“You’re serious? You think she merely exists to infatuate you?” he asks me, as though struggling to believe that I’m being serious.
“Well, maybe not to infatuate and please me, but I’m positive that she serves some purpose in my life. She was meant to trigger something in me. What that ‘something’ is, I don’t know. But I had to encounter her.”
I take a long gulp of my drink and order another. He mulls over what I’ve said, then lights a cigarette. A lukewarm silence dawdles between us for a short while.
“One question – what is it about her that fascinates you so much?”
I take a moment to think of how to condense a response into a few sentences.
“I guess it’s just her whole… aura. Everything about her, her interests are almost entirely likewise to mine, she’s wise and insightful and possesses this uniqueness about her. Just from the little I know about her I can tell she has a beautiful mind, a beautiful soul. I just wish she were a book for me to read and to take in. Not to mention she’s quite stunning in looks.”
He stares at me intently and nods his head, then stretches towards the ashtray on the table.
He’s an old friend from high-school whom I hadn’t seen in over 9 years. We’d decided to meet up at a bar towards the eastern side of Milan as he was on a business trip for two weeks, but normally he’d be situated in London with his fiance. I wasn’t too clued up on what exactly he did, but it had something to do with Consultancy, which from time to time required him to go abroad to meet particular clients. We’d kept in touch and when he found out he had to come to Italy for business, he saw no better opportunity for us to meet in person.
“Well that’s fair enough I suppose. So you’ve met her?”
“Not quite ‘met’ as such, I saw her briefly a little while back at a library in Venice”
“You didn’t speak to her, no?”
I shake my head slowly.
There she was, standing right before me.
I came across her online blog which was filled with her writing; her opinions and thoughts and observations, primarily. She quoted many of my favourite authors and read books I had read or was yet to. She was into philosophy, abstract art, travelling, Greek mythology, theatre, history, musicians I was into such as Jimi Hendrix, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Tame Impala, Outkast, etc. She had this great, rare sense of humour, an open mind and an alluringly interesting view-point on most things. All this I analysed just from occasionally viewing her online blog. And each time I visited her blog, I found yet another thing we shared in common or discovered something new about her which would instantly provoke my interest.
And there she was.
It was the beginning of Summer, and I had managed to hitch a few days off of work, so in the spur of a moment I decided to pack a small bag and spend a weekend down in Venice. No concrete reasoning to my decision, it’s just something I felt like doing at that moment in time. I managed to do a lot of sight-seeing and treated myself to a little shopping. Nothing special. Just a few shirts and a couple novels. I stayed at a 4-star hotel and ate out at a different restaurant each night.
Sunday afternoon came, and after lunch I decided to visit the Venice Central Library. And that’s where I saw her. Unmistakably my eyes definitely beheld her right in front of me. She looked even more attractive in person. I froze for a while, speechless and rather astonished.
She’s stood by a bookshelf, skimming through the blurb of a Khaled Hosseini novel, and she walks off with the book, apparently intrigued enough to sit down with it. She’s wearing a simple sleeveless Summer dress and is barefoot. Her long legs stretch gorgeously as I watch her walk and take her seat beside a window in a quiet corner. There’s a small desk beside her with flip-flops next to it. A sunhat matching her dress rests atop the desk.
I begin to think of her blog, and of how we share so many interests, and about how beautiful and eccentric her mind must be. Just merely glancing at her triggers a desire to get entirely and perfectly intimate with her. I get the urge to want to explore her mind and being. She perplexes me to the point where my brain starts to question whether she is real or not. How could a person be so appealing and enthralling? I feel like she’s here for a reason, as though I came to Venice for this very moment. I am convinced she carries part of my destiny, she holds a piece of me which was long lost and forgotten, or rather, maybe, a piece of me which is key for self-fulfillment.
I watch her for a moment. This moment can not be measured by conventional time span. This is the type of moment which is unconstrained by time and minutes and seconds. A moment taken out of the spectrum of time for sole purpose. I am taken aback by her beauty. Her face is so pure and her every movement graceful. Jet black hair streams down past her hips. Her hair is lavish, like a black river Nile flowing down her back from her head.
She sits there and begins to read her book. I simply watch her and feed my infatuation. She holds the book with her left hand while her right slowly lingers gently around her face, tracing undepictable shapes and characters, eventually reaching her ear and she starts toying with her earlobe and rubbing it smoothly.This time-immune moment endures, and the atmosphere feels light. The library is strangely quiet considering the number of folk present.
