“You made me who I am today, Nanni. All this might as well be in my head, and in my head it stays. But I've lived and loved by your light alone. In a bus, on a busy street, in class, in a crowded concert hall, once or twice a year, whether for a man or a woman, my heart still jolts when I spot your look-alike.” — André Aciman
It is not the union, but the separation. Of that, I am convinced.
I am never more interested in the multitudes of the human heart than I am months, years after their first passing, obsessively scouring my memory for scraps and clues. Misplaced, tampered with, perhaps a little more rock’n’roll than I left them. Never untouched, but forever unmoved.
Something happens to memories examined: they turn sour for a moment as they land their blow, as I chew on them with the fervour of a starved woman longing to taste the sweetness she knows, knows will follow. It always does.
I’ve been looking my whole life for a taste half as sweet as lost love, but I never came close.
It’s the naivety of blossoming love. A devotion I would die for in any other form but know I will not find, for by the time I turn to look, it’s gone for good. And it endlessly fascinates me, ‘how we move through time, how time moves through us, how we change and keep changing and come back to the same’.
Given a chance, given a chance, given a chance.
Would they survive, given a chance. Would they snap under pressure. Precious little things, marks on their throats right there where their hearts sit, would they make it.
You and me, but also: the people in the novel on my nightstand, the ones in the songs I play on snowy days, in stories that leave me frozen in my seat long after the credits have rolled? Would the boy in the story I can’t not come back to, even after all this time, even after all I know?
In another life -or perhaps a parallel one- they’d stand a chance.
The red string would bend but not snap. I’d pay more attention to my words on that very first week, on the flight home, on the night I slept on your floor and she in your sister’s room. The following August, I would meet you where I said I would instead of pretending not to hear your ringtone in my pocket as our friends’ laughter echoed in the empty square. Fast-forward a couple of years and maybe I wouldn’t lose your number, so I’d have something to remember you by other than the knowledge that your mother named you after a composer I cannot stand and the faint memory of your arm around my stomach, the boat rocking us and your brother calling from the shore. That night in the bar painted red and gold, we would speak of something other than that one author you don’t like and oranges in summertime. Two years later, I would walk back out to the smoking area just in time to catch you leaving, and wouldn't spend the journey home crying on the N8 thinking, how the hell did I let it get this far. That same summer, I wouldn’t chicken out before the clock rang 4AM, or lie to everybody’s face the following morning. Six months later, I would say yes to Paris. I would, I would, I would.
The revelation is in the separation, you see.
Multitudes of the human heart, forever unmoved. But never, never the same.
“Our star life, yours with mine. As someone said over dinner once, each of us is given at least nine versions of our lives, some we guzzle, others we take tiny, timid sips from, and some our lips never touch.”