Saturday, 2 January 2010

Europe post

Europe is:
Kissing on the bridge across the Arno. If you look down, you see that the river is absolutely full of water rats. It's quite amazing. And there is almost always a golden haired boy staring down there as well. And you smile at each other. And he says hi, in Italian. Which is a smile, a wink and an outstretched hand. You are crazy, because your parents are sleeping off the afternoon in a little Florentine hotel just across the street. From their room, should they wake up, the first thing they will see from their window is the luminous honey coloured Arno, and their daughter, holding the hand of a complete stranger in the sunset.
But you don't actually think this through, and take the hand that is reaching for yours.
The one thought that you do have is Oh my God, what are you doing!! But of course you brush this aside.
For a split second the world is reduced to the quick, heady motion of being pulled from one point on the bridge to another, just 3 feet away. From one point 3 feet away to the other side, in the under a second, you have crossed over an unfathomable abyss and found yourself alive on the other side. It might be hard to believe, but there will never again be any doubt that connection - the kind that curls your toes and sends your insides into chaos - is actually dead easy. It's like when you first learn to alter your vision by screwing up your eyes. You can never go back to thinking it is difficult, and you can do it at will for the rest of your life. Kind of like learning how to ride a bike. That you are young makes it easy. But it is not what makes it possible.
And you say, only, hello. Once in English, which is a word said with a smile. And once in Italian, which is a kiss. You are not shocked, or taken by surprise, or outraged or indignant. There is no feeling of being taken advantage of. Of your righteous virtue violated. None at all. You kiss him back. And for ten minutes, you just kiss.
Until that thought about your parents possibly watching from the window arises again, and you stop. You hold hands for a while longer, and continue holding for as long as possible, until you are too far away for your fingers to touch. Then it's over. You smile, in English, turn around, and run back to the hotel. When you look out of your window, he is still on the bridge, looking at the street down which you ran.
Life's never been the same again.