Vienna, I Am Fine

You are a place I would like to go back to.

A place I had been when I was too young to appreciate its beauty — too soft to understand the seedy underbelly, too naive to know any better. You are a city I let touch me in the dark, one I left by train, one I meant to buy a postcard from or take more pictures of. Now I can only describe you right after I have seen a street that looks vaguely familiar, or have come across a bistro with the exact same name.

You are a memory that maybe looks better from far away, a little bit faded.

I kept all your letters. They are from another generation. You are fighting in a war far, far away. I send you a black and white photograph of myself; it is blurry and I am not smiling. You don’t ask for another one because it doesn’t matter. You just want to know someone is listening.

I didn’t understand then what you meant when you wrote about your hands. Or the gun oil. Or the ugliness. I always said the wrong thing. I thought I was tough then, but I still wrote to you about planting sunflowers. Still told you about the vanilla candles and missing something. Always something — never someone, not then, not yet.

I think of you every time I see a wheat field, which might sound pathetic or nostalgic, but all it really means is I don’t think of you as often as I should anymore.

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