city fairy lights

Some people are into watching birds. Or people, plants, maybe dogs; whatever. Personally, I enjoy watching buildings.

Yeah, it’s kind of weird. Got it. But you can be a hundred percent sure that I’m really fun at parties.

Do you know that imposing, continuously flashing urban landscape? So. During insomnious nights (or maybe for any other reason as simple as not having anything better to do), I do enjoy spending my time watching the dark silhouette of these things; hundreds of meters of mortar, concrete and sweat that don’t fall onto our heads for any unthinkable miracle of Engineering.

To be honest I don’t really like watching buildings themselves, in all their urban glory. What fascinates me the most are the flickering little lights that escape from their windows and travel at almost three hundred thousand kilometers per second just to arrive in mine, as lonely as it is. It’s funny. Hundreds of years ago our ancestors would gaze at the stars; now a days we gaze at illuminated windows which can make the sky turn into darkness. Almost the same! Maybe it’s madness, maybe loneliness, but for me the admiration remains the same.

At the beginning they used to be nothing but lights, you know? Just a bunch of trembling white dots in the sky, shiny stacks within the night. Nevertheless on a beautiful day of sleep deprivation and procrastination, it came to me. A penny the size of a cartoon piano has dropped, a life-saving epiphany that changed the way I’d see my own window view:

These ain’t lights.

These are people.

Not literally, right. Metaphorically speaking. Lights don’t get to be turned on by themselves — if I see a clarity dot a thousand miles away from me, that’s because some else has turned the switch. A mother suffering from insomnia, a desperate college student trying to finish a project due the next day, a child who’s afraid of the dark; each one of these pretty beams are human beings living their own lives, their own problems, their own love stories. These are entire lives going unnoticed since they’re too far away to make any great difference on my own.

And well, this concept is pretty scaring if we stop for a minute. How many times have I admired a lone window fairy light without even knowing something bad could have been going on there? I’m wasting my time watching stories I am never really going to hear, because from up here it’s just another dot in the landscape but from there it could easily be an argument, a crying, a cheating. May be the witness of a crime I’m too far away from to actually care of, may be involved in tragedies that won’t ever going to make me cry. Quite the opposite! They rock me to sleep and make me wander into distant and unexpected thoughts. Just like this very one narrated here, have to admit.

The reciprocal is also true, though. Isn’t it? There must be someone living in the next neighbourhood who doesn’t see me as me. One may see me as the third bright square of the eleventh floor of a construction squeezed in the middle of tight streets, competing for its space between a dozen other buildings that insist to poke the sky. It doesn’t matter what I do, what I say, what I love; for some people I’ll always be just another a dot on the horizon. It’s pretty easy to be a little dot on the horizon of a metropolis, scrambled with the others, a speckle of light in a Van Gogh’s masterpiece. The main star of a diary play whose own spectators aren’t ever going to see.


Maybe this is nothing but madness. Maybe it’s loneliness. Maybe there’s no explanation at all, and we all just got to deal with it. Whichever is the reason that makes me love these little lights so much, I’m still to find out.

But being honest? Truly honest?

Hope this day never comes, because the odds of a rational and plausible explanation ruining the magic are pretty high.

originally in portuguese @ sem pauta