George Street … up the hill on the other side …
The old town winds round nooks, surprisingly situated shops, and vennels – not alleyways, proper Scottish vennels.
Cobbles and piercings walk you up Cockburn Street.
Leith Walk as it promises, promenades you down to Leith, still its own town despite being subsumed into the city years ago.
Everywhere, pubs and cafes spill noise, warmth, and ripped music straggling in the wind.
The fresh Scottish air mixes with the diesel of buses, the warm smell of alcohol, cigarette smoke from Regal Kingsize, roll ups.
It has been so long since I have seen university students.
It has been so long since I have seen homeless people.
It has been so long since I have seen purposeful, young professionals stepping into taxis with wealth and good fortune pressed into their perfect George Street clothes.
Sometimes I’ll be watching a film or listening to a song or singing to myself. I’ll see something on the news or the newsfeed. Or I’ll be at a kitchen table talking with some friends about something difficult, really being honest for once.
Maybe the preceding day has been painful.
It doesn’t open just because the children have been constant all day, or if I’ve had another writing rejection. If I’ve been the source of a social faux pas – and I’ve had many! it stays resolutely shut.
Sometimes I’ll know it’s going to be a day when it opens up, but sometimes I don’t.
The last time I could almost feel the crack, the hinges swinging. Like an internal door, the echoing space, empty but so, so full.
I’m talking about the place inside me where all the tears live.
I know, I know.
I wrote about ambulances just the other week there.
We were coming out of the cinema,
and the traffic was what I thought was Sunday-night busy.
It turned out everyone was sticky-beaking
at the accident,
and when it was our turn to nose out into the flow of traffic
– our lane was perfectly clear by the way –
I slowed down too.
One car had shunted another.
Everyone looked OK.
The ambulance was there, not rushing off, which I always take as a good sign.
Four … fire-fighters?
were pushing the car
out of the road
so that we could all get home.
One had the car door open and was pushing both in and outside the car.
They were running.
Running the car off the road.
So we could get home.