When I first met her, she could only smoke cigarettes when she sat down. If she stood up, her legs would start hurting and she’d get sick to the point where she’d throw up. She told me she never took a job she liked, or studied a subject that interested her, because she was afraid to lose the things she loved if she wasn’t free to chose whether or not to do them. She always saw straight through someone, uncovering their value from the moment she laid eyes on them. She’d study the movements of their eyes, the way they held their hands when they didn’t use them, how they chose their words or didn’t. I suppose that’s part of the reason why people didn’t like her, or were afraid of her.
She wanted all or nothing. I guess that’s why she didn’t start studying for her exams until it was nearly too late. She left her hometown and settled in another continent, just to be closer the people she loved. It was easier that way. It was like she was cupping her hands, holding water without letting it slip out between her fingers, but she had to keep her eyes closed and follow her intuition: if she opened them, she would see the water, she would see how it constantly threatened to spill and drip and disappear, and she’d slip. She knew the water was there, but she could at no cost look at it. She never had a boyfriend. “I just don’t need anyone to feel better, not at the moment.” Her room mates said she’d come home after school and sit in her room the rest of the day, only coming out every once in a while to smoke on the balcony. I don’t think she even considered getting a boyfriend, but I can’t decide if it was because she was scared of being hurt, or losing a love, or changing herself.
Some people are like ships, and other people are like the lighthouses, guiding the lost and cold ones to a safe port. A ship is not complete without having been lost. A lost lighthouse, on the other hand, is a more rare sight. She told me one night at the balcony, four glasses of red wine under the belt and a full blown party going on inside, that she felt like she was thirty years old already. “I mean, I’m barely twenty one years old, but I’ve already moved to four differenct cities after I left home, I’ve slept with eleven different guys, I’ve been to the Louvre and the Ghetty and the Tate and that queen’s museum in Madrid and god knows how many others. I feel so fucking established.” She said she’d get dizzy when she sat down, feeling like the earth was spinning too fast and she was caught up in the inertial afterdrag, like when the subway is leaving the station and everyone sort of tips over.
Her favorite places were airports. “You have to sit and wait. Pause your life. You’re going to do only one thing, and that is sit and wait, get on your plain, sit and wait again. I especially love it when you’re in the air, ‘cause you’re completely unreachable up there. I like the risk, as well, you know. Everytime you get on a plane, you’ll either survive and live on, or you’ll die. It’s fifty fifty. Such a delight.” She didn’t like to discuss books, or movies, or art, which she loved most of all. She barely shared her music, and when she did, she mentioned artists she listened to when she was fifteen, because that was when people started to ask her about music and she kept her answers. She went to concerts alone. She also went to the movies alone, she drank in bars alone. I heard she had an affair with a married father of four once, in Brussels. Some director in the european union bureaucratics. Her room mates mentioned it once on the balcony, and she just smiled, laughed muffled and looked down at her cigarette. It’s been four months since she left the city. I’m sad that I can’t enjoy the privilege of being welcome in her company, but I’ve got to admit it, I’m also relieved as hell.