My heart never fails to swell just a little when someone mentions your name or I catch a glimpse of you on the television. I’m proud to call you mine. Your cobbled streets and tenement stairs, your uneven rooftops and that brewery smell; they’re mine, all mine. I was seventeen when I fell for you, when you filled that little hole in my heart I didn’t even know was there. Sometimes I think of all the souls who have gone before me, centuries and centuries worth, and wonder if you did the same to them. Every little piece of history has seeped into your pavement cracks and now you’re saturated with ghosts and memories and never-ending adoration.
I never love you more than in those few dead hours between the darkness and the dawn. Summer air warm and still, walking slowly with my heels clutched in my hand and my head all dizzy from the drinking and the dancing. Smiling and laughing and chit-chattering, sometimes. Other times, completely alone and soothed by the silence. My favourite time is when the night changes into morning and the sky gets that glow that makes me smile. It turns four and everyone else is asleep apart from me and the last of the taxi drivers; my eyes are always tired but I want to stay awake to watch the golden-pink glimmer of the sun break over the rooftops and set the chimney pots ablaze. I lie curled in my bed, watching through the open window, and it feels like I’m the only person in the entire city. Just me, alone. Content.
You’re so familiar, it’s like I’ve known you forever. Before forever, even. Every street and every close reminds me of some thing or some one. Like the slope of the pavement on the snowy walk home the second time I met A, winding down Victoria Street with the tiny fairy lights and it didn’t even look real. Or the struggle up to the Castle Esplanade on hot, sticky mornings ready to help everyone else fall in love with you too. Or the hundreds of times C and I have stumbled down the cobbles of Niddry Street, praying that we’re not too late for chips and cheese.
Everyone loves you in the summer, Edinburgh, but I love you in the winter too. When the snow falls and for a little while you look like a fairytale; the sky heavy and bright, and tiny flakes collect in the corners of windowpanes. You’re beautiful in the spring too, as the cherry blossoms line the Meadows and the birds begin to sing before I’ve even gone to sleep. By the autumn, the air feels different and I can feel something new rumbling in my bones as the leaves turn and the days get shorter. A city for all seasons – sometimes all in one day.
You’re in my heart and in my head, coursing through my veins and in the tips of my toes. You are perfect, you are home. Even when it’s raining again and I’m waiting at the Cameo for the number 10, I couldn’t ask for anything better.