A couple of hours, tops

21 February 2015

This is a story from a couple of years ago. I don’t quite remember the day or month, and it isn’t particularly relevant. There were a lot of people around the house, and even that isn’t particularly relevant. She was there. In the beginning, just as a lot of other people were there. But we got to talking. We talked small, in a small group, as you do. Probably over a couple of cheap, half liter beers. But she mentions she keeps an diary. An art diary, in particular. I ask her if I might have a look at it, but she’s not keen, and she’s sending me signals that she’s really not keen. I make my first mistake of the evening by insisting.

It’s a very nice diary, filled with watercolor, sketches, portraits, and a few short lines in a language I don’t speak. It’s very impressive, and speaks volumes. It moves me to make my second mistake of the evening. There’s a tiny doodle of two grassy hills, and a few flowers. The whole thing is a couple of square centimeters. And I call her out on it. I tell her exactly where she was when she drew it, not only which park, but exactly where she was sitting and which direction she was facing. And I shouldn’t have told her that, because there’s no way I could have known that. This is a city of millions, it’s huge. But I knew. And she knows that I couldn’t have known that. Today, I still don’t know how I could have known. But I did. And it changed everything.

Suddenly, we are not talking small anymore. We’re talking big. People drift into our conversation, and quickly drift out again. Nobody speaks our language anymore, but we’re perfectly intelligible to each other. It could have been confusing and extraordinary, but at that time it seemed to make perfect sense. We understood each other perfectly clear, and we were only occupied with what was outside our mutual understanding. It was as if we were lifted clear off the ground, and looking down on the everything from afar. As if this was how things normally are. And weirdly enough, that was all it was, a simple togetherness. And nothing else. But nothing external seemed to matter either.

We drank more beer, moved outside to smoke, because that’s what you do, and it suddenly was 4 in the morning, and I vaguely remember I had to get go to work in a couple of hours, because that is what happens. I made a half hearted attempt to get her to stay, as if both of us are control of what happens, but we both agreed there and then that everything comes to an end.