Oct 26, 2010

All You Need to Know

I found myself telling a story, consumed by the generalities of narrative and the urge to make universal by way of flatness. There’s the generality, which wants to be something to everyone, but not very much, and the specificity, which is a thousand times more ecstatic, bound up in memory, and quivering with alive but in conversation gives us back blank faces, downcast eyes. Caught in the generality and suddenly wondering where the wonder has gone. This is a vision and a revision, a memory of arbitrary specifics, a dream you are sharing with a will behind it.

We met and began to fall in love in Spain, in Granada, the city that no one wants to leave but I had to leave on a 3am bus still a bit high, a bit drunk. I had to meet her in the north, in Bilbao after university finished a few weeks later. She somehow found me at the airport though maybe we barely remembered each other. She’d found a pension to stay at. The room was large and all white, with dark wood furniture and a balcony over a small old street. We didn’t know how to know each other. We didn’t know how to make love to each other. I barely knew how to make love. We spoke, faltering. We made love. We made love for days. I don’t remember how many. We’d leave only to go for walks, sometimes not until evening. We drank wine and ate olives on the small balcony. We began the slow process of knowing each other. We began to learn the words that the other used. Our two languages fought, though sparingly, joking, not knowing how serious a problem their inability to communicate would become. We couldn’t know how little we understood of the other. We visited the famous museum, through curved shining forms, through dulled rusted tunnels. We walked over many bridges, talking, listening, trying to hear. We made love many times a day in that white room. I was deliriously in love, so much that memory falters. A black man, there are few in Spain, sang old American songs down on the street. We played a game of believing he sang to us. We left the curtains open, the windows open all night. It was June. Late one morning the woman at a higher window across the street, working in a carpet shop, must have seen us making love. We hoped that she watched for a while. We hoped it was beautiful because we believed ourselves to be beautiful. We believed ourselves to be beautiful because we were in love and delirious, drunk on ourselves, the way we should be when we fall in love. Exactly as we should be, innocent as we should be and are, completely naive and raw for life. A touch of cynicism could have killed us, a bare mention of a steeled rational plot, but none came for us.

I fell in love in Spain, gorgeously, without hesitation, and did not look back. When she left down the Metro stairs in Paris I didn’t look back. I’d played Bruce Springsteen to her on the way to Paris to try and get her to stay. I couldn’t understand that her French mind didn’t know what to make of the lyrics that saved me. I spent days wandering the streets of that museum-city, sometimes visiting museums. I don’t know what I ate. I don’t know what I did, except walk and read, sometimes write, but I don’t know what I wrote; there’s a journal now with little in it. I sat by the Seine and watched Parisians. I drank beer, or wine, I don’t know. I paid too much to keep our double room because we’d danced there crying before she left. The owner spoke no English anyway. He asked where she’d gone. Elle voyager, a few words I could remember. I lay in bed all day in the heat, sweating into sheets, taking a shower when it was too much. I watched the apartment next door have a dinner party through multiple windows. I watched some of the World Cup games in French, or the news channels without understanding at all. How many days? I don’t know. I’ve never figured it out. A week? It seems impossible. What I remember as one day in the room could have been three, or more. I didn’t talk to anyone. I found an internet cafe down the street and wrote to her a few times. Eventually I bought a plane ticket to Berlin and that moment ended.

When we met again we were far from Spain, far from falling in love. In love but uncertain, knowing nothing of each other but our love. We began again.

P.S. - I've left out the Chinese restaurant, the beach and her beauty along the rocks, the endless hunk of cheese bought at a market and carried for days, the tapas of San Sebastian, my absolute shyness at trying to speak Spanish, the restaurant in Guerncia thinking about Picasso and Franco's bombs, these and thousands of other things...but you aren't supposed to know that.