“Do you regret not striking up a conversation with her? Or at least exchanging greetings? I’d be pretty bummed if I saw the girl I found astoundingly perfect sitting right in front of me and I didn’t even say a word to her.”
“I don’t regret it as such. There’s no point in me regretting. I wanted to speak to her, I wanted to hear all she had to say. Everything. I’ve seen glimpses of the contents of her mind on her online blog, but that’s just snippets, brief fragments. But a conversation… A conversation with her would have been extremely adventurous and entrancing. It would have been out-worldly, and spellbinding. Her mind must be filled with amazing thoughts. Maybe even too astonishing to take in.”
“So what stopped you from speaking to her?” he asks me in a slightly firm but curious tone.
I remain silent and sip away.
“It’s not easy to explain. If I’m being honest, to be quite frank with you, I’m not altogether sure ‘why’. I asked myself the very same question, and I’ve summarised I couldn’t speak to her.”
“Yes. Right there when I was stood a few meters away from her, I was overcome by a bizarre feeling. Two re-occurring thoughts played about in my head as I contemplated approaching her and speaking to her, both are somewhat weird thoughts. You might not even believe me.”
“Try me.” he says.
“Well… there more I marveled at her and thought about how immensely intriguing I found her whole persona, the less I believed she was real. Or at least, the less I believed she was really there in front of me. I mean what are the odds; I’d just seen her online blog and took interest in her, I take a weekend out in Venice, and of all the people in the world, there she is. I’m not even really sure she lives in Italy. Her blog’s all in English. Til this day I’m in two minds as to whether she was even there or not. Maybe she was just an extension of my deep-seated infatuation with her, an intangible figment of my imagination. Some trickery of the mind.”
He stares at me but remains silent, deeply pondering what I had said. It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. I don’t expect him to believe me or even take me seriously. I put my drink aside in hope that he takes me that much more seriously. This undoubtedly sounds like nonsense coming from my mouth regardless of whether I am drunk, tipsy or sober.
“That was the first thought that kept circling in my head.” I continue.
“The second is probably even stranger. You decide. But anyhow, the other thought in my head at the time was that maybe I couldn’t have a conversation with her. Perhaps her mind and thoughts were too amazing and overwhelming. I thought maybe her words would be so overpowering and profound that it would be too much for me to take.”
“So you’re saying she couldn’t have a conversation with anyone because her thoughts are too complex and amazing?”
“No, it’s not that. See, this is what I meant by it’s difficult to explain.” I adjust my position and try to piece my explanation together. And at that, he lights another and takes a single sip at his white wine.
“I’m not saying that she can’t have conversations with people because her mind is too amazing – but it’s different with me from how I see it. I don’t know her personally, of course, but I’ve been through her online blog plenty times. I’ve imagined speaking to her many a time. But at that moment in the library when I saw her, I felt I couldn’t speak to her.
See, when people talk, there’s only so much depth of meaning between speaker and listener; words can be just words in a conversation. Two people can toss sentences between each other with no meaning, with no depth. And also on the other hand, two people can talk with great depth and meaning. As they talk there’s an intense, deep-rooted connection between the two speakers, a force of meaning which stretches beyond just merely hearing and understanding what the other speaker is saying. But as though their very souls are connecting through conversation.
“But with me and her, I feel that there can be too much meaning and depth. I felt as if if I had spoken to her, our souls would have connected so intensely that it’d turn something beautiful such as two souls connecting through conversation into something complex and difficult to grasp. I thought her mind was too impressive and appealing to me that a conversation would only leave me speechless, and it wouldn’t have been much of a conversation.”
He says nothing.
“It’s not easy to communicate to someone who doesn’t see her the same way I view her. She’s not just a mere human-being who shares some interests with me, she’s a master-piece, she IS abstract art to me. It reminds me of this quote I came across not long ago about a flower. It goes ‘If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up, it dies and ceases to be what you love’ or something along those lines. I’m not entirely sure how this connects, but, I think proceeding to have a conversation would have caused more damage than simply admiring her from a distance.”
“I think that’s just an excuse” he says, taking another sip at his wine.
I don’t respond to this.
“I think I understand what you’re trying to say, but I’m no where near understanding how you must have felt. I guess it’s one of those things you’ll never be able to communicate fully to another person.”
“I guess you’re right” I say.