When I went back it wasn't so much that everything had changed radically but that the radical changes that were brewing -- boiling over, in fact -- when I left had burst open and were beginning to saturate what was in its path. Everyone had been sucked into the vortex. My cousin, a few years my junior, told me that toward the end he was carrying a pistol, which meant when he was about twelve. My grandmother talked about experiencing "war psychosis", a word in vogue in that society to explain what people were feeling.
Though I had just turned sixteen I could sense the elation that emanated from suddenly seeing all paths open, all dreams possibly realized. The sensuality of the city had not been dampened -- it never would be. Only that now it took new forms, like the shape of a trim young man with a beard and long hair and army fatigues behind the wheel of a sports car. The hipsterism of a revolution. No wonder the girls of the city wanted to sleep with these guys.
The commerce in the city was the same. The shops that would all disappear were still open. The center was many years from becoming a ghost town. The palaces from becoming ruins. But that very excitement of openness and change carried an undercurrent of anxiety. Dreams could be realized, yes, but what dreams may come.
I left. Or rather my parents decided it was time to leave. Again. We were not staying. We were going back after coming back. We crossed the water once again, my parents for the last time.
Change comes. People flee. It's always been like that. We are nomads in spite of ourselves. We go. We come back. We go again. We never come back. It never comes back. An island may remain eternal after we are all gone. It may repeat itself. But a city is not eternal. Its people leave, and when they come back they find the city too has left.