I wasn’t ready for you coming... and even less for you going.
It was November when I first looked into your eyes, at the coffee shop where I was doing hours. You came in and just sat down by a table… you didn’t realize you were expected go over to the counter and place your order. Or you didn’t care. Maybe you weren’t even planning to buy anything when you stepped in.
My colleague, a square, slightly fierce mother of four, finally marched over to your table and informed you, a bit haughty and patronizing, that you had to order at the counter. Still looking at your cell phone you sauntered over and – after having stood there immovable for so long that my colleague had already inhaled to, now definitely fierce, haughty and patronizing, urge you to order or leave the premises – with the blink of an eye took in the limited selection of cookies, pies and loaves of French bread.
”A piece of pineapple pie and a coffee, please.”
I was the one bringing the coffee and the pie to your table. I was gazing at the snow falling outside, wishing I was somewhere else, like Florida or the Caribbean, while I put the cup of coffee and the plate with the pie on the table in front of you. Quite unexpectedly you looked up at me, our eyes met… and the rest of the world disappeared.
I don’t know if it disappeared to you too. Probably not entirely, because then you would still be here, wouldn’t you? But partly, I’m pretty sure. Because it wasn’t just me that froze there, like paralyzed in a thought, but you as well. I noticed how you, like me, were caught off your guard, were free falling through mental space. But you composed yourself before I did:
I don’t recall how I managed to return to my place behind the counter, suddenly I just was there... and still, ninety-nine percent of my conscience was left with you, refused to leave. Although I did everything to put my mind to the order of 50 pies that would have to be prepared during the afternoon, or what I should get for my aunt’s birthday, or even the snow that kept falling, my whole inner focus was on your gaze, that had met mine. There was an invisible thread between us, growing stronger each moment.
You were standing outside the book store next door waiting when I left work. As if in slow motion, I walked the twelve steps over to you. Your trench-coat protected you against the wind and the flames in your eyes warmed me.
”Never before” you said in your strangely dark blond voice.
”Me neither” I breathed.
You told me you were in town temporarily, you had rented a room in a boarding house for a month. When that month had gone you paid for another month. After that, you stayed with me.
You did research for a book, you said. And I thought, yes, there is much to write about in this town, with its long and many-colored history.
”You’re a part of this town, that I wanna write about” you said, and you made me grow, become significant. I would be a part of your book, I thought, and smiled at the idea. I started to wonder how you would describe me, and what part in the story I would get.
Soon we started to explore each other’s bodies. We were both unaccustomed to it. In that sense, and only in that, we were equal.
|The Blue Lady, acrylic by Andy Lord|
The coldest period, in late January and early February, was the best time. I went to work, and when I came home you were there. We kept each other warm in my drafty apartment. You cooked, mostly various soups, and we ate it from steaming bowls. Then we made love, over and over again.
During the weekends we walked out to the lake and looked at the mountain. You were fascinated by it, and I, who had seen it ever since I was little, learned to really appreciate it. And we hid from the wind behind the big tree; the tree with its very special outgrowth in the middle of the trunk. The pregnant tree, you called it, and we hugged it, bit by bit in a ritual movement until we had done a full lap around it.
It was so painfully easy to get used to having you there, in my apartment, in my life. It was as if you had always been there, and therefore would always remain. But it wasn’t to be.
When the sun rays of spring started to warm the ground, the houses, the people, you became restless. You stopped, gradually, to eagerly tell me about your latest idea for the book. And when I asked about it you got at first uncertain and your eyes got shifty, then you became avoiding, and then irritated.
So I stopped asking. I cooked – your soups vanished with the winter – and we ate in silence. I watched TV, you were busy with your cell phone. Sometimes you smiled looking at it, and I wondered who you were smiling at.
At the same time you could be just as loving as before, and just as hot and wonderful between my sheets. And sometimes you would say things like: “Let’s go to Italy this summer! Or Spain! We could sit at the streetside cafes by the beach, drinking coffee. Or stand on the hotel balcony watching the sun set.” And I believed you, and looked forward to our journey.
Or: ”We could open a culture cafe together. You make the food, I arrange interesting lectures and exhibitions. It will be a great success!” And I could see that cafe before me, crammed with enthusiastic, dedicated guests.
Then you entered the coffee shop that Wednesday, just before closing time. You hadn’t been there since that first day, so I immediately wondered why you came. Then I noticed you were carrying your suitcase. I was petrified while my colleague walked over to your table – obviously not recognizing you. I heard, with a strange echo, how she informed you that you should go to the counter to place your order. I couldn’t hear your reply but she returned and looked at me with a blank expression:
”The customer wants to speak to you.”
My legs barely took me over to the table, and when I got there I just collapsed on the chair opposite yours. I realized, with blinding clarity, what was happening, that you were leaving, that what I thought would last forever, had been just a parenthesis of your life.
You looked at me and I desperately tried to drown myself in your sea weed-blue eyes. And I looked at your mouth, that had kissed mine, and every line on your lips was so familiar.
”I have to move on. I’ve had... a proposition, a contract, that looks very intriguing.”
I closed my eyes, I would have closed my ears too if it had been possible. I didn’t want to see anything, nor hear anything. I felt your fingers down my cheek, gently touching my earlobe, wiping away a tear that obviously fell from my eye.
I lean against the comforting trunk of the tree, feel the huge, ancient body sharing its healing warmth. And on the other side of the lake, the mountain, a silent but solid pledge that there is a bigger perspective, and I’m a part of it.