“I would like to travel the world with you twice. Once, to see the world. Twice, to see the way you see the world.”
A quiet evening snuggled under a toasty Naoussa blanket. You legs gently squirming on top of mine. Feet propped up on the birch wood coffee table. Toes dangling in fuzzy wool socks in front of a warm crackling fire. That was your dream for a little bit of heaven in our future. A time to laugh, love and live. Cherished memories to last a lifetime. Memories of a lifetime worth living.
Below our feet lays a thick brown textile covered album weathered from time and enjoyment. Like running a fine piece of sand paper over a polished concrete floor. The corners of each page tattered and darkened from being turned so many times and from reliving so many memories. Slowly and deliberately peeling back each page, watching history and dreams unfold. Like a pop up storybook, each page tells it’s own shimmering story. Every picture on every page is its own chapter in the novel of our time together.
Sitting beside each other outside a small corner Parisian bistro. Savory gooey chocolate croissants and sweet white wine. Gazing over the Pont de Arts with its shiny and bedazzled locks reflecting the sun like miniature pieces of stained glass. A whirling kaleidoscope of colors of amore built over a decade of couple’s romantic pilgrimages to the mecca of love. Squinting in the glare of the suns glow towards the frowning gargoyles eerily gazing down from of Notre Dame.
A fluffy deep blue and white blanket we tossed across the sandy beach. A bamboo and leather picnic basket lovingly filled with local treats. The warm turquoise waters of the Argolic Gulf gently lapping at our toes. Dark sweet fig juice slowly dripping down your chin onto your smooth olive skin. The sun shining brightly on the rustic parapets of Bourtzi castle. The rays dancing on the shiny and shimmering sea. An old treasure of your lifetime and a new one of mine.
The sound of gently crushed limestone rock and sand beneath our sandals in the Coliseum. The ghostly feeling that thousands have walked and marveled here before us. The mystic smell of oil and sweat and blood as the breeze rolls across the marble columns and archways. The distant sound of gladiators and legionnaires and the roar of the Roman mob. You can feel the history unfolding before us. Fear from an uncivilized past brings goosebumps to your skin. Your hand reaching out to mine to steady us in the present.
Perched above the Pacific ocean suspended in a tree top resort overlooking the gentle waves of the Pacific. The sun slowly drifting down over the horizon, painting the sky in a watercolor of purples and pinks. Blue iridescent morpho butterflies as large as a cat dancing of the dark veiny green leaves of the jungle. The placid feel of tranquility and peace as we put our feet up together on the tree top railing with the sun retreating and the mist rising over the ocean. The taste of sweet purple berries fresh from the jungle. The wafting smell of gallitos and tapioca cooking on the charcoal fire.
The gray concrete roadway stretching out before us as we ride side by side towards the desert mountains ahead. The heat slowly rising dances like a mirage is on the horizon. The peloton miles long, snaking like a giant centipede towards the snowcapped peaks ahead . A population of road bikes as numerous as a small city, surging forward together towards the low hanging cirrus clouds in the distance. Bright multicolored hot air balloons rising in the west and gliding along the gentle pathways of wind on their journey. The sound of thousands of bike chains churning in unison towards the hills ahead.
Hiking the boot worn hills around the perimeter of Cinque Terra hand in hand. Kelly green brush and trees carpeting the mountainsides. The bright primary colored abodes interwoven across each sleepy seaside village. Small white fishing vessels tossing like child’s toys in the warm azure waters of the Ligurian Sea. The eternal temptation of fresh fish cooking on the trattoria rustic steel grill. Small morsels of warm native Italian bread dissolving in olive oil like manna from heaven. Soft chunks of white buffalo mozzarella cut into delectable bite size pieces.
Wrapped tightly together in a brown bearskin blanket, cradling steaming cups of tea while perched on newly chiseled Kemian blocks of ice. Wolves howling their lonely and silent cries in the distant background from the forest and frozen tundra. Small clouds of white whirling from the humidity of our breath in the chilly night air. Gazing up into the starry night sky, the Northern lights rippling across the sky like an iridescent flag furrowing in the wind. Our own private technicolor light show.
Grasping the riggings together of a huge canary yellow catamaran gently rolling up and down in the base wells of the teal waters of Higgs Beach. Synced to the rhythm of the gentle swells. A veritable sea of bathing suits, Hawaiian shirts, palm trees and parrot heads. Thousand of fins to the left and the right. The ever sweet and pungent smell of coconut oil and suntan lotion. The soft seductive pings of the steel drum. Thousands of cheeseburgers in paradise and margaritas by the truck load.
The perfection of new powder supporting the gentle sounds of gliding and swooshing through soft snow. Topping one of the summits side by side with the rumbling of the packed red gondola zipping above our heads. Water slowly melting on the dark evergreen branches and dripping steadily to form a sheet of ice at our feet like mini glaciers. The scent of burning cedar and oak from the splintered log cabin up the next hill.
The photos on the tattered pages of memories are the tactile proof of the vivid pictures tucked away in our minds. Etched in permanence and part of the fabric of who we are. And who we dreamed we would be. Just as Gulliver had his imaginary adventurous travels, so ours were meant to take us to corners of the globe and parts of this planet we could only imagine.
I pick up the album, dust off the cover, and lift back the first few pages. The corners are not worn, and the pages are all blank, except one. The future we dreamed of and the future that unfolded are completely different. There is only one photo of me, standing on the Palamidi hilltop, gazing down on serenity and majesty of the birthplace of civilization. I am here as I promised I would be, but we are not here as we promised each other we would be. Your sweaty palm hand in hand with mine in the balmy Mediterranean sun has been replaced by my finger slowly wiping away one drop from my cheek. The bright warmth of the future has been usurped by the cold and dark reality of the present. The album of our time together is empty.