My friend of nearly twenty years was flabbergasted at the sight of my miniature coffee tattoo when we went for, well, coffee two weeks ago. You only notice this baby now?, relying on the premise that I had absolutely told her when I had it done three years ago. After long deliberation, some quirks and memory lapses confessions, she and I finally settled that I did, in fact, forget to mention it. It is gorgeous, she rejoiced. You know what you should do? Add a miniature cigarette right next to it. Coffee and cigarettes — my morning ritual; for me, the soul mates per excellence; and my faithful associates for every piece I have ever written. For every great piece I have ever written. I will never give up coffee, I giggled. That is forever; until my skin turns to dust. But I cannot get a cigarette tattooed, especially that I plan to quit. Completely. Sure, I failed until now but it will happen. One day. Then, she said something that still makes me stare into nothingness today — and smile. Well, even if — when you do quit, and the joyful agony -- or agonizing joy -- of a lit cigarette will only be but a beautiful memory... Notwithstanding, you would still love it, won’t you? You cannot regret a part or time of your life, even if it does not last.
I never believed in love at first sight until, of course, it happened to me. Truth of the matter is that it remains a mad concept in my eyes despite (or because of?) the reality that I am a living proof of its existence. It was the night I was not supposed to leave the comfort of my home. More importantly, it was the night I did not feel like going out at all; but the ever-lasting withholding dance with my posse, naturally, resulted in my defeat, Okay, one drink. We sat at the bar and I forced myself to have fun which, almost unconsciously, I did end up having. Pretty good company breeds good; and even though the one drink policy is, as everyone knows, the biggest lie we will ever tell ourselves; that night, I stayed true to my word. Well... Almost. I was ready to pay and head out when my friend, due to the loud music, shouted it my ear, Turn around, the man of your dreams is standing right behind you. I rolled my eyes. Come on. But turn, I did. And God knows I have not stopped spinning ever since.
The moment I locked eyes with him remains that one thing that still makes me stare into nothingness today — and wonder. For instantly I knew that that millisecond would split my life into two; that from then on, there would be a before and an after. That in this fucking crazy world, there is that One person that you can — and will — love ’til death do me part. I was done. This fateful moment got tattooed on my heart on a crisp autumn night ten years ago. I marvel. Ten years. In 1995, Before Sunrise, long before Before Sunset and Before Midnight rounded off the trilogy, breathed life into my ‘idea’ of love. It was filmed in Vienna. I lived in Vienna then. I see a connection there; but little did I know that I would go on well into adulthood and live my, somewhat, own version. Albeit that just merely two days ago, he managed to convince me that we were indeed a weird, yet unmistakable rendition of Jesse and Celine. I giggled.
I trust that it is in my bones to have an inkling for momentous, yet eternal passionate love -- especially in art form; then again, we are all aware that life itself is unlike any stupendous film, song, painting or epic poem. For all the reasons known to mankind, we do not work. Routine betrays us. Values do not mesh. Visions differ. Real life does not do us any favour. We tried so many times over the past decade, only to have honestly given up on the probability — or possibility — or hope that maybe, just maybe, we do belong together somewhere down the road. Well... Almost. The first time we said good-bye was the hardest thing I ever had to go through. It felt all kinds of wrong granted that, in hindsight, it was of course the right thing to do. That is my definition of heartbreak: putting back pieces together that do not fit. Then, life happens -- as it should; and I kept reminding myself that he was not the right one as every Girl Code magazine would beckon. Thus, life happens as it should. You move on. You do love again. You can get your heart broken again. Each time you think you can no longer recover from yet another disappointment, funnily enough, God has a fantastic way of pulling out a surprise. Time wounds all heals.
But the thing is, the thing is, while experience, maturity, good conscience -- all the rational things indubitably narrow everything down to life's most precious lesson: the art of letting go; still I contemplate, if after the first time — and nth time, he and I still wind up staying in each other's lives -- I ask even the most romantic or skilled -- or doomed wordsmith: what, in the end, is love? From where I am standing, I came to the conclusion that it is still utterly impossible to truly pin down what happens when you fall in love. Madly in love. Selflessly in love. I write. I tried. Just the same, I cannot find the words that could explain why I love him. Still love him. Always have, and always will.
This is a journey that does not have the happy ending as we would like to read. Yet it still bottles something quite... spectacular. Arresting. Out of this realm. "If there is any kind of magic in this world... it must be in the attempt of understanding someone" (Before Sunrise). He knows my soul and I know his. Essentially, there is little else that matters. At the end of the day, or when my skin will turn to dust, I will rest assured that I did love someone unconditionally, beyond reason, beyond words. It was love at first sight once I locked eyes with him. I knew it then, I know it now. Ten years on, and I have stopped fighting it, forevermore. We are the love that steals from eternity. We are the kind that have lived different versions of ourselves through the years, but always find a way to return to our favourite spot, the Ex Bar. Laughing. We are corny like that. For us, sporadic lasts. Momentary is permanent. My longtime friend's statement simmers in the back of my mind: “Even if — when you do quit [...] Notwithstanding, you would still love it, won’t you? You cannot regret a part and time of your life, even if it does not last.” Well, not in the classic sense at least. Ultimately, not all of us will have a fairy tale, but that does mean the story is any less magical. The saying rings true. Some people do live under your skin. I adore my tattoos. Each time I look at the ten (and counting) of mine, I smile. I can never regret them. I will not regret the One tattooed on my heart.
Usually, the books I pick up end up twice their size after I am done -- 'thickened' with notes, underlined passages, penned emoticons and if the read is that good -- countless pages marked by a folded corner. My favourite French Literature Professor once told me that the 'masterpieces' of your life are the books you can -- and will -- read again every couple of years. Whether you feel exactly the same or see it in a new perspective will not matter -- only the fact that you bookmarked it will. I guess I could not agree more. Love can be described, but never explained. I write. Here, I try.
For writers, nothing is ephemeral. For writers, what makes you feel alive lives on forever.