Jules had come with me, but by this time if I’m honest I’d taken her support completely for granted and it barely registered any more. That’s something I’d change if I had it to do over. But I don’t, obviously.
Anyway, I was pretty dumbstruck by the whole thing. I mean, literally I said barely a word to anyone all day. I just sat there, or lay there, or stood there while they explained what they were going to do. And then I just sat there or lay there or stood there while they did their thing. And the same afterwards while they explained what it all meant, and why in the end it didn’t really matter.
And I think I hadn’t really accepted it, you know? In spite of all the results and opinions and then flying out to Chicago and going through it all… and then we were on this architecture cruise tour thing of the city. I don’t remember who suggested it, like I said, I was pretty numb at this point, but after everything else even the velvety hotel with the huge furry bearskin duvet thing felt clinical and we both needed to get out of there.
So yeah, we’re on this boat and it was cold so there weren’t that many of us, and they asked where we were from and fussed over our accents and the girl was explaining that it was called ‘the second city’ because it had all been burned down and rebuilt. And how they had put out a call to architects all over the world to come help them rebuild their city. Which was why so many brave art deco designs had been given free range.
And we were standing there at the front of the boat, Jules behind me with her arms around my waist and the rest of her pretty much buried into my neck like she was a kitten and I was the furriest mama cat underbelly on Earth. And everything was in black and navy blue and white, and by this point I was so drained that I was just staring ahead.
And then, well, it’s like I said before, it was like somebody turned up the colour on a TV set – the old kind that faded to a dot when you switched them off – and somebody turned up the colour over the course of probably a minute until all the colours were over-saturated, and then turned them back down to exactly the right setting and not just black and blue and white any more.
And suddenly I noticed that I was hearing every word that the tour guide girl was saying, and that her scarf was half over her mouth and muffling her. And I somehow understood what she wasn’t saying too and caught a glimpse of who she was in this world and what this world was to her. And I could feel the dry air freezing the inside of my nose and then I could smell everything that Jules was thinking and feeling and I remembered how much I loved her and how I wanted to do something beautiful for her. And in that moment I understood that I was going to die and that it was going to be fine. It was going to be just fine.