Notes on the end of summer and my slow, sleepy neighbourhood.

August, and the grass lining the sidewalks is dry and flattened underneath the sun. Everything else seems to droop under her stare, or else evaporate. The next block over, the apartment building goes all the way to the edge of the block. It hovers over the pedestrians, as if it, too, suffers in the heat. There’s a tiny Greek restaurant that has been open since the 80s with FOR LEASE signs pasted over the windows. Patio tables without umbrellas line the streets, cars standing for miles behind them.

I like to go walking once the sun hits its peak. By then, the neighbours have disappeared to escape the burning rays and I have everything to myself. I treat it as a lunch break from my tiring day of work, eight hours, 9-to-5 melancholy and my hands feeling my ribs, each individual bone spread out and my fingers interlocking with them.

Would you rather stand on one side of the the border, or else the other? Once you step over, there’s no going back.

Two women walk slowly towards me as I slope uphill. They both look older in appearance, with bleach-white hair and soft wrinkles in their tanned skin, liver spots dotting the backs of their hands, but it is clear one is a mother and one is a daughter, or perhaps two dear friends with a rich history despite the age gap. The younger one is taller, hair piled up like a wasp’s nest at the crown of her head. Her dress flows to her ankles, with a bright print of a woman with red lips and long lashes winking at me from the folds of the fabric. The woman seems to emulate the print, lips a matching shade of crimson and pearl earrings dangling from her lobes. Her polished nails clutch her mother’s arm, leading her as they shuffle along.

The older woman, hunched severely, gravity pulling at her shoulders, has a spiky haircut that seems to harshen her appearance. Her blouse is pink and the fabric plaits cheaply down her torso. She seems to be passively allowing the daughter to guide her, and a cigarette dangles from her fingers. She lifts it to take a long drag, lips crinkling over the filter, and the daughter averts her eyes, looking down towards the gutter in the street. My own joint burns between my fingers, and I inhale along with her, our smoke clouding the sidewalk.

I think of my own mother, visiting in April, and how she notices everything is closer here. “There’s less space,” she says, walking next to me. “Smaller, and yet more.” My mother is in love with the endless skies of our hometown, of the expanse, the freeness of it. The lengths of the horizon speak in uninterruptions—one after the other.

The thing is I long for that closeness. I want to feel suffocated. My cure for loneliness is togetherness; the overlap, the boundaries marring, or else disappearing—straddling the borders, one foot on either side, two places at once. What they forget to say when you are diagnosed with depression is that you will feel apart from everything. You are depressed because you are lonely; you are lonely because you are depressed. At least between a rock and a hard place you are held by something.

I want to be held like that—I want, in no uncertain terms, the effort. It takes deliberation to care for (to carry for) someone else. I want to be the choice.

As I walk, further and further, prolonging the point of turning back, trees grow taller around me. Or maybe I’m imagining things. The sun is green spotlights above me, never reaching my face, but I feel the heat, the thickness of it. Wind whistles through the branches, singing softly. Listening is easy like this. I don’t have to say anything in return—the language of the trees is not something spoken aloud.

On the way back to my apartment, I pass through the sidewalk garden my neighbour tends to. White roses, black-eyed susans, pink-red poppies, indigo cornflowers, raspberries, lettuce, beans, tomatoes. The flowers stretch tall, bending into the street, waving down at me. It’s like walking through a jungle, and I wonder how it’s possible for anything here to grow in such proximity; if the plants know where they are growing and understand intimacy is the way of life, here, everything touching everything. I stab the butt of my joint against the stone wall at the steps of my home, and turn to look at the squash plant that has wound its way out of the raised bed, curling along the boulevard. I can see the fruit hiding underneath the fat leaves. All summer it waits, ripe and heavy against the dirt, the world swelling around it, until someone comes with open arms and a hungry belly, picking it from below, ready to take a bite.