A sense of place

I have always been absorbed by context, whether it’s historical or political or environmental. Really, these things are inseparable, and they weave into my own history an out of it like tendrils on creeper vines. Of the world, and in it.

I had asked whether the brutal monolith apartment blocks that lined the avenue between the airport and the heart of the old city were attributable to him.

I moved around a lot as a kid, every two or three years or so. Place became something meaningful, not just a location but a collection of sensations and impressions and people and their lives in that place, too. The texture of the earth underfoot or the smell of exhaust over petrichor is enough to take me back to places I haven’t been in years. The sound of crickets, the fall of light on a late winter day, a spark of unexpected coriander in an otherwise ordinary salad.

 I knew the scenes in my head were only partly authored by my own imagination. I arrived sceptical of my own expectations.

All of these shape experience, and all of these become the coral skeletons of the reefs of memories.

Through all those mundane exchanges, perfectly pleasant and polite, I knew I was stepping into a history whose depths I couldn’t hope to fathom.

I was recently asked to share impressions like these on The Writers Bloc, an online community for writers and those interested in the craft of writing. I wrote about Cluj-Napoca, a city in western Romania, and at one time the capital of Transylvania. I was only there a few days, but it left an impression on me. Please take a look.

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