When you move to another continent, following a man who five months later decides that he’s just not that into you, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to find reference points in the city that do not remind you of him. All the places that you visit are those where you used to walk or dine with him. It takes time to build new reference systems, some that may one day start to resemble the feeling of a home. For that to happen, you need to get away from the city walls, into the wild nature of the Rockies and their national parks. These are times of change in your life, and this country – although it shapes you – is not your chosen one.

When you move to the country where you lived before – although not your home country either – for a job you love, choosing a city split by the Danube into two, where Einstein was once born – you get to define your own reference points. You get to choose your flat, your favorite cafés, your partners of conversations, your partners of creative crimes, and friends. You have a hard time letting go, but you do. However, you never forget how much of yourself you put out there, to the point of exhaustion, but it has always been you, your will, your choices. You were not following a chance encounter, but your own true heart.

When you walk the streets of your home town, in your home country, they carry so much history, so many memories, of so many people. Yet it is often the most recent ones that most stick onto you, like the phantom of a dying person. With your parents aging, most of these streets remind you of them. Of all those things you did together in those few weeks when you happened to come visit over the past few years. Getting a new passport with them, a new ID, going for a coffee together in this and that café, getting new glasses or new shoes, or seeing your father’s studio and his new art work. Perhaps the next time you’ll come visit, there won’t be any hand to hold, or their eyes will no longer recognize you. Maybe all their words and memories will be entangled or erased.

And maybe letting go instead of holding on will be a harder process than you could ever imagine, harder than anything you have ever done before. But in the face of all uncertainty, you can only hope that one day, when you will walk these streets alone in a not that far future, you will know that once, they were full of love.

Diana Radovan is a writer of poetry, flash fiction, and non-fiction living in Munich, Germany. Her writing has been published since 2004. She believes in the unlimited power of storytelling and the love of her two cats. She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Read more about Diana at www.dianaradovan.com.