We waited for a taxi in the soft pink glow of the Barcelona sunrise—I stood on the curb and he on the street just below me. My arms draped around his neck, while his head tilted back to meet my bowing cheek. I looked out to the street, the hills, and the cathedrals and wondered how I could ever feel this close to someone I just met. As I contemplated, he leans back to peck at my neck, and I feel confident that he too must be feeling something similar. At some point, the wind rearranged my tendrils across his face, tickling his nose, and making it wrinkle, but he never moved them out of the way. Probably because the moment was going to end shortly anyway, and our six hour romance was soon to be over.
I met him amongst a flurry of kids outside of a club; all of us too frustrated to pay a cover charge. We chatted on the way to a bus, where he was sweet and asked my friend if he could trade seats with her to sit next to me. Ivan was effortless to talk to, like an old childhood friend. And together, with his friends and mine, a new bar was found along the sea. Shots were taken and dancing ensued just long enough until he could steal me away. Through the lights, the laughter, the crowds; past the kids and into the calm. Our shoes came off and by my hand he guided me to a quieter place where the waves would intoxicate the mood further. And we drank them. And we drank them all until we became inseparable entities that roamed all over the city, kissing under every star, while peeling the night’s skin into the dawn. We were awake; alive and inseparable until we were no longer.
I had forgotten this memory completely until recently; I was on a crazy first date and somehow over-sharing became somewhat of a turn on (don’t ask.) And then today, it appeared again—this time in written form. I was looking up recommendations for a friend in my Barcelona journal and found this entry. My curiosity took over.
The affair is pages long; edge to edge with the tiniest handwriting that is both excited and enamored. And yet, there is a great composure and wisdom about the affair that is shocking for a twenty-five-year-old me. I don’t write about keeping in touch or seeing him again. I write about gratitude and enlightenment, and love. Just pure love.
Even recalling it a few weeks ago, I still felt like the experience was just a lucky gift. There was no real chance for failure. No fear of anything going wrong or being wrong about us. And with those obstacles out of the way, I was free to do what came naturally — love. And when the affair was over — I was still happy and writing an article about it, seven years later.
In real life, though, that shit doesn’t happen. We all have our rules. We have each other’s issues to mind. We have drunk confessions to make, sober decisions to decipher and miles of emotional baggage as far as the eye can see. The older we get, the more complicated the whole love thing gets—not just romantically, but with friends too. I am missing one of my closest girlfriends like crazy right now, but I can’t bring myself to chase her down. She did me wrong and I have my stupid rules.
Which is, actually, quite a sad thing to think about. It’s so weird that we put so many rules and walls around one of the best feelings in the world. Reading that entry really makes me wonder why I would ever make it so hard to love anyone in the first place. Clearly, I love the feeling. So why do I block it off?
Rumi says “Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” And I think this makes sense. I think we are all presented with the opportunities to remove ego and fears and open up to one another. We just choose not to because it’s scary as hell to do so. But when I think of Ivan’s last words to me, I’m kinda forced to wonder if the emotional-hobo lifestyle is worth it after all.
After our final kiss goodbye, the Dane’s hands cupped my face and held it—as if to make a point for me to always remember, in case no one else would ever be around to tell me. Into my eyes, he said assuredly “You are perfect.” I am perfect? I couldn’t say anything else. Not even when he closed the cab door. Nothing as he walked away. And nothing as I turned back and watched him fade along the Spanish streets whose names I could not remember or begin to pronounce correctly. I am perfect?
I mean, I’m not. But when I was free of all my wit and my mechanisms, my doubts and my fears…maybe when I was just out there glowing and generous and strong, maybe I was perfect. As is. To him. And maybe if you do the same, someone else will see it in you too. I don’t know. But Rumi seems to think it’s possible, and the feeling is just so damn good, I think it’s worth the reflection. Don’t you?