It was hard to imagine, that night when we sat alone on an empty park bench, that being free like the wind could ever feel so constrictive. That this ardent desire to communicate could someday overwhelm and take over the need to be apart. That taking on new challenges could actually break us. That being miserable would spin not from inaction but from constant, unchanging pressures of trying to adjust to something that made no sense whatsoever, something unwilling to compromise, something that clung to our necks until we stopped breathing and then some more.
But the weirdness erupted from a different note, years later, when we were past the age where we could sit around on a park bench and joke about the funny things we’d done. When we could talk about a time in which that could feel like too much, too soon and too ugly. Because after seeing so many horrors since then, what we had left behind felt like it had a poetic charm to it. Like it was all sepia, songs and dreaming.
I remembered the night I had first met you. Not every day could be that special. Not everyday is about innocuous glances, everlasting smiles and an instant connection across a room full of the sharpest, wittiest, intellectually challenging people I was ever likely to meet. But you stood out. Maybe because you seemed so nineteenth-century, standing there in coattails as if you didn’t care. Like the world was a stage indeed and you; you had been brought into it to make a mockery of it. You stood with your head angled against the ostentatious glare that came from overly-decorated chandeliers. You stood with a slight upward-turned smile on your face. As though it didn’t matter what they thought. As though you knew I would seek you out.
And I did. I couldn’t have helped it; I wouldn’t even have known.
We were like two lovers swimming in a pool of wine, dancing just beyond the spiralling reaches of the moonlight. In you, I saw the adventure I sought from life. Never a dull moment, never fading to just black and white. Like spilling of the colours of a rainbow, mixed wth the intricate excitement of anticipating what was next, I let you guide me.
And when it got too much, you just let me dance away on my own.
But years later when we met, the first question on my lips was, ‘When did we go from being complete strangers to being two people who complete each other so well that even if all these years could stretch out and try to strangle what we’ve built, it would only feel as though I’d been away from you for not more than a day?’
And in the whispered sighs and declarations that followed, I saw clearly the first time under the bridge, with moonlight highlighting my tresses and bouncing off your grey-black sweater, you had leaned forward and told me, ‘Everything you see from this point forth will be a dream. It will be breathtaking, spectacular. It will be so crazy that you will have to believe it to be true because something so phenomenal cannot possibly be imagined, it can only be lived. And whether or not I am in it, you will find that the remnants of that dream will stay with you forever. Whether or not you choose to believe in a fairy-tale, you will find that that fairy-tale will live inside you forever. No matter how old you grow, this sensation will never leave you. This tingling, this longing to create, to feel, to live, to breathe, to be bathed in something so much bigger than just you or me or us that it will feel like divinity itself has come down to grace you with its presence. It will feel as though the Gods of Heaven and Hell are cheering you on. It will feel as if you control every bit of movement and action of the universe.’
And when you disappeared, it did.
And when you came back, I knew. There was brilliance shining in your eyes and its reflection was making me brighter.