This moonlit night, I made a long journey. A storm was on the horizon; a sadness crept up, the night I wasn’t prepared for. It would rain, I knew it. You see, connections hold us to places, strange and unexpected connections. If I’m lucky, you may wonder what holds me to Basel. I can write you a long story, I can write you a long truth, or I can lie to you. It’s true that the first day I was ever there, it rained. I walked along the Rhine, I seem destined to walk along the riverside. It calls me every time I’m in the city. Its vastness stops me in my tracks. Over the sunlit tops of factory spires, there are always clouds of smoke heading in the same direction. Such is the stability of Basel. It has held me into a solid state of reality and wiped the illusions from my eyes; the eyes in which I viewed the world. I never knew I would return to this city; I never knew I’d be connected to this city; I never knew I’d make my way back here in so many different ways; I wasn’t looking for anything but the openness of being away from my cloistered and suffocating existence; it was a time during which I had forgotten myself and I was only trying to find my way back.
So that first morning, I woke up early; I felt an excitement in my dried blood, an excitement that had left me entirely. You know those times in life when everything you have cared about is lying in a pile of ash in a shoe box you hid under your bed? Perhaps you don’t, I can see that it’s slightly specific. Nevertheless, that first morning, I was making my escape for a few hours. I won’t deny it, I was extremely vulnerable. I was like an open shell, you could reach in and pull out my heart, you could hurt me so easily; that’s the condition I was in; everything was so raw. So I dressed, I had my tea, I had some breakfast and I got in the train to this place, to Basel. My blood was starting to drum slightly; after so long, I had the space to just be myself, vulnerable or not. I remember getting off at SBB, the central station. I remember thinking hard about the direction I had to go in; knowing myself, my sense of direction is absolutely convoluted. I had to find the way, I didn’t want to be late on my first day. After so long, the bright sun was reflecting the mood of my mind; the wind was a little chilly but nothing more. But I made it, several twists and wrong turns, and I was there. In this green and white building, away from my reality back home; living my escape. It felt so good and so simple. That’s when I first met you. I remember, I wanted coffee and I didn’t know this place, and I was determined to be myself; outspoken and loud and free; I could talk to whoever I wanted to; this is one place where what haunted me couldn’t chase me. So I asked you, I recall, if I can find coffee somewhere in this place and you laughed. Out of all the rest, I just remember this first laugh. Was it my undoing? No, I wasn’t undone but I wanted to cry because I could feel life returning to something I thought had died within me. A spark, something, a reaction, some dregs of a lost magic. You see, when you love someone and they betray you, you question many things. But the worst is when you question yourself. These doubts, they circle around you, they echo again and again, they make you believe them, they make you believe in them, the lies, the reflection, the demons and the illusions. My personal thought demons, you see, I had them surrounding me when I first met you. But your laugh, your laugh broke through, just for a few seconds; clearing the mists of self-doubt and vulnerability, it broke through. How could you know? How could you expect to touch somebody this way? You can’t, how can you tell? You can’t. We don’t know how we may or may not influence people’s lives around us. And you certainly didn’t ask to do something like this, you certainly didn’t care, how could you? But you see, you did something.
After that, everyday, I had the courage to leave my bed. After that, every morning, I had the expectation of living my escape. After that, every second, I felt my power returning to me. After that, every moment, I gathered some strength, some remnants of faith I had lost along the way, the ones that were beaten out of me. After that, a new reality began to emerge, a new bravery, a new force. How could you tell you were the undoing of what I wanted to feel so badly? You couldn’t. But this story is about me, it’s about me. Your words, simple, little; your presence, silent but overwhelming; this was what I felt, this wasn’t something you intended, this wasn’t something you even knew. But drowning people grasp at straws… I had to live for something again, I had to live for someone again or I wouldn’t live at all. I wanted to feel strong so I borrowed your strength, I borrowed you for my one escape where monsters couldn’t chase me. There was no connection,there were no links, there were no bridges connecting Basel and my demons. When I was there, those 2 weeks, they were blissful. The clouds were so far away, I knew I was safe, I couldn’t see the demons, I couldn’t see the darkness, I couldn’t smell the fear, I couldn’t despair, I wouldn’t despair, I walked and walked and walked into you every morning. I needed something, I needed your illusion to keep me going; I needed it, and it kept me walking, it kept me going on.
For me, this is Basel. This is the place, these are the moments, this is the eulogy, this is the speech, this is the aftermath, these are the fallen leaves, embedded with memories of a sunlight chasing away my demons and reminding me of laughter. For me, you are Basel.