I met another one. The third in 22 years.
These people are the ones you notice in a second and then orbit the rest of your life. Always thinking you’ve finally thwarted their magnetism — floating through space, waiting for a planet with little less mass to pull you in, or perhaps a star to just burn you up — when they come crashing back into your life. Dragging you towards them. Their voice coursing through the phone like a whip, cracking at your heels.
They have an energy that makes the rest of us look half asleep. We stumble where they dart. They act like they have a grand total of 30 years to use up, and are intent on going this way and that for every one of them. Share a room with them and they will sit, stand, hop, skip, go for a cigarette, and come bounding back. They’ll exude energy as a radiator does heat; if only you could get close enough, maybe you could steal a little, maybe you could keep up. And when they sit, listening, they will veer between contemptuous boredom and fantastic passion, with flashing eyes and lips that curl, enjoying the feel of every word, even their nostrils flickering in sync.
They are always beautiful, but I’ve yet to work out whether this is cause or effect. Does their beauty allow them to embrace life, or are they beautiful because of their embrace?
They hurt people too. They can’t help it. Life is a game to them, and when you play, people lose. They will never be a good friend, are never dependable. They aren’t good people. But they are vital, pure, and unencumbered. The flashes you get of them will paint everything else silver.
They act a step outside of society, on the fringes yet in the middle of everything — uncontaminated, I suppose. We eat, drink, and take things in. Breathe to survive. These people never seem to. Like gods or demons, they give back, expelling force, as if they were the ones keeping the world turning.
Life can’t shackle them, it doesn’t stand a chance. We are bracketed by the expectation of others, fouled into action we have no taste for. We play the social games back and forth, tediously circular — guilt, omission, and overemphasis — a sick dancing act performed in court after court. They don’t. They are honest like an animal or a beast, as if their instincts govern and nothing else touches. Wonderful and dangerous, all at once.
My third was an 18 year old French girl. Her face so fresh and simple, her life exactly the same. I’d arrived in Marseille to a table laden with booze, cigarettes, and people looking for a good time. We were gearing up, topping up, and readying ourselves. She dominated despite her age, despite only knowing one of the three languages being spoken. Utterly serene yet energy flowing, desperate to get up and run, dance, move, anything.
The night was long and by 3pm the next day, after she had fucked rather than slept, again I found her there, around that table, unchanged. Wanting more, drinking in the chatter, everybody else fuzzing with too many hours awake. Not a hint of darkness below her eyes, no redness crowding her button nose, like she was made of wax and no one dare put a flame to her.
I hope these people carry on. That at 30, they are still as magnetic as ever. If we are doomed to furrowed brows, mortgages, and strife they must be our way out. Perhaps they can teach us their simplicity, learn us their freedom. Or at least we can watch.
But maybe they don’t exist. Perhaps this is me falling in love every time, too frightened of what that means. Desperate to impose an explanatory pattern, my brain flailing around for a framework in which to cage my irrational desires.
I suppose you’ll have to come find me and cut me open. Saw from front to back. It’s the only sure way to know anything, you know.