My heart belongs to the rivers. I have spent too much time with them. I've never lived far enough from one, and I always find myself coming back. I have a problem with impermanence; I don't like losing things or throwing them away, least of all memories. So maybe it's ironic that I find comfort in something that is always moving. They do say, after all, that you can never jump into the same river twice. I've never tried it - jumping in, I mean - although I've sometimes felt like it. The desire to be swept away is nothing unique, and ultimately you're left with the unpleasant thought that if you were to dive into the Thames, you'd most likely wash up in some godawful deserted seaside resort with a pebble beach and pebble-dashed houses and pebble-dashed people, quiet but never quite empty, which is always somehow worse.
But that's how I picture my life. And when I think back on my past, it mostly involves sitting quietly and watching the water run past. Whether it's stumbling down the South Bank with friends, laughing and drunk and bumping into Navy boys in perfect uniforms, or sitting by the Neva in winter, reflecting on how different the cold is in Russia, how it seeps into your bones and attacks the very centre of you. And lately, a quiet walk down the Clyde with a boy I love. It's cleaner now than it used to be; millions invested in redevelopment and gentrification, with the only traces of old industry the rusting cranes in the distance. There's a certain windswept melancholy to it still. Maybe I'm projecting. But there's something about the sweep of leaves on pavement on a clear, silent autumn day. I tie these memories to the seasons, and there isn't a summer night where I don't think of the Thames and the electric orange lamplight glow. Or a cloudless winter morning where you can see your breath, and I'm transported back to sharing a bench with a Russian girl and her umbrella, watching a man in a tracksuit running, and throwing himself into the river, and we look at each other as if to say, suicide or exercise? She shouts over to him, something I can't understand, because ehhhm, Angliskii, I know just enough to argue with cab drivers using hand gestures.
I'm a city boy. I don't like babbling streams or torrents. I like the broad flat canvas of a city riverbank. It feels comfortable, sedate. Call me a loner, but that's the time when I feel most part of a community, as if the buildings are reaching out to touch the water and all the people within are looking out and saying, this is ours, if only for a second.
Iron Noder, Desperation Edition. 1/20. 3 hours, 44 minutes left on the clock.