Giovanni’s City

When I felt down, I’d call Giovanni, my architect friend, and ask him to walk me around the city and talk about the buildings. Like a gardener who lives their life with plants, Giovanni lived structure and at the heart of it was his visceral love of form.

“A building’s edges against the sky makes my body vibrate, like jumping into a cold lake.” His Italian accent hung from his french consonants.

Lacunar, a paneled ceiling. Apse, the polygonal end of a chapel. Gable, the triangular portion of the wall under a roof. Lunette, a half-moon shaped space.

We walked along the Canal St. Martin and turned down the Rue des Récollets towards Gare de l’est.

Portico, Pelmet, Plinth. Spandrel, Spire, Tracery.

My mood began to lift with each of Giovanni’s descriptions, brought back to life by the peculiar way language, when spoken with great attention, takes us beyond itself, into the world of stone and steel, into the city I lived but never really saw.