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Sunlight

For years I worked on a building on Hallam Street which overlooked the corner of Duchess Street in Marylebone, London. During the summer months I would find myself sitting on the second floor, staring out of the window at the wide, bare brick wall of the corner building. The sunlight made the red bricks glow a deep reassuring orange. Vacantly, I would sit and think, engrossed by something the wall possessed, or embodied, or...what? It took me a long time to realise that the wall was unconsciously reminding me of the side of a building I had seen, drenched in sunlight in a blazing azure sky in Venice during the summer of 1989.

That year, as usual, I was in love. Everything appeared fresh and bright, especially because I was younger and more impressionable, more easily delighted by natural phenomena. As I write this, a warm September light is streaming through the slats in the venetian blind in my bedroom, leaving light and dark bands across my page. The sensation is pleasant, but once I would have been captivated by the effect. Nowadays I have seen it all before, and it fails to remind me of anything, except perhaps of a scene from Hitchcock's Spellbound. The reddish, almost glowing bricks of that wall in Hallam Street however, take me back to a time when I was, momentarily, happy and entranced. I was in awe of the city I found myself in, and of the feelings that Venice and the girl I loved had brought forth.

The sunlight is what I remember now, that beautiful colour contrast between the sky and the wall, the blue and the brick red, one open to infinity and the other cladding ancient interiors and private lives. I don't even remember where that building was, nor whether I was standing or sitting; nor, truthfully, whether this memory is real at all. Perhaps the Hallam Street wall has only triggered my belief in a previous sun-soaked building. The one wall is real, solid, a recent memory of an often-seen structure; the other is chimerical, like the hazy shifting views on a hot day long ago. It doesn't matter. Whether it was real or not, whether the girl loved me as much as I believe I loved her (or believed I loved her), none of it matters now. The walls are there, the sunlight is still streaming, still covering my arm and page in bands of light and dark, still burning my mind. The sun is still shining.