I'm sleepless in Beirut.
I better watch out, I better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why, London is coming to town. They have made a list, they're checking it twice, they already know who's naughty and nice...so try and be good for goodness sake!
Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him and Balding should land in Beirut in the coming days. Or so they said. Or do I say this because I care?
I do remember.
I met Balding at Art Lounge. He was here on vacation. I was ordering drinks. He stood a little behind me to my left. I felt his gaze. He later explained he wasn't looking at me. I turned to ask for a light. He told me he didn't smoke. I used the candle instead. He made fun of my "do you have a light?" line. I retorted that it wasn't a line, I had in fact lost my lighter. He asked me what I did in life. I let that slip and I answered and reciprocated the question. He continued the conversation. I did not have anything better to do. He seemed like a nice guy. I seemed like a nice girl. We spoke until I left. I gave him my number. He said he'd call the next day. I then realized that he hadn't even asked for it. He must have thought I was eager. I thought I had made a terrible mistake. He waved to me as I drove off. I hoped that was the last I'd see of him. Ma2ele jlede. I had Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him and a plan to go to London.
Imaginary-Extraordinary-Him used to sing to me. He would play on his guitar and sing and I would replay the voicemail a hundred times. We would both pour wine simultaneously and our video conversations would become increasingly frivolous as the drops collected in our blood. We would share the sounds of bath water, afternoon jogs and kitchen utensils and we imagined that the other was right there. We knew how we would feel one against the other, how we would fit, because the weight of our words made us corporeal. We would stay up for hours, past bedtime, past logic, past reality, past the present, past the future, absorbed in conversation, absorbed by the pixels sent via cables and satellites until we were close to collapse and sometimes past that. When Skype was beyond reach, we would pour ourselves down letters and text messages, and every moment would be missing something until we had exchanged a message or a comment, till we made poetry bleed from between the lines.
"I'm at Deir el Qamar. There is a girl on stage playing the flute."
"I'm at a really pretentious place called Kensington Roof Gardens."
"So much. So so much. [pretend I am your ground]"
"I don't need to pretend...it's all relative. You're real."
"So are you. I don't even miss you."
"I do [saying the same thing as you in a different way :) ]...
...the next morning...
...I woke up with bits and fragments of yesterday's attempts to read parts of your e-mail. Finding myself often scrambling for an imaginary pen and paper to pin down important thoughts I wanted to share with you before they slip out of my mental cavity or sucked back to some hidden parts of my brain. Your existence seems to be unleashing a dormant creature in me, like a third eye of spirituality, almost like I cannot imagine a world without you because it's so much more awake with you, Sleepless, a new dimension...well, in blunt honesty I'm not sure what it is but hell I can't wait to write you back. I hope it's not just out of curiosity, but even that is fine in our world..."
"To read that and try to reply...I'd only be lying."
To share that and try to unbelieve it, would have been a crime against every fairytale I had ever read before going to bed. I had to believe it. I had to think that I had found that other person who could read my mind, who could navigate it and who could love it, because if I had been cynical, I would have died then and there. All hope of that special something extraordinary would have left me.
But maybe the trick of that extraordinary special something surviving was to abstain from ever touching it. Like a surface of glass, still and impeccable, mirror to the sky, ode to strolling clouds, a plane to a reflection matrix, once touched, even if by a wisp of air escaping the mouth above the water surface, would be perturbed from shore to shore for days, maybe weeks to come. And only when its unfathomable stillness would be restored, only when the earth would appear as though it had never moved, only when the last grain of sand settled at the bottom, only then would it be beautiful again and the eyes that looked upon the lake in awe and fascination would be long gone.
I think we both knew that, but the possibility of us never meeting became a projection of possible anguish and pain. I justified everything with a "What if?"
"What if you're the one? The one I could spend the rest of my life with? Wouldn't that be something? Wouldn't it be something to have caught a frivolous thought of you being my man, my forever before ever having touched you and then discovering it to be a prophecy that came true?"
In the end, I just wanted to know. I couldn't weigh the What if? question in my head anymore. It became an obsession and all the signs, the dwindling communication, the change in tone, the broken promises, they never reached me through the fog. I succumbed to a sort of Saramagian blindness - my eyes were licked over with a milky whiteness through which I could never see past, but I always insisted on squinting in the hope that I sooner or later would.
So I bought my ticket to London. Willingly and consciously, the most beautiful thing was tarnished, and I think we both knew that, but the excitement of the trip lied to us. We were deceived by our very own lie.
The truth was ugly. Or it didn't fit. It was two sizes too small. Or was our lie two sizes too big? It doesn't matter. The pantylines were obvious.
It's strange to know that we will be in the same city once again. It's strange to not feel the same excitement that I did last. It's strange to acknowledge that something extraordinary was but a figment of the imaginary. Or was it? Can something be dismissed as a hypochondriac's fancy once you have felt it in your bones? I refuse to think that the line between tangible and intangible is that clear. But the strangest thing is that I have come to terms with the failure. I admit to having knitted a sweater two sizes too big. I admit to having tried to wear it. I admit that the largeness of it did not bother me, but it was the prickly wool that made me take it off and stow it away.
I admit that I sometimes wonder why it plummeted and I admit that I cannot pin down why. I admit that I am curious. I hope it's just that, curiosity, because that is fine in our world.