The Beauty of the Unexpected
Have you ever bore witness to the moment when two souls unite, completely out of the blue? When two sets of eyes meet and realise they have found what they didnâ€™t know was missing. Well I had that privilege in Berlin, one surprisingly sunny afternoon in September. The dedicated creators of Fuse, a new dating app preparing to revolutionise the land of online dating, and I, their new intern, went on a mission to flood metro station SchÃ¶nleinstraÃŸe with love. Armed with Cupidâ€™s bow and arrow, we decided to brighten up the day of the cityâ€™s Sunday strollers, the clubbers returning from their night shifts, and flocks of curious tourists, by putting on a pop-up â€˜meet your date while you waitâ€™.
One may think that the grimy, urine-smelling platform would be a strange place for love to bloom, but we spruced the place up. We set up a table draped in a bright red cloth, adorned with a bottle of wine and a bouquet of pink plastic flowers. The vermillion was such a stark contrast to the concrete that a haven, unknown to the platform, was created, drawing people into this intimate and romantic space. The Fuse crew then waited for new love to blossom, watching as people sat down, eager to meet someone who could change their life forever.
I was there as two strangers glanced at each other, and then at the table. They moved together, and sat down smiling, beginning to talk. Even from afar, I could see the sparks flying and the connection forming. An irresistible love potion had been brewed by mixing this strangely romantic setting with the stench of my favourite city, and it made me realise that some of the most exciting tales of love are those which hatch unexpectedly.
The idea of having a date on a metro platform made me wonder about the times when Cupid haunts unpredictable places, creating odd situations to bring two souls together. The days of those who sat down at SchÃ¶nleinstraÃŸe must have been so titillating. Would they ever see their mysterious metro stranger again? It made me remember the times that unexpected meetings had happened to me, and about how much they meant to me. These instances have strengthened my hope that everyone can meet someone extraordinary at any moment in their lives.
The first time my soul met its match was a few years ago, when I went to work on a farm in Wales. I was there to cut myself off from society before I left for university, so I wasnâ€™t looking to meet anyoneâ€Šâ€”â€Šat least not romantically. However, as this was my first time away from home, my mother wanted regular contact. Irritatingly, I had forgotten my phone charger, and as I really was in deepest darkest Wales, no one had one that I could borrow.
So I had to take the plunge and go to the nearest town to buy a charger. The bus stop was beside a pub, and as I waited, a man sitting on the terrace started to chat to me. He told me that he was called Ed, that he was in his late 30s, and that he had just lost his job. He looked a bit hangdog as he nursed a pint, and tried to be subtle about smoking a joint. We chatted for ages and it turned out we had a lot in commonâ€Šâ€”â€Šwe were both at transitory and uncertain points in our lives, and we were feeling the need to get away. However, we were getting on so well that I missed my bus. As I saw the taillights turn the corner I had to try hard not to cry. It was the last bus, and I knew that my poor mother would be worried sick. Luckily a nice eavesdropping lady told Ed, â€˜You owe her a lift to townâ€™.
Normally, I would feel wary about getting into a car with a strange stoned man, but desperate times called for desperate measures and I knew that if I didnâ€™t want to worry my mother, I had to risk my life. It turned out to be the most wonderful adventure. I found Ed to be an extraordinary man. He was a nature and animal lover, he loved to experiment with cooking, and made all of his own clothes. He drove a little rattly car that he had driven to China, all the way through Europe and Russiaâ€”and then all the way home again. It had taken him over six months, and at least sixteen breakdowns. While he wasnâ€™t a religious man, he was fascinated by the concept. He told me about the rituals he had discovered and practiced on his travels and how they had changed his mindset.
On the way back he told me that heâ€™d started to appreciate the spirituality of his home, and so heâ€™d made it his mission to get to know all of the sacred sites of his area, and so gave me a guided tour. We stopped at a spring that was hidden in a copse. It was small and delicate, and surrounded by soft, spongy moss. The whole place was tranquil and the air seemed to hum with the sounds of the spring and wildlife. We then went on to some beautiful standing stones. They were on top of a hillock, exposed and stark, and all around was barren and sparse. Finally we decided to watch the sunset on a beach.
The beach was almost empty, save for a few couples who were tucked away against the cliff, sheltering from the chilly air. Once we had found a spot against a huge rock, we shared a joint and watched as the sun sank gloriously beneath the horizon, turning the sea the colour of a blood orange. The more we spoke, the more we realised that our souls had shared the same journey, and that we were in the same place, even if I was much younger than him. Once the sun had gone down, I kissed him. It was lovely, and I wanted to see him again after long days on the farm, but he never contacted me. I went back to the special beach a few weeks later hoping that he would be there, but he wasnâ€™t.
I wrote â€˜hi Edâ€™ on a rock. I wonder if he ever saw it.
An Affair to Remember
The second time such an unplanned and unexpected romance happened was a few years later when I was studying abroad in Paris for a year. I was in a BlaBlaCar travelling back to Paris from Lille, where Iâ€™d been visiting a friend. There were three of us in the carâ€Šâ€”â€Šthe driver whoâ€™s name I canâ€™t remember, who only seemed to be able to talk about the boring things that him and his wife did, and my fellow passenger who was a man called Pierre. He was what is known as a silver fox.
He was already in the car when I got there, and when I got in, he smiled a smile that showed all his perfect teeth. He was chivalrous and generous, taking my bag to the boot and letting me share his packet of dried mango. He was, however, a little above my usual age rangeâ€Šâ€”â€Šjust a few years younger than my father. But he was so handsome! Well dressed, tanned skin, white teeth, a full head of hair, and a personality like champagne. I, on the other hand, was a mere 21 years old, and definitely looked it. I had my hair in plaits, and I was carrying a bright pink backpack, so I assumed that he would see me as a silly little girl. While I imagined it, I never let myself properly believe that we could have any sort of romantic future. However, as the four hour car journey commenced, I noticed him becoming more and more charming, and more and more suggestive. I tested the waters, steering the conversation towards sex, hoping that he would take the bait. And he did marvellously.
