I met Olivia in Berlin, shortly after I arrived to the city without any precise plan. The spring had just started to give hints and I was not so impressed with the city, although I trusted good references that I received and was carried away by the outlook of new adventures in this place overflowed with history that was becoming more popular among young Germans. I had never imagined that the following months would be the best months of my life. Also that afterwards the worst ones were to come, that would continue up to now.
I think of Berlin every day, no matter what I do. Every little thing in present refers to that period and it converts to such a futile and inescapable comparison. I remember walking the 17th of June Street that goes through Tiergarten in my red shoes, worn jeans and curly hair that was growing freely, just like my beard. Alone, or holding hands with Olivia, looking each other completely in love. I couldn’t believe (I still can’t) to have been in that place, living that experience. It seems a piece of fiction; and just like all of them, it also had its end.
I knew that Olivia was all I needed since the first moment I saw her. She was from the US, spoke strikingly clear English and her Spanish was very good. Tall, of athletic body and blonde hair, she liked to wear a braid. She also had a big flower tattoo over a bigger part of her back extending in branches up to her right leg and left shoulder.
With time I confirmed what I had been guessing. Her genuine freedom that needed no discourses, her spontaneous and repeated smile, her calm and optimistic spirit, her romantic clarity to understand the important. And there was something more, that was to condition our whole relationship and, even more, my whole life: Olivia preferred women.
This made me a privileged and the topic was an inexhaustible source of conversations and playing. Walking down the street, Olivia was my girlfriend but also my best friend, a combination that promised an instability that at the end was never showing up. We found in women a shared passion and we learnt to grow together our desires for them, which of course included the seduction and the conquest. Olivia could never explain me why she had chosen me, something that at the end didn’t interest us much. Sometimes the truth cannot be explained.
The connection that we managed to grow was wonderful. Our shared life was flowing naturally, we laughed often and we innocently enjoyed our extensive intimate moments, such as playing in the grass of some park (when the Sun would decide to appear) or staying in bed, alternating in the reading aloud of our favourite texts with healthy exercise of love. Almost nothing worried us and problems that once seemed important fell in the category where they should have remained forever: the insignificant. We had a relationship destined to last forever, that is to say, an impossible relationship.
After insisting for some days, I gave in to show Olivia how we “porteños” approach women, an unusual practice in Germany and United States. We used to do it at any moment and in any place: in the square, in a bar or in the street, in the most shameless, amusing and direct way. The open-mindedness of Berlin women (what we could spread to the whole North Europe) made it a lot easier to hit on them, if done in a smart way. The convenient indemnity of “being a latino” was adding to this and also the benefits of being “from Buenos Aires” that not only evoked a far, exotic and a passionate place, but it also sounded simply well to foreigners.
When we wanted to pass from just having fun to concrete results, certain night places showed to be especially effective in the hour for seduction. Our favourite place was Möbel Olfe, a bar situated few meters from the station Kottbusser Tor and very close to our apartment. It was a popular meeting place for all those of unconventional sexual preferences. The ambience was very warm and it had a great predisposition for a good conversation, our strongest point, so it was unusual (and disappointing) if we would end the night going alone from there.
In a short time, Möbel Olfe became our second home. We would come early to “adapt” to the place, choosing a comfortable location, taking our time and drinking a cocktail until we would be a part of the ambience. Tables were small, round and tall, made for standing, and from there we would carefully observe each woman entering the bar, awaiting for the appearance of our choice, a moment in which we would start to move as quick as possible. One of us would come closer (for example, the favoured one by a look) and the other one would keep the table and give gestural support from the distance. The invitation had to be friendly but bold, and our intentions had to be very clear from the start. When we had bad luck we would enjoy our conversation, laughing and learning from the lost case. And we would always try again.
It was unlikely that a woman coming to our table wouldn’t end up with us in the apartment. Collaboration was stressing our individual attractions and the alcohol would take away any doubts that could come in a way of our eventual companion. The kiss, as always, was the most important moment (and the one I enjoyed the most) and, of course, it was reserved for the one who would achieve a better connection. Within our cooperative seduction, this was the only playful competition that we allowed, but once fulfilled, the kiss of one would open a door to the kiss of the other one. Sometimes we would delay the moment just for the pleasure, and this delay became the first foreplay of what was about to come.
I can’t remember anymore all women that we met in Möbel Olfe, although it’s impossible to forget some of them like Ingrid, Sofia, Juliane, Emma or Sandra with whom we shared unