It was one of those cheap, movie-like moments you try to recreate in real life. You know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend otherwise. A boy looks at you and you hold his gaze for a few seconds, then one of you does something incredibly childish like start running away, screaming „You’re it!“ – hoping the other will try to catch you. A befitting background track plays in your head, because as we all know, a good movie is nothing without the appropriately sappy-yet-sweet melody building up in a crescendo until the moment he catches you, and you kiss. There’s drums, violins and electric guitars. Holiday lights glimmer in the distance. Perhaps there’s even a drizzle, or softly falling snow. It’s a moment you force into existence because you want the person to remember you, or maybe – if you’re brave enough to admit it – it’s because you want to make sure your own memory doesn’t falter.
To this day, I wonder about my reasons. More often than not though, whatever they were, I know they were selfish. They weren’t about etching the memories of the boys I kissed into the fabric of my already overcrowded brain, in deed, those kissers played only vague supporting roles in the movie that is The Quest For All That Is Me, And A Bit Of What Isn’t (one must never be too honest). At the end of the night, or in the morning, I would studiously rehash the many details of our rendezvous into my notebooks and write stories about our escapades. Even when I wasn’t the one doing the leaving, I still felt like a user, and this realization brought comfort in even measure as moral qualms.
Andre Gide once wrote, in a book I read as a teenager more religiously than most Christians do the Bible, that you shouldn’t prepare your joys and that you should never expect happiness to appear in the same form as before. In other words, Gide detested repetition above all else and urged the reader to branch out and always explore new possibilities. A noble effort, but for me, I could never follow his advice even though I’d made sure to both highlight and underline it, writing a daft comment in the margin in the likes of „so true, dude“. My happy moments were planned to the second, rehearsed with the zeal of a perfectionist actor preparing a role that would make or break their career. My co-stars changed from time to time, but the act remained the same because I never felt we’d got it quite right. An off violin note, a defunct light bulb, a painful collision of two noses – something was always amiss.
As much as I idolized Gide, I took another Andre’s words to heart when it came to the accumulation of life experiences. Breton spoke to the innermost part of me, when in Nadja he concluded that „perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.“
I soldiered on, along my well-trodden path toward the tragedies that inevitably came with the ending to a good romance novel, oblivious to what I had (or should have) learned from my history. Sometimes it was a fast midnight ride from the center to the edge of town, sometimes a slow and seemingly never-ending ascent fraught with hurdles you valiantly overcame only to find yourself on top, standing alone. By and by, the cliche rom-com tropes were replaced by reenactments of Bergman’s most drawn-out dramas, but the script was still there. The compulsive need to control, at least by writing, was also ever-present.
Until once. There was one moment, in the long succession of moments, when I wasn’t the instigator to the incredibly silly evening of celluloid-worthy corniness. It sparked a feverish curiosity in me, and I could see what Gide meant when he said it was better when joy came as a surprise. I stared at my new lover from across the bed as he fiddled with his phone.
„You must a writer, too,“ I smiling said.
„Poet,“ he corrected.
„Well, that explains it then. Will you write about today?“ I asked.
„Already am,“ he slyly grinned. „Why? Does it bother you?“
„Oh, no, not in the slightest,“ I replied. „It’s good to know that I, for once, don’t have to.“