When Pierre noticed that I was wearing fishnet tights, he said â€˜I take it youâ€™re into BDSM then? Of course you are, look at what youâ€™re wearing.â€™ I laughed nervously. While I did like my hair pulled from time to time, I had never been tied up or whipped during sex. However, I didnâ€™t want him to suddenly realise the age gap, so I played along with it, insinuating that my outfit choice was definitely there to hint at a sexual fetish. He did not need to know that I was wearing them because I thought they looked cool and that my other tights were dirty.
For the whole journey we flirted outrageously, scandalising the poor driver. He told me all about the BDSM parties he frequented in Paris, where you could be tied up, dressed in bondage, and I told him that I would love to go one day to explore my sexuality. I seemed to have enticed him. When we got to our destination he walked me to his car, and said that it would be such a shame to end the night here. I was suddenly nervousâ€Šâ€”â€Šwas he going to take me to a Parisian BDSM party now? There was definitely no bondage paraphernalia in my backpack. But I wasnâ€™t to worry, he just took me out to dinner in a fancy restaurant near the centre of Paris. I ordered steak tartare and and the best red wine and tried to avoid talking about anything that would make him remember that he could have a child my age.
Later on, he took me back to his apartment. I was expecting a Fifty Shades of Gray style Red Room of Pain with chains and ropes and leather, but if he had one, I didnâ€™t see it. Maybe he thought I wasnâ€™t experienced enough. Instead, I was treated to a made bed and a tidy bedroom which, for me, a student, was a most delicious treat. He then continued to treat me for hours into the night. And itâ€™s true what they say, an older man really does know what heâ€™s doing.
The next morning he drove me to my rather grotty front door which was covered in scaffolding and surrounded by loitering men. As he said goodbye to me, we decided that while what we had experienced the night before was wonderful, the age gap was too much, and that we should leave it as something sweet. Surprisingly, I was sad, and I missed him even though we barely knew one another. Luckily for me, just a few weeks later, I was saved by the final and, hopefully, everlasting collision of two souls.
The Longest Ride
Still in Paris, I was wandering the streets. It was the beginning of spring, so the sun was out and the juxtaposition between the grey winter and the new, light gold spring, was filling me with awe. There was barely a breeze, the birds were tweeting, and the clouds were small puffs of candy floss. I was walking along, marvelling at how the sun could make any drab building beautiful, when suddenly my insightful moment was rudely interrupted by a rather inconvenient event.
I was run over by a scooter.
While I was stupid for not looking as I crossed the road, the scooter was as equally unobservant as me, hurtling down the street at top speed. I wonâ€™t bore you with the details of the pain and the hospital and the x-rays and the medication because thatâ€™s not the point of this story. When I was run over, my day was ruined, and my back was broken, but it was also the catalyst for something marvellous. A man who had been walking next to me, who was also enthralled by the weather, was maimed by the same reckless driver.
We lay in adjacent beds wearing matching hospital gowns. I was unable to move, and he had his foot raised above his head. We met each other at our worst and at our least dignified. I couldnâ€™t go to the toilet by myself, and in the beginning, I couldnâ€™t even leave my bed. We heard each other crying, watched each other get injections, take tests, and listened to each other bemoaning over our terrible luck. We were together all day every day, and sometimes he would infuriate me. He snored, he was snappy in the morning, and he complained continuously about the fact that he had to stay so long over a crushed foot. But at the same time, he never forgot that my situation was so much worse. When the nurses were nowhere to be seen, he was the one who helped me through my discomfort.
He would carefully get his crutches and slide delicately off his bed, onto his still whole foot and swing over to me. He would untangle the sheets under my body, tuck or untuck my covers and plump the pillow under my head. When I was in pain, he distracted me by singing songs he made up on the spot, and relaying outlandish tales about his life that may or may not have been true. He kept me sane in my momentarily stationary life, and I would do what I could in return by sharing my hospital food with him. He said that all I needed to do was get better fast, because he was getting discharged soon, and he didnâ€™t think that he would enjoy life out of the hospital nearly as much if I wasnâ€™t there.
And then, of course, he had to go, leaving me immobile, in pain and stuck with some stranger next to me who didnâ€™t plump my pillows, and didnâ€™t sing me ditties, and who certainly didnâ€™t get to have any of my hospital food. However, my man with the less crushed foot came back every day to visit me, bringing me flowers and edible treats and tucking me in. Those couple of hours in the day when he would visit me were beautiful, they were what I looked forward to most, they were like two hours of Christmas every day. It was no longer just me that I was getting better for, it was both of us. When I was finally discharged, we explored Paris together, getting closer and closer to realising that we were each otherâ€™s soulmates. We lived together in Paris for the whole summer.
And so you see, you could be walking down the street and there, suddenly, poking its head out of the window, is love. You could be mowing the lawn, and love casually strolls round the hedge and into your neat garden. You could be buying a ticket for the metro, and love is there, picking up the change you dropped. This love can be a fleeting moment in timeâ€Šâ€”â€Šjust a day when two souls connectâ€Šâ€”â€Šbut can be as meaningful as a marriage. What my experiences, and Fuseâ€™s â€˜meet your date while you waitâ€™, taught me is to take a chance with the people who, by accident, appear in your life. They may be the one to alter your reality.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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