my memories.

Since then I’ve walked new streets, found new homes and new people to walk with and let those grooves run through the center of me. An old friend called me recently. He said that when people leave our lives they take a part of us with them. I believe in that. Part of being with someone is to give yourself to them and expecting that to be taken care of. What is the point of a frictionless, exchangeless interaction? What is the point of skimming when you can go deep. He and I hand’t spoken for a long time and there were shared memories that each of us kept but they were petrified like thousand year old wood. Each of us could access it but it was a cold retelling. Whom would we tell it to?

Everyone is unique and therefore every relation between two people is unique. Each different person brings out a different side of you if you let them and having the chance to deepen the grooves, to feel everything and to express – that is the privilege. Every day I mourn the loss of the sides of me kept by others but I also know they are kept in safe places since I would like to believe in the good in people.

I ran into someone I used to know on the streets a few months back and when we spooke it felt like water rushing into old canals that have been dried and disused for decades. You never really forget people, you never really stop feeling things if you were truly there. To be truly there means that part of you is with them and how could you forget yourself?

My coffee cup is empty and the street outside beckons. Maybe I’ll walk east to the park, west to the river, south to the city or north to the water. I feel lucky to live in the embrace of these patters, these paths and lucky that I can give myself to them. I’ll always be returning.

3 thoughts on “0034 – The Streets We Walk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *