Have you ever shared a box of matches with another for just one night?
Striking stories and secrets onto each other’s hearts.
I know your person only by moonlight,
But I know your heart by the floral tapestry you painted in mine.
It’s happened a handful of times, this time I was 23, alone in a ruins bar in Budapest.
I remember his first name. He was very tall and thin, wearing black, or was it the dim lighting? I just know he looked over me with such intense presence. He was a German student, studying in Budapest; I think his Grandmother lived there. That’s all I can remember of his physical identity. If you showed me his picture, I’m not sure I’d know him, yet, he sits on a velvet covered couch in my heart. It’s his soul I became so acquainted and entwined in that night.
He found me at the bar, blue in my one-too-many cheap shots pressure cooker skull.
He told me about his studies, his dreams, his sick grandmother. I shared myself, how I had been celibate for maybe a year. How I was so uninterested in casual sex. How I had been burned in love, in lust. I laid my heart bare for this guy I didn’t know. He showed me the lock screen of his phone, him with his girlfriend. I felt the utmost respect for the woman in dimmed green light with long black hair. Yet I couldn’t shake the soul of him off me. We headed upstairs to the bathrooms, and I was sure he would be planning his escape. But as I walked out squinty-eyed and light headed, I remember him there, waiting so calmly for me, leaning against the graffitied wall. Our eyes met, oozing the sweetest calm force, something I hadn’t felt my whole trip away.
We made our way to the balcony and looked down upon the men caressing the bodies of women with extended spines, collapsed knees and swaying hips, illuminated by strobe lights. We just stood there, leaning over and staring for minutes in silence.
And then, he didn’t even know it but, he cracked me open with passing-by words that have remained tattooed on my skin.
A thick German accent thought out loud, “You’re worth more than all of this, all of them. Whatever you do in your life, don’t settle for what’s down there when you belong up here.”
We looked at each other, for what felt like an eternal moment. I bit my lip and leaned a little closer to the paradox of adamancy I would not kiss this taken man.
He brushed the blonde wisp of hair out of my face and held the gaze a little longer.
We didn’t kiss. We didn’t exchange details. I like it that way.
It’s art, to completely align with a soul for only a moment in your life. To find that soul is like drinking from a honeypot the bees swarm around without stinging. To drink their elixir without expectation. I did not need to know his person. It was enough to know his soul, rich in a cosmic kind of romance. There was nothing human about that night, yet it was so wholesomely human I feel everyone has a story of a soul like that etched inside them.
Sometimes, a romance like that doesn’t look the same in the harshness of the morning sunlight. Sometimes the calls or text fizzle into nothing and the initial magic of connection is lost on modern technology and the exhaustive search for something else, something better,
All. The. Time.
Instead, I have those words he declared over me as the spine of our relationship. I can tell the story of the time I got naked with a German student in story and in soul.
I think these moments are what makes travel so enticing, the fantasy of a blurring of perspectives in a pool of transience and possibility. A new perspective, an expansion of ourselves.