Monday, January 27, 2014

A tragedy of haste

Come to think of it, he was always in a hurry. From the first, he hardly stopped to breathe.

He threw  me a line, we proceeded with flirtatious repartee, but before we could even exchange names, The Beatles' I Wanna Hold Your Hand played, and that's exactly what he did--never mind that we were strangers who had met only minutes before. I used to think the timing was perfect, but I realize now that it may have been pure coincidence, only his haste and the band's set list conspiring to bring a fantasy to life, if only for a night.

When the music stopped, he spared no seconds, not even to wait for a table to free up for us, so we took to the floor, legs tangled, heads held close. We exchanged names, places of origin, reasons for being there, reasons for existing, likes, dislikes, desires. In the course of a few minutes, I knew more about him than I did about certain acquaintances I've known for years.

Before the conversation could even die down, he leaned in and kissed me with a gentle force that I now realize was urgency. And then he apologized, said he couldn't help it, he just had to. I told him I didn't mind, and then it was my turn to kiss him, my turn to impose my preferred pace--slower this time, enjoying the feel and taste of his lips. When we pulled away, his eyes bore through me with intensity--or was it impatience?

In a matter of seconds, we decided to go outside. I had barely pulled my jacket on and already he pulled me in, and we kissed on the sidewalk, fiercely, never mind the catcalls and wolf whistles. We pulled away only when we ran out of breath, and he took my hand again and led me down the near-empty streets of the city I had known for barely a day.

We talked while we walked, trying to cover as much ground as possible. Every now and then, we'd stop and he'd pull me in for a kiss, always apologizing or explaining afterwards, always because he couldn't help it, because it had been too long since the last kiss. It was as if he was trying to sneak in as many kisses as he could before the stars disappeared and the sky started to brighten and I had to head back to London, three hours (a lifetime) away.

Did he know then that midnight to dawn would be all the time we ever had together? When I remember how we parted, I know for certain that the answer is yes. He knew that was all we would get. Sadly, that was all he wanted.

He said he would follow me to London the next day, but it was a promise that was broken as soon as it was made. We embraced one last time, added one last kiss to the countless tally, and turned to head in opposite directions, looking back at exactly the same time, but only once.

I can't recall goodbye ever being said, but perhaps that's only meant for things more tangible, more meaningful than a lifetime of kisses crammed in the few short hours between midnight and sunrise.

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