We met on the same place as four years ago. It’s a different life now, but it doesn’t matter because we are reliving the past. You smiled, put your arm around me – for some reason we’re still so used to each other. You smile, I smile, you talk, I talk – we talk. You pour me a drink – the same, but with a cruel twist of time and topped up with double meanings.
She walks in and you go back to her. You smile, she smiles, you put your arm around her – for some reason I’m surprised how well you know each other. You talk, she talks, she smiles again. I finish the drink and leave our history in the past. I go back to being myself, and you just went back to being the stranger I once knew.
The future is what will happen in the time after the present, which consequently means, we’re never really in the future. However, its arrival is inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the apparent nature of reality and the unavoidability of the future (by then not being the future, but referred to as the present), everything that currently exists and will exist can be categorised as either permanent, or temporary. We all are temporary, we know we are born – we know we will die. Therefore, the future haunts us; whilst at the same time fascinates us even more. So we try to grasp it, before it slips through our fingers into the present, down to the past. We dream, we fantasise, we schedule, we make plans. We fill in the time before it has even happened. We desire the ability to grasp a possible knowledge of what may come, instead of to let come whatever may.
This desire in itself is, at least to my opinion, extremely interesting, since it doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about the future. Instead, our desires come to light even when we evidently want to hide them.
The coffee reader was there to tell me everything I was hiding from myself. She lifted my cup from the saucer and asked me to think about my deepest wish. I was quiet, as I couldn’t think of anything to wish for. So she started telling me about the now, the past, and the future – but all the while all I could think about was the inability to come up with a wish. Whilst at the same time, feeling completely tranquil in this lack of desire. When was it that I became this content? The coffee wouldn’t speak up about that, nor did I want to raise the question out loud. It might even be a question not worth asking at all. All the coffee reader could do was continue a story. She sketched me a possible, lovely, future: a house, a man, a job, and a child. But most of all, I would be happy – and indeed I am.
Just briefly it felt like spring. Was it due to the sudden rise of temperature? Was it because the sun finally won the battle against those boring light-grey clouds of winter? Or was it Valentine’s Day – Did it feel like spring because butterflies briefly upset my stomach when I heard your distant, uninterested voice?
He, on the other hand, wakes me up by softly kissing my neck. We wander on a wonderful adventure in this state of half-sleep. His warmth is welcoming, chasing winter out in an alternative way. He sent me flowers, so I smiled every time I walked past them. We had breakfast in bed, pleasantly surviving on our tiny island away from the world. When he leaves, there is no sweet talk, no saddening goodbyes. He will be back for philosophy, red wine, late drunken nights, and body language.
Yet, he doesn’t shake me. He’s not in my daydreams – he’s just there. He is my wonderful temporary comfort. His goodbyes are not soul-crushing, his absent not devastating. He does not leave me delusional from longing. He is not you, because you are everything, except here.
I’m wearing your sweater, because you cannot warm me.
My heart is bitten by the frost of this concrete winter.
I miss you: my best friend. I miss your warmth, and your everlasting endurance of cold-feet-in-bed. I miss our car ‘singing’, late at night as we drove back home. I miss the funny faces you can pull, favourably on random sent pictures during the day. I miss your scent, your touch. I miss you dancing to music I don’t particularly enjoy at 7:30 in the morning. I miss your voice, with its tired sound, as you’re about to fall asleep. I miss your laugh, your smile, your eyes. I miss your kisses, whose memory of has slowly been fading. I miss you. Even if you don’t miss me at all.
Another goodbye, and another one. In an attempt to stabilise myself I drank a dead-sea-amount of wine in the hope it’d kill all emotions. Unfortunately it only left me dazed, confused, and swept off my feet – but not the good kind. More the hugging the toilet kind.
So I found myself in a state of self pity on the bathroom floor, with still the faint hope to hear you whisper it would be alright. But I was there and you are so far away. No amount of screaming would make you listen to me. Long distance phone calls are still long distance – and most of the time done in drunken spirits.
I peeled myself off the floor when I felt brave enough to shed my skin, and concur the massive hangover alone. Right in that moment I decide: I will ride my bike today, because I’m so Dutch, and all you are is so far away.
“So, do you finally feel at home?” He asks me casually. I look up from my beer to his face, one I still know well even though it has gotten older in these years of absence. His hair has gotten longer; his voice is still the same. He is a person I know; yet one I’m not familiar with. There is a sense of calmness over him that tells me that he does feel at home. Where ever that may be, I don’t know. In these four years he has become a stranger to me, of whom I know random details that are still stuck in my memory. Like his dislike for chicory, his shoe size, and even the way he lights a cigarette and smokes it still set a familiar scene.
I don’t have an answer to that question, so I just smile, take another sip of my beer, put down the glass and hear myself say “yeah, maybe.” But the truth is, in that moment it doesn’t matter whether I finally found myself a place to feel at home or not, the thing that does strike a chord is that he remembers these details about me too. Two strangers with too much shared memory and no shared future.
I gave up on the anger a long time ago, resentment a little later. I filed him in a segment of the memory-box that I hardly ever returned to. I went through all these stages of grief and arrived to a peaceful state of mind again. Yet, I never expected to wholeheartedly be able to say: I hope you’re happy.