I meant this augur as an almost and met it instantaneously. I don’t know if I was just not ready yet, but I believed in everything I said and that is all the power it would need, and they told me it would be heavy. I was just not ready for it to happen so soon. To cut chords with my childhood? To release karmic grudges? I was ready to be stuck in it for at least a few more days. I guess new moons don’t play fairytale games. I guess, new moons move you into who you need to be in its only divine order. (There is no “one way or another.”)
You do feel it coming, every time it is on its way. You are just afraid to call it by its name. You find comfort in watching it stay, although, it depreciates your autonomy. Although your self love is always in question, you would rather be unhappy than lonely-which is all, really, the same thing at the essence. You would rather not explain it to anyone who knew you guys only as a unit, and, especially, not in the dead of winter. Can’t it wait until the spring time when I will be better? …when I am not afraid of the day’s length because we are ready to unravel at the same dusk?
It does not distress me to tell the truth. The only thing I am afraid to say to you is what you will not say back. But if I am ever able to see you in my ‘morrow, we must get to it.
He is wearing olive green, tweed pants with a yellow lined, plaid print jacket that matches his undertone perfectly. His left hand that only has a ring on its pinky sits outside of his red bubble coat, hanging on to his pocket. He is thinking. He looks like he is always thinking- like his thoughts are the only thing that has allowed him age. He looks like he might be vegetarian, but would opt for bone marrow during Restaurant Week if that is one of the starters the restaurant may offer.
We first met in the modern wing. I saw him again amongst 18th century Italian oil paintings as I was making myself apart of the banquet feasts in the canvases.
He asked, “why is it that we are our most honest selves with strangers?”
I looked over each of my shoulders to be sure he was talking to me.
As there was no one else in the room at this particular time, I pondered, and didn’t immediately jump at the question.
Eventually, I respond: For not putting honest effort and giving good attention to ourselves, its hard to convey our true interests, and that becomes the easiest way to get comfortable in a lie.
It’s that you don’t really recognize it as the lie without having anything to compare it with. It is just that- that what is comforting, or who, can also be ailing. So your best fight begins to be the habitual way you learn to disappear. It becomes the way you assuage your hunger. Meeting someone you can quickly devour doesn’t sate you for long, so you’ll need another; another; and another again… to infect while you are still afraid of the work it takes to get to know yourself.
At this, he fell deeper into the canvas.
“I do think the best communicators are the ones who can speak to the common person and have them not only understand, but digest the message,” he said.
“Monsieur…” “Do you call yourself a layman?” I asked.
“I don’t like to call myself anything different than another.”
“So you agree? It is a way to cope to get distant with people? And the space is more comforting than someone creating this depth in you that you didn’t know could exist..? So just to feel good for only a moment, we have these sorts of conversations, until these sorts of conversations don’t feel natural anymore, and then we go and have them with someone else so we can start all over before we were ever fully able to take it there.”
“Yes,” he looked reluctant to say. “When someone gets to know me well, the relationship becomes less of something I find pleasure in than when I am still spending time; because once someone knows you well, they can call the not so good parts of yourself to your attention, and that can make us uncomfortable. So I am sure to be the one who is making the lasting impression. So who you think you are- having this mouthful of things to say to me on our first date?”
“Pardonne-moi, Monsieur. I hadn't realized it was you I’d come to meet. I am always here alone on Thursdays, for your information. It just seemed you wanted advice. I don’t really mean to set the wrong tone.”
He turned directly into me now. “Will you have coffee with me? Just downstairs,” he pointed without turning away. I recognize him as my sort of strange and oblige for coffee.
I can’t drink coffee without a sweetened creamer like hazelnut, so I opted for a ginger and lemon tea with two spoonfuls of manuka honey instead. I had it made up in my mind, too, that I wasn’t going to be doing much talking; but I noticed the way he watched me and the “at ease” way I went about things with him honing in.
Immediately after taking his first sip of the light roast, the man asked me, “where are your parents from?” I laughed at his gauche, but admirable, way of communicating and say, “I am not in this country alone, if that is what you expected to hear. My mother and father are both astute professionals of the literary world, and, as well, they don’t like for me to bring home strangers.”
“What does your father study? Is he a professor?”
“And my mother too. She teaches philosophy.”
“Do you know Lucretius and Epicureanism?”
I chuckled. “Do you?
“Then you won’t find it insane that I feel you are my loveless match.”
“I don’t know. Have you married before?”
“No. I wanted to. I would never get that far before it dwindled. So we mustn’t wait,” he grinned.
It wasn’t the coffee that made him pert. He kept on an easy, eery smile throughout all of his questioning, resembling a most beautiful boogieman. He stopped to remind himself of what I’d said earlier about the work it takes to get to know yourself.
“Have you been single for long?” I asked him. He said he’d never really operated in a way where he felt he wasn’t. “The problem is, most people wouldn’t see this casualness between two strangers, like this, as innocent. And it would be… usually.”
“I have an intrinsic desire for you that, I think, should be wholly dealt with.”
I was just watching him with the most placid piece of my body. Quickly, then, to jolt any comfortability in me- “I leave for Sudan tomorrow. It’s Bella, innit?”
I had not told him my name.
“I come here every Thursday too, Isabella. I leave for Sudan tomorrow night. Here is my number.” He lifted my phone and stored his name: Gallant. “Maybe we will meet back here in a few weeks. I will be gone a little while. I would like to meet your professors too. If you don’t mind- I have a question for them. Of course I will be waiting for your call, if you do decide. It was all my pleasure to finally meet you. I love how you laugh with your mouth wide.”
He left a debit card for me to pay the café and keep, and he said the pin number to me before leaving. He had a band in South Sudan, and just that way- he left me to myself.
if it comes, if it goes.
The beginning of the world started at the end of the night. Gallant had been gone nearing five weeks. I’d been to the museum every Thursday since, just the same as I had before he intervened. It was five in the morning my side when he called me.
“Isabella Shoe? How do you do?”
“Gallant,“ I called calmly.
“Tell me… When was it last you took time to tend to yourself?”
“Oh, I spend the most time with myself, Monsieur.”
“Heaven might be beneath you, Isabella Shoe.”
“If you mean to say that I am a clairvoyant, bad bitch, I have always known this. How is Sudan?”
He explained that he had gotten his destination mixed up and they, in fact, had landed in Nairobi to play. We talked about how I had been to Kenya for a day on an overnight layover heading to South Africa before, and was wooed by the pace. He talked about the way the natives from different tribes danced to his band’s music and the strength in their extraordinary vertical leaps. We talked about some places we have been and what we used to think of when we thought heaven was a place that we now find in people. He sang a song for me in Portuguese that was about his childhood in Rio. He named me “Isabella o Modelo.” We turned five into seven and while the sun rose, he arranged for me to come to Nairobi to spend his last week together.
Graciously, I declined by reminding him “to abstain from all that feeds your love… rather than reserve it for a single lover who monopolizes you and thus involve yourself in inevitable anxiety and anguish.” And he would agree by finishing with “for day by day the frenzy grows and the misery is intensified.”
Silently, we know that to avoid love does not mean to deprive ourselves the joys of Venus, and we can always come back to this. We agree to our meeting place as soon as he returns. My energy was high. He text a playlist of some of his favorite Brazilian music to me and Seu Jorge sang while I steamed my face and applied the guts of an aloe plant to my skin and ran a bath. Most of my mornings start this way: feeling good about the way the world turns out.