With Eva Tucek

Starr City  

- the story of Leonard (aka Lenney) Rigby-

Optimistically seen, we all have a Starr City - that idyllic place we remember as a child.” - Anon  

I remember that night clearly, standing on the terrace of our old summer home and peering out into the distance. Behind me the light spilled out from a dinner party in the happening, our parents entertaining their usual guest list, it was a monthly occurrence with much laughter, wine and good food. I was absorbed by the Starr City flickering like a christmas tree lit with candles. It had an effect on me that was hard to explain. I found myself excited and impatient, a deep longing tugged at me and the feeling that i knew what was waiting for me was inexplicable. The sound of music behind me lent a warm atmosphere, i felt free to separate myself from the comfort. I began to walk quietly down the stairs. 

At the foot of the stairs i turned north and started making my way under the night sky, the stars were shining brightly, no clouds and there was a warm breeze. The light from the house above was dim at this distance, also the sounds, i could make out the glow of tiny little fireflies on the grass, bobbing here and there, the sounds of crickets filled the air. It felt soft, my footsteps on the wet ground, and every step made me more confident until i reached the embankment … suddenly the ground gave way and below me i couldmake out a dark chasm, exactly how steep i couldn’t say, but it was certainly not going to stop me from trying to find out. Crouching onto all fours I swung my legs over the side and started lowering slowly, pushing all my weight into my elbows and hands to keep myself from falling into the unknown. My mother would have been devastated about the muddy pants and shirt.

Down, then down a bit more, scraping the caps of my new shoes against a soft earth until i could feel a solid lump under the ball of my right foot. I brought my heel to rest on it, letting go of my hand grips on the embankment and trusting that my left foot would come to rest too, but the gods had other intentions for me right then and it seemed as though i had only found a tiny outcrop of rock along the dark ledge on which my right foot now rested precociously, if not indefinitely as i was slowly sinking as the outcrop started crumbling under my shoe. Seconds later i woke up in complete darkness with the vague impression of having been asleep for days, weeks perhaps. My head felt heavy, i got up and trying to focus my eyes in the dark I once again saw the Starr City a bit less bright through a light mist settling in the air - looking like a fireworks display. Between us lay what seemed like a field of shrubs and long grass and I could faintly distinguish single elements that looked astonishingly like periscopes growing out from the ground surveying their surroundings. What were they witness to?

I got up and absent-mindedly plunged forward in the direction of the vast shapes that arose out of the landscape, an overwhelming feeling swept me onwards… trudging at first, but soon a feeling of light footedness took hold and i was blissfuly making my way, dawn appearing on the horizon. The colours looked exquisite, better than they had from the terrace and the sensation I had felt before grew by the minute. I could smell the wet ground and the dew on the grass, the light mist floating less than a metre above what before was a dark and quiet terrain, it had taken on a new dimension with the rising sun, bustling with life as little insects hurried along and small colourful little birds zipped in and out between the shrubs. Everything around me was coming alive with movement.  

For a moment I looked down and noticed my hands, something was strange, different… they were much bigger than i had remembered, it seemed they had aged too… i was seized by a sense of fear… what had happened? I turned around to see the house I had left not hours before, but all I saw was a multitude of buildings melting into one another, it was hard to discern which one I had once called home. It felt as though my past had vanished and surprisingly, if not somewhat confused by this, I was none-the-less still driven to continue my journey and discover what was was drawing me to my pretty sanctuary. Nothing seemed more important, even the comfort I vaguely remembered seemed unnecessary, it was already so close i could see the ornate details in the structures, the colourful walls and welcoming little avenues. Somewhere close by the sound of children playing was audible, giggling and crying out to one another to ‘catch’, ‘pass here’… they were happy sounds, unconcerned. I could better decipher the shapes of the structures, stars curved up into the sky, circles formed bulbous outcrops…my mind was cranking out all sorts of possibilities, what could lie behind the monumentous walls. I imagined dining within a large living room space with concave glass walls overlooking a vast space filled with beauty.  

After what seemed a lifetime my feet found themselves on the concrete at the foot of the city. A heavy feeling in my legs as I started up the broad oversized crescent-shaped staircase… it felt as though i had been walking for decades. A sudden burst of wind swept through the streets and sand was sent up into the air in a frenzy, stinging my eyes so i could not see. The Stour lasted a few minutes, covering my eyes tightly with the sleeve of my shirt I doubled over to keep out of harms way as the strong force sent objects into the air mingling and colliding, I could hear the banging sounds as they landed against walls and glass. As quickly as it had begun it also settled and a timid feeling returned. I squinted my eyes, readjusting my focus until the stinging sensation had vanished and my eyesight had returned to normal. 

It was at this point i looked up and noticed. 

The Gigantic structures were nothing more than billboards, held up by scaffolding and half finished, thick walls that looked pristine with colour were flaking in the sunlight, mired with cracks … a tumult of feelings… at first what had felt like a cruel surprise gradually morphed into a sense of nostalgia. Touching this space, my hands had aged further more and i could feel a lifetime had passed me by in my wonderful odyssey. Intellect wanted to punish my endeavour, but … somehow… it still felt well worth the journey made. I had been freed. I now possessed a sweet understanding, and an aftertaste of a lifetime.