(where Luca ‘played’ again with my text)
When it comes to my writing, my phrases are short and – it seems to me at least – sometimes lacking colour; at least on the blog, that is. But when I’m chatting online with a guy I like… You should see our conversations – now they ARE colourful – in EVERY sense of the word! Like a game that I win by a walkover! Sophie 44, cute guy 2. Translation: for every word he types, I type at least 22. Incredible! A small victory perhaps, but to me so much more. Literary snobbery? Maybe; but I’m good with it. At least for now.
But if I am so articulate in that context, then what’s so complicated about arranging my thoughts coherently in the blog? They run all the time, like trains (on time!) but without brakes, morphing into neat little phrases, like boxcars shunted into a railway siding, ready for their next literary journey.
I have just found out that I have to go to Johannesburg on business. Now I’m trying to find the right words with which to give Luca the big news.
He’s almost catatonic in the black armchair. I stand in front of him. He’s so incredibly attractive, I could cry. He hasn’t trimmed his beard for days. His face reminds me of a dense forest, pierced only by twin shafts of light from an unseen sun, the light behind his bright blue eyes. What is it with me and blue-eyed men? The Freudian experts would say it’s because of my father. I would happily shoot them all; even though I’m a pacifist! My opinion? I think it’s all wrapped up in my memories of Tony; my first boyfriend. He was the smartest bastard I’ve ever known, and before he’d started drinking, and not giving a damn about himself, he was also the most beautiful man in the world! But back to Luca…
I wish I could do something to get him out of this depression. The only time he gets up from that damn armchair is when Lara comes by and he wants to impress her with his cooking.
‘I have to go to Johannesburg’. A bolt from the blue; no mercy.
‘What do you mean; you have to go to Johannesburg?’
All of a sudden, he seems alive. If he had shaved, I might have seen him blushing. I can almost sense his heartbeat increasing as he’s drunk what seems like a dozen Red Bulls. And, for the first time in a long time, he looks me in the eyes with an expression I can only read as genuine interest. I hold my breath in that second; any real interest from him would only trigger an existential panic – that fear of fear itself, lying dormant somewhere inside me, but always lurking, ready to erupt and ruin the moment, motivated by nothing more profound than its own intrinsic spitefulness, conspiring to rob me of the experience of genuine happiness. God how I hate it! How I hate myself, because it’s a part of me. My dark Siamese twin. Love and hate. Inextricably entwined forever.
Perhaps his reaction is simply the anticipation of a week of solitude; though honestly our living together doesn’t seem to yield too much in the way of benefit for either of us. Most of the time he remains mute and I deliberately ignore him, our communication taking on the qualities of something seen through fogged lenses – partial, incomplete, hinting at a whole greater than the visible: you don’t talk to me, I don’t talk to you, you don’t look at me, I try not to look at you, you cook only stuff you know I cannot eat, I go out and eat with Darren. And so on, and so forth.
I had to tell him about my business trip, though, and I have to admit, it was a little bit of a blow below the belt. He had told me once that he couldn’t sleep alone in the house, and I had promised him I would never leave him alone. A pretty childish deal on reflection, looking back on it now I wonder why I wasn’t stronger then, why did I feel the need to placate him by making an agreement that I would inevitably break in the future?
Nevertheless, he knows my job requires a lot of travelling, and, given his typical indifference, I would have assumed my leaving would have left him unmoved. So why does he seem so irrationally nervous?
He stands up, goes to the kitchen and pours himself a glass of Johnny Walker.
‘You want some?’ he asks curtly.
We drink in silence.
‘When are you leaving?’
‘On the 12th.’
‘So… the day after tomorrow.’
He finishes his drink and pours himself another. I refuse his offer of a second. I need to stay sober. Weirdly it feels like we’re negotiating a life and death issue, and I am unsure why. Such a drama over a business trip to South Africa! Is it real or imagined? Perhaps it’s only what the black crow of doubt that has darkened my days lately wants me to believe.
‘For how long?’ He asks, sounding only vaguely interested.
Suddenly, I don’t feel like continuing the conversation, why do I owe him any sort of explanation? He just needs to deal with it…or get the hell out!
I browse the news feeds on Facebook, and turn on the chat, hoping the CF guy is online. He isn’t. I log out, call Darren and invite him for some Thai food at Ibn Battuta.
As I leave for the mall Luca is back in the armchair, sipping his third JW and breathing heavily. I don’t need this. This man is NOT important to me!
The food court is not very busy and we find an empty table with light blue chairs. Darren is relaxed as always, and we each order our favourite dishes: mine is the green curry chicken, his is the red. We talk about our jobs, which we love to do, but I must appear distracted.
‘What’s wrong? You had a fight with Luca?’ Darren asks.
‘I told him about my trip to South Africa.’
‘He’s a big boy, he can take care of himself!’
I find his repeated ‘ohs’ annoyingly tedious. I change tack and ask him more about his project. He launches into a detailed description encompassing the construction site, electrical amplifiers, cables, project leaders who don’t make it to the morning meetings on time, crazy drivers who would make 175 km in just over an hour – a whole different level of tedious – but it does the trick; helping me unwind, forget and, hopefully, setting me up for a good night’s sleep.
My catch-ups with Darren are always fun, we hold each other in mutual, although unspoken, high regard. Thankfully his fiancée is comfortable with the time we spend together. Darren and I have common interests and often talk about running or trance music. I have been trying to persuade him to come with me to London, for the ABGT 050, knowing in advance that he won’t.
My phone rings. It’s Luca. I mute it; don’t really want to talk with him right now. But Darren’s expression, something like: ‘come on, cut the crap, just talk to the man’, makes me relent.
Luca’s voice is calm, devoid of emotion.
I finish my food, excuse myself and go home. Why? An hour before I wouldn’t have given a shit if I never saw Luca again. He could have turned up dead in a gutter and I wouldn’t have cared. What is this power he has over me? Why am I so weak around him? Damn him!
Darren hates me for leaving early, of course. He likes to linger after the meal, have an ice-cream, talk about that lady in HR who drives him crazy! But I know he’ll get over it. He always does…and so do I.