After some beer, I decided that I must go out, that I could not stand being here any more, that I needed to see le monde. I walked, along the river, and stopped only when I passed the royal palace, where I managed to find a place on the quay. And as soon as I sat down and lit a cigarette I saw a boy, likely an orphan. His skin dark, his hair short, and he wore a white coat. He took a coconut from the dustbin nearby, shook it to check if there was any juice left, then he licked the top, and after a moment he took a straw also from the bin, and drank, his face motionless. I thought our lives converged in that very moment. And in minutes, he left. I looked around but could not find his trace, only the dried coconut left.
Some day I will miss my life here, sitting on the balcony, drinking and wandering my eyes from the trees, the bougainvilea bush to the post office, to the sky. I wondered why I was always at ease every time I was by a riverside. A monk came and sat right where the boy had left, talking on his phone. Across the river stood, perhaps, the most luxurious hotel in town. The boat floated away, on its numerous well-off passengers, mostly foreigners. Above my head, the flag of Portugal was flying in the wind. Years from now, memories of these days might have been well broken like discrete mosaics of a never-finished picture of my past.
How many times have I imagined Patrick would be dead on his way to meet me.
Spots of light were playing on the cloudy sky, against Sufjan Stevens’ Mystery of Love.
The young tourist guy stood with, let’s say maybe his boyfriend, and a local tour guide, who was pointing at the post office, talking something that could well be his story about the place, everything of his reminded me of Daniel, his bag, his legs, his figure, his shadow under the scorching sun, his reluctance.
I kept staring at the red wall of the opposite building, birds jumping on branches of the tree outside. I thought about those who had lived here before me and those who would live after I left. Dans la grande melancholie, I watched the dusk falling.
In high school, with no mobile phones and almost no Internet, we would come to a phone booth with a prepaid card to call home and we would write letters, heaps of letters. I would lie on my berth in the dorm room, and I would wait for winter nights to pass me by.
… At the beach nearly a year ago, I would have been singing A la claire fontaine, as I was doing now, in the grand house.
I had dinner at Armand’s near the Old Market in my neighbourhood, which I enjoyed with happiness. Maybe partly because my heart had long yearned for happiness. I rained hard when I reached home… I thought about all the men with whom I had affairs, both in long-term relationships and flings, what they said to me now I could only recall in my own voice. The rain reminded me of my childhood summers, when it would be raining hard like this, and of those times I went out with Patrick. It finally abated, as every rain, and as every love, and the night was silent, disturbed only by occasional motorbicycles passing by.
Everything was ephemeral like the the smoke I poured out. The sound of water pattering on the roof of the opposite building was ringing out in my mind.
One more drink and I would go to sleep.
When I washed away the dry semen on my belly from the masturbation the night before and my sweat and all the tiny dust from this city on my body at night, my memories of him were fading, so was my burning desire for him. I have come to embrace my loneliness which gave me tranquility though I have been still thinking about him and speculating about all that could have happened. Scattered white cloud scudded against the velvet of the dark blue sky, then gone. Stars and the moon lit brightly.
When I finished my last cigarette or my first one of a new day, breezes moved up the trash on the street.
Early in the morning, I woke up to find a butterfly had landed on the floor, immobile, his wings so delicate, as a thin paper. I took some pictures of him, and it was not a few days later did I knew that he died on the same spot, perhaps out of tiredness, of his life, that I wondered.
I thought, in retrospect, that one year before, at this time, I could not imagine that my three-year relationship with Thomas would end, and that, even in my wildest dreams, that I have come so close to Patrick, not to mention that I slept with him, through the long rainy nights. I had not given him a thought, though we saw each other every day. At the end of the day, we could anticipate nothing. Rien du tout.
On the morning of the last day of the year, Patrick texted me to tell me that he had had a dengue fever that confined him in bed for ten days, and that he had yet to check his postal box, and so he had not seen my postcard. And we spent the first half of the day talking, about Call me by your name the movie he had recently watched, and almost everything about him during the time I was not in S. I resorted to all my willpower not to tell him where I was, that in the letter I had sent him three weeks before I had invited him to come to visit me during the festive days, which by the time had certainly become disillusion.
On New Year Eve, right at midnight, when two hands of the clock on the façade of the post office seen from my window reached twelve both, a fifteen minute fireworks display began, which, as I was engrossed in reading, had mistaken as a terrorist bomb exploded, because it was so loud that it shook my apartment. It was the first time I have been so close to fireworks that I could even smell the gunpowder in the air. All the previous years in my life, I would always be disheartened by the claustrophobic scenario of jostling around in a crowd to watch such a show that I would prefer staying at my home, and watching whatever I could. Now I know what it meant to have the best balcony in town, in the extent that you could enjoy the show alone, which brought me both excitement and serenity. Children kept playing with their firecrackers until very late at night. And I lay in my bed, and recalled my childhood, in which we had enjoyed firecrackers too before it was banned by the authorities. And the memory took me back as far as we would shout with unconcealed excitement every time a plane flew by…
Earlier in the day, I had thought I would write down these notes and publish them on my blog before the new year came, because I had always set time at Greenwich, which was seven hours after my own, so I always procrastinated, superstitiously and mean-spiritedly thinking that I would have more seven hours, though not too much, before a day ended. And when I sat before my computer and started typing, it must well be the new year, even in Buenos Aires or Santiago de Chile, probably the westernmost cities I dreamed I would live in one day, or even in the far away islands in the Pacific Ocean. I have seven hours behind my back, I had thought.
And so a new year comes.