“And I’ll just keep talking about stuff senselessly and you can just not care.” I say this, not to debase him, not to attack, but rather to comment in my self-deprecating manner about how I keep talking, filling silences for no necessary reason.

“I care,” N says. Simply.

And with that the moment changed in no visible way. The light continued to flick on and off periodically. He continued to rock back and forth in his swing in sync with me.

It’s easy to get lost in the spring in Pittsburgh. It’s easy to get lost in the moonlight moments without heavy jackets, sitting on swings with N. The spring in Pittsburgh appears when you’re not looking when suddenly you don’t need your winter coat or hat or gloves–things that are necessary in the winter. In the winter it’s easy to forget the spring even exists. It’s easy to forget that the snow will melt and the sun will come out again. That the summer will settle in. But in the early spring, on the swings with N, it’s easy to remember all of this.

It’s easy for the moments of spring and summer to flash through my mind with such rapid succession that they rather form a feeling than any sensory experience. Badminton as the afternoon becomes evening and how they never even made fun of me for being bad. Walking in the pouring rain. The sun. The heat. The light, sweet smells that rise from the yards–the olfactory tale of the East End–as flowers bloom and die and bloom again.

It’s easy for me to get lost in N. He’s a person I never knew as well as I wanted to, and liked far more than I ought to. I wanted to be close to him, to know him rather than simply about him. Him saying to me that he cares is all it takes to send me off my balance into a fall. My back facing the ground. I remember the springs and summers in the city. I remember the winter with N–the one winter we had together–and our friends.

It’s easy to forget the worst of spring and summer. The days of ruin. The days when you create problems for yourself, when you subject your future self to deal with bad decisions you make.

I acknowledge that who I was–who we all were–in Pittsburgh is a part of who I am now, but it’s not the same person. It’s at this moment, in this space, I remember why I am going where I am, and what I am trying to do. I remember why I am trying to do it. I am trying to do it for Pittsburgh, for that stupid child that left me such a mess to deal with now, for the days of ruin and the halcyon days in the spring and summer. For N.