The other city gets fallen in love from a distance, like an army recruit seeking a pen friend in a sensible schoolgirl in high woollen stockings. She takes him too seriously at the beginning – like a social duty or an extra-curriculum project, first getting surprised by his zodiac in relation to hers, then searching for hidden meanings in the well-rounded vowels of the first line greetings, gazing at photos in the full uniform picturing who future babies might look like… The day comes when with bouncing heart she goes to meet him, gets a shock from the crudeness of his first seduction and rushes back to the school library where she’d shared a bench with a spotty classmate wooing her patiently with apples and stamps. One day she will see that soldier again – maybe by chance, perhaps on some business. Thinking – what could she have possibly found in him – my mistaken love – Paris.
Or, fearing disappointment in losing virginity she will never meet him, keeping her romantic love hidden till the day she realises – life is gone, she is a spinster and she’s never met with my unfulfilled love – St Petersburg.
The third city is a charming old Frenchman with gallant manners matured over years of courting much younger women with Slavic cheekbones. He is the Sugar-Daddy and his attempts to impress with academics and poetry are clean, a bit sad, naïve and flattering are reciprocal… in a way – my platonic cute charm – Grenoble.
The fourth one pulls all the sensitive strings, he is big attraction and passion and … married to somebody else. In the tremulant shame there’s no more I can tell, since those who’ve shared it will well understand my guilty secret – Glasgow.
The fifth is my toy boy, my comfort and flirt. We can spend weekends away together, have fabulous time, with no guilt attached. I love him dearly, but he’s just a friend. Why? He is gay – my Bruges.
The sixth is My London. My Bona Fide Love.