There is something darkly appealing about being almost entirely un-tied to the world, about moving through a place untouched by any soul who’s ever known your name. Falling away from the world reveals by omission just how loud and large is the role of love in our lives.
Loud and so large is the role of love in our lives.
You and I sat side by side, not touching, not speaking, just being, right there on the broken, half-buried pieces of a civil war bunker that sat, protective and hiding, far above the city. And what I remember most are the colors of that night. In our silence and our slowness, we watched the evening fade to night. We watched the brown, bright evening fade to orange and red and then to a deep purple, singing, open night. The city sparkled below. And you sat by my side, silently. I felt safe and I felt the world unfolding before me and above me. And I cried. Because of what I was seeing and because I was so immeasurably grateful to you and to your honest heart. So I sat there in our perfect, raw silence and I cried. I wouldn’t let you see, though, because I thought that if you did, it would ruin that perfect, raw, silent, golden moment we had built.
Do you remember?
When I met you I was crushingly alone, and I’m almost sure I liked it that way but it’s kind of hard to tell. I was floating in a foreign place, watching the world happen around me, fading but open and so aware.
When I met you my hair was long and dirty and there were red feathers in it. I didn’t have any clothes. I wore a dark red scarf tied around my waist for a skirt. The room where I slept was bright green and the other girls would ask me “but you’re traveling all this way alone? Are you scared?”
When I met you it was early July in Barcelona and the world was beautiful, but no one had spoken my name in so long and I thought maybe I would forget it. I thought maybe everyone would forget it.
Eric, I am so grateful for you. For the way you knew my name. For the way you spoke it and for the way you showed me your world and for the way you carried me back to a reality I had fallen so far away from. And I only knew you for a single day. A few impossible hours.
In a few impossible hours your unearthed my forgotten name, you bore my heart witness, so loud and so large.
In the youngest moments of our fleeting friendship, we swam through a slow ocean of people on the Rambla. You led us to a shop. Big open windows. Black and white tiled floors. The servers behind the marble counter were reaching and turning and shouting in pace with the bustle of the place. You got a cup of ice cream and I got a diet coke and we sat there, you telling me about the time you spent in Germany and your job in a school there in Barcelona, your home, the place where everyone knew your name and the place where you wanted to stay. I told you about my studies. The odd jobs I’d worked. My travels. I didn’t even know where my home was at that time, I don’t think.
You had such a lovely, lovely smile.
Black hair, disheveled on purpose. Big, brown, open eyes. There were stripes on your tee shirt and you just had a gentle, humble air about the way you moved. I was drawn in and given pause. You were more complicated than any of the other lovely smiles and big brown eyes that I had ever known, really.
We left the ice cream shop and we walked. We wandered. Around the city, your city. You told me about the spaces you knew so well. You told me about the people you loved, and I watched the way you spoke. You know so much and you speak so well and I feel so lucky to have met you in all your color and sound, Eric.
As we walked, the sun set. I remember the brown and red of the cobbled streets and the dusty air and the low lights. We drifted through narrow alleys, red and yellow flags in the windows, laundry hung from roof to roof on wire. The alleys grew dark quickly, before the sun was really gone, engulfed by the shadows of the tall, crooked buildings. A labyrinth to me, but not to you. Home to you.
And then we left the city. Up the sandy hills. Little boys playing soccer. The smell of mariscos and coal. To the bunkers. Where we sat and breathed and where I cried for the knowing of your heart.
And that was it. The very next morning, I’d leave. I’d get up with the browns and reds of the sun and I’d catch a bus to a different country where no one, once again, would know my name. The streets, again, would be mazes of mystery, fear, fantasy. The feel of the air and the tones and the voices would shimmer and glow and jump and I wouldn’t know how to feel and I wouldn’t know where to go. So very loosely tied to this world. But so ready to move with it, to take its tones and its voices as my own.
To lose my whole self into it and to not have a self apart from it any longer, a wanderer.
But in that moment, in those impossible hours, I was there with you. I was tied to the world through you and your life and the words that we shared, and you’ve shown me this place that holds your heart and you’ve known my name and you’ve reminded me all that I have to lose when I choose to live so transiently.
You, Eric, have reminded me of all that I have to lose when I fly. Into the windy tones and voices of the world. The life of a wander wants for the solidity and the knowingness of another human heart. You made me see that. Thank you.