“This city can be known only by an activity of an ethnographic kind: you must orient yourself in it not by book, by address, but by walking, by sight, by habit, by experience;” – Roland Barthes, “No Address,” Empire of Signs

Landmarks made so by others and landmarks you make so. Landmark by facade. By bright ornate things. By default.

Famous structures may serve as landmarks. Externally, the Statue of Liberty. Internally, Chauvet Cave. Point to nowhere but their own space. This city is known.

Landmarks that point to their own space and to another. Abandoned and run-down stations or buildings. Resemble another in another city, but not within the same vicinity.

Familiar to me my lover’s face. What was it back then when we met? New face, new map – foreign without a purpose or plan. Or a starting point and an end. Take me to where you are. Show me the symbols and signs, and I’m willing to go there. Don’t spell. Don’t speak. Trace your finger over the lines. Better yet, highlight them in bright orange or yellow, or any other color as long as it stands out and calls to me.

Landmark by facade, by trick of eye, by natural lighting.

I concentrate on his face looking back at me, and now I can close my eyes, feel for his hair, draw him to my body.

Begin at this landmark, and begin here again the next time you want to travel this particular route to get to this particular destination. Familiarity alone will arouse a sense of confidence, based on the success of your previous trip. However, familiarity can also backfire, creating automatic behavior, lacking excitement or spontaneity.

So I repeat – in the repeated encounter with that familiar face – you are so handsome, and when I close my eyes again, I feel it a reality.

One landmark can serve as a landmark for finding another landmark, especially when one is across the street from the other. Begin at the empty, used-to-be law office on the corner in the square, that will soon be a sandwich stop, one in a chain across the nation. Across the street on the opposite corner is the used-to-be opera house, now famous bookstore you frequent

because masked in memory is the fact that that this building used to house opera singers, even though most of the time you do not find the book you are looking for. You find other things related to the thing you were looking for, like other valued authors and theoreticians. You take these things home and then you return, because now you are drawn to these things related to the original things you so desired.

Landmark by relation.

Maybe you return by the same route, or maybe by a similar one that you know somehow will take you there.

Let me explain what I mean by “somehow.”

That’s not what I meant. Not really. When I told you my dream about my dead living mother first thing when we woke up this morning, I wasn’t saying that I think of her often. In fact, I ought to ask for forgiveness from someone somewhere for not thinking about her at all this past year, and probably the year before.

She was thin and young and I told her so, and then I asked her why she left me. She asked me to forgive her. She lived another life that didn’t include me.

I changed the subject. You tell me that’s what I always do. I do. I do. But I always return. If not today, then tomorrow morning. If not in a dream, then in a story.

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