· Encapsulate ·
The African Road;
He watched her from that seat. His backside was destroying him, and he couldn’t sit still, but yet he wondered whether that was because of the arrangement or because of her. Perhaps he picked that seat because she was always there, visible in the mirror, while she continued to be what she was. Every time he looked at her, his mind stopped beating, and a beautiful calm enveloped him. The man to her side was someone he could never take umbrage with. Generous and clever and witty, and she was besotted with him. Hell, he would have been too, probably, if only the man was female. It was clearly a magnificent relationship that they had fostered; and so with a lucid burden he realised he could not attempt disruption. Yet still he felt he must, and so he fought himself. She was there. She was like the girl he had met a million times before, but never in reality, only in the reels of his imagination. She was the girl with which he wanted to hear every story she had to tell, the girl he had had a thousand conversations with, the girl some part of him knew and some part of him knew he was looking for, even though he had never seen her coming.
He first saw her on a dusty track near a beach, and he was entranced. She looked at him as if there was not, and never would be, anything to hide. When she moved, she moved as if the world knew her song. Even her hair seemed to cascade down of its own volition, daring the world with each turn to go with it or to stay, unilluminated. He was conscious from the start that he was looking at her too much, but he could not help himself; his curiosity, his fascination, demanded it. He could watch her from that side mirror and just marvel. She would dance with such reckless abandon. She would smile so easily, so wilfully. She would engage so effortlessly, with such intelligence. He had been travelling for months, for years, and this brand of experience had proven itself to be so rare and so beautiful that he alternated between suppressing nothing, for that is how one should live, and suppressing everything, because he knew the futility. He wanted to stare for days and let the vision fill him but knew he must not. She reminded him of her, in the way she moved and in the passion that enveloped her, in the way her eyes glinted with everything she said, but yet still she was utterly unique. He knew he was destined to be like a cyclist on a velodrome, always angling into a centre but never getting there, but still his eyes never left the core. He rode and rode and rode.
She was fleeting, as he supposed all the best things are; transience is prone to lending things its beauty. And yet he knew, in a part of himself that he didn’t know, that she would remain in permanence, in those moments that he needed to remind himself of that centre, down in the depths.
It was just a moment, stolen from the borders of a space that had none. They lay in that bed, circumstance having drawn them together despite every other thing seemingly working against their tide. Nothing was right about the situation, but then, everything was. It was enough to have brought them here, to this one moment, these few days, a world away from the world. The land outside of the door there receded from consciousness, and the rest of the room receded into darkness, but the shadows just served to prove the sunshine. The light illuminated the space between them, and that was all they needed.
He looked at her, and it seemed every memory he had of her, of them, was accessible to his mind and his tongue all at once. Every feeling he felt. Those eyes were the rabbit hole of Carroll’s imaginings. He could search there in them for everything, probing around like the endless universe. It sounded cliché to him as he thought it, and it was, but he supposed they were called clichés for the truth that they invariably held. He could live in those eyes. He loved them. He knew that he did from the moment that he saw them those many years ago. That was the pull. There was something innate in him that it made it immediate that night in that unremembered bar, something fierce, and his intuition was vindicated in this new moment. He searched for the word that encompassed the feeling that those eyes so viscerally bestowed upon him, before realising there was none. It was as if he wanted to put them in a bottle and carry them around with him when he left, a futile attempt to make the moment linger into permanence, forever a pale imitation of the noon sky.
She wasn’t sure what was happening. She hadn’t anticipated this, and she was uneasy with the vulnerability it placed upon her. She felt herself get moved, but the chemistry they had didn’t allow her to get acquainted with her new surrounds. Words flew out of her mouth, and his ears took them in hungrily. She struggled to maintain the air of indifference she had exercised in the lead up, the façade of nonchalance that he sensed with every exchange prior. His wind weathered her, and she found herself, uncomfortably, being comfortable with that notion. She didn’t know how to be, how to act; the game plan had gone out the window, but yet she had been the one that had slid that window open, and she was the one that did not close it still. The wind felt good against her face. Refreshing. Earnest.
They peppered one another with kiss after kiss, clothes sprawled around the floating bed in that receding darkness. There was, despite it all, a certain sorrow that pervaded the air. The more they realised that this was indeed what their instinct had previously both told him and warned her, the more they realised that this was something, the more they knew that the rip would leave a more profound mark. Still, though, the rabbit hole caught them, as if it were widening its reach as if to cater to all contingencies.
