Time runs fast. It seems somebody restless and disheveled—somebody mad—is chasing it.

I remember this spring so clearly, all the hope and relief I felt. What happened next? Where have all the summer moments gone? On a hot day, I dived into the lake, but when I came to the surface, all I could see were bare branches and falling leaves. A blast of wind blew all the leaves from the trees in a couple of minutes.

I moved to another city a few years ago. Now I live far from my friends. One needs to be strong and confident to let the past go, to love new people. I’m stuck in the past. I miss these years, I miss my friends. We lived close by and walked the same streets together. We were like mirrors to each other.

I rarely visit the town I spent so much time in. The house of cards, which I built so carefully, vanished so fast. A revolt of time. I can’t recognize the streets anymore, and sometimes I get lost. Only the people I loved, who still live there, keep me from becoming a complete stranger.

When I meet my old friends, when finally there’s no one around us, I suddenly see very clearly the changes that happened inside of us, the transformations, the quiet and subtle movements of the tectonic plates within ourselves. New moles. New jobs. New goals. Everything seems to be almost the same.

I’m afraid I got lost somewhere while others are moving forward.

My homeland is stuck in between places. It is in the place I’ve lost. It’s in the place I haven’t found yet. My homeland is my loved ones, my friends, who live in forgotten alleys and wrap themselves up in memories. The tighter I embrace them, the more furious my loneliness becomes, tearing at me like a wild beast.

There’s no use trying to hold what can’t be held. No one can avoid changes and losses. But I want to save what can be saved. All I can do is confess my love: to the place that existed just a little while ago, to the people that used to be so close and, in spite of time and space, will always stay with me like a secret under my heart.

They say there are no irreplaceable people. It is not true. I believe—I know—that they exist.

—Kate Smuraga

If you enjoyed this article, we’d also recommend these previous features: The Milky Way, a poetic investigation about the time between adulthood and adolescence; In This Beautiful Bubble, images from a carefully manicured neighborhood in Southern California; and Arkhai: The Intimate Secrets of Adolescence, nostalgic portraits of two young friends.