The best, of course, is finding it for the first time

There starts to be a slow, ancient music with stringed instruments, the feeling of an old port or a royal dance on the other side of the world. . . at first you think it is coming from one of the shops, but as you keep walking it seems to be coming from all of them, then from everywhere. . . it is leading you now and without looking at a map you find your way to the river. There are so many red lanterns hung up in clusters on the bridge and in the restaurants across the water that it has the feeling of a fairytale–you’ve wandered into something a little brighter than reality. When you get halfway across the bridge you realize that there are boats in the water on either side, boats with wide blue stripes, barely visible in the dark. What you can’t see you can feel: the full hollowed-out presence, a day’s work done and come in, the tap of wood and the pull of rope. This first time, it doesn’t matter that you aren’t sure if the boats are just there for show or if they are really still used for fishing. It doesn’t matter that the glowing candles floating down the river are being aggressively hawked by whiny old ladies and bought by awkward fanny-packed tourists, or that you stupidly buy a boat ride from the lady with the biggest boat (you are only 1 person!) or that she tells you a sad story of an alcoholic husband and you listen with a half-closed heart because you are afraid she’s going to ask for more money and then you feel terrible when she doesn’t. The music is still there, it is inside you now and it always sounds like it did the first time you heard it.


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