He touched her skin and smelt her hair. She chortled in that way that induced that wry little smile of his. It was an intelligent chortle, and one not to be trifled with. It meant something. There was subtext in those little movements of hers. The way she would look at you from her side, with her lower lip a little down. The way she would insinuate something without any words whatsoever, leading you on confidently. The way her hair fell from her head and seemed to conduct it’s own navigation, slashing from side to side as if to say ‘I’m going this way; coming?’ The way she moved, in general, as if the entire room would move with her; the entire world, even. Or it - the world - would instead just sit there staring. He was forever caught between the two. The world just seemed to wilt under her gaze.
They didn’t want this moment to end. This gloriously beautiful moment. It had become apparent that the exploration had only just begun.
But they couldn’t continue. It was impossible.
It was just a moment.
I was just watching her. Doing the simplest thing, she was. Just watching. Rarely have I been so entranced. All it was, was her getting some sort of ham at the supermarket. They had it locked up, because apparently Spaniards like to steal ham, and so she had asked the attendant to bring the key. Her Spanish is impeccable, and it puts me to shame; she was just laughing with her about some unremembered piece of conversation, while I looked on from the far end of the aisle. She was life personified. Such grace, such unencumbered beauty; beauty, precisely because it was unencumbered. It was as if there was no suppression in her, and that everything that came out of her was inextricably linked to her being, like rain dissolving through soil. It is so pure, open, infusing, contagious, giving, stunning. She looked at me, just briefly, when the attendant put her key to the lock, and she smiled. Actually, it wasn’t so much a smile, but more that moment when you are laughing and you then see something else that makes you intensely happy from the inside out. That transition moment from a joke into intimacy. All I could feel in that moment was an overwhelming pride that I could instill that sort of feeling into a woman of this sort of caliber.
I have been here before. No I haven’t. I have and I haven’t, simultaneously. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like her. How do I describe this woman? The first is to say that I could never call her a ‘girl’. It would do her an injustice, as if I were taking half of her away and locking her in a cabinet. There is so much to her. So much to discover, so much to love. So, let’s string some adjectives together, and hope that I get halfway there. Complex. Insightful. Probing. Intricate. Vivacious. Graceful. Articulate, not in her language so much, more in her life in full. Precise, in the way she allocates herself. Full. Immense. Utterly beautiful, in the most profound of ways. Formidable. So fucking formidable.
She has the face, and the disposition, of someone you look at and can’t help but like. She lives life with such happiness, and for that she has whatever envy I can muster, envy in a man that does not know the word. Someone once told me that, out of everyone he knew, I lived life the best; that I lived a lifetime in every weekend. With this woman, I feel like I’m living two, every day. I leave every conversation with her – and that is to wrongly assume that our time is not one long, continuous conversation – feeling drained, because of the depths that we explore, and the intellect required to explore it. When I make love to her, I feel it in every pore of my body, as if my toenails were undergoing the most intense of orgasms too. When I look at her, I see all of her, the entire embodiment of who she is. I don’t know all of her intricacies, not yet, but I know that there has seldom been anything that I’ve ever wanted to know more.
Call it what you will. I don’t know what this is. It is utterly bizarre, of course, as most things are with me, but for the moment I don’t care. I’m just going to chase this feeling, and revel in it while I can.
She just said something to me, just then, right there from the other side of the bed as I write about her. “I don’t like it there are no windows”. At which point, I motioned towards the window. “No,” she says; “I can’t sit in that window”. If I could put her in a bottle, and take her with me throughout life, those words would make up the label on the front of the glass.
She’s sitting in front of me, now, knowing that I am writing about her, yet completely ambivalent to it. Do I show her this piece? Do I not? It doesn’t matter to her, of that I am certain. God, I fucking love it. It is so rare that you meet someone that is so abjectly comfortable within their own skin, someone whose insecurities have been called out as just that, as insecurities, henceforth forever to be mocked and ridiculed as something not worth the light of day.
She is the one enduring mystery of my life right now. I feel like I know her, completely and intimately, but then not at all. It is like exploring myself when I am with her. Every time we talk it is as if we are having a dozen conversations all at once; like a building with only one door but a million people trying to go through it, our thoughts bottleneck. There is so much to say to her that it all stalls, unsaid and waiting. I just know that I want to hear everything she ever wanted to say, if only she'll say it, to me.
She’s looking at me now. I have to go.