13 August 2006

(Bitter)Sweet Memories

I was just flipping through the stations and came across the movie "Before Sunrise." The flush of memories that came back is incredible. And the longing to relive them, or make new memories like them, is intense.

The movie is about two people who meet on a train, and American guy and a French woman. They start talking, and have easy conversation, and he convinces her to spend the evening with him in Vienna. (not spend the night like THAT) They have the most random and open conversation, all the stuff you want to ask someone you are first dating but can't, but since they know this is the only night, they have no problem asking one another. As the evening goes on, the start to like each other more and more, and know this is it, and trying to make it last. The movie is just them talking, laughing, and being in that uncomfortable but beautiful stage of knowing each other.

This movie may not resonate to many people, but to those who have traveled, and traveled solo, it will. We have these moments, which are more intense than a first date because you know what is around the bend, but want to hold onto the now. When you can talk and talk and it is all so deep and meaningful because no one knows either of you, and as the woman in the movie says, no one can tell the other all the bad things about you. It is real and free and lovely. You look deep into the other person's eyes and want to hold on and capture what he looks like, the particular glimmer, because right now this is the most important person that will ever be, and you know in just a short time he will be gone from your life.

You walk and talk and really know each other, the new flush of what must be love. You can't imagine life not knowing this most interesting person. You want to hold and be near him, because he is filling every piece of what you want, what you are missing at home. You can't stop listening, and you can't talk enough, and you just need to know more, more! You will never find anyone who understands you as well as this person. You will never have the opportunity like this to know someone in such an intense and protected place. He looks at you and you at him and you just know. He is the end all, be all.

Then it is time for him to get on the train and you to go your own way. Although you may have only known him for a day, a few days, a week, a month, you feel as if you have known him forever and a piece of you is being ripped off and sent away. You pine and wish and wonder how you can make it work, how he can move to wherever you will be or maybe you can move near him. You realize this just isn't possible, that it is ridiculous and out of the question and what are you thinking, but your heart just wants more, needs more. You promise to write and maybe visit, that somehow things might work out, but all you really know is that you will never forget.

You get to the station when it is time, just to spend every last second. You have the romantic kisses and wish someone could take your picture and make it a postcard like the one in "Singles" that we all had on our bulletin boards in college. You grasp his hand and walk him up to the train, only letting go when he has walked up the steps out of your reach. He leaves on that train, you wave goodbye and watch it leave and it is like all your world is crumbling. Your heart is hurting and your brain is chastising it, you knew this was going to happen and yet did nothing to stop it. You get back to your room and cry and hurt, until your friends make you go have a drink or do a dance.

You go on with life and travels. Nowadays I guess you would email but back then, that didn't happen. You wait for a poste restante and can't meet anyone who matches up. You try to figure out a way to be close to him again, knowing that it is all a pipe dream. You meet other people and they pass through and you can't find the strength to say goodbye anymore.

You get home and the years pass and you wonder, what if? What if there had been more than that one night, week, month. What if you had figured things out? You know life would have happened, that nothing would have been so romantic as those days, that reality would have gotten in the way. It makes you sad but happy at the same time, because you can watch movies like "Before Sunrise" and really understand what these two crazy people are doing.

It is the unique thing about traveling, about being outside of the place you live and your comfort zone. And it is so incredible, even though at the time is so painful. To know that you are capable of those totally free and honest moments without consequence, and that someone else out there could be capable of it too, it is, for lack of better word, awesome. It makes me long to be back in that place. It makes me long to just be armed with my backpack, train ticket, and the promise of the empty road full of understanding.

No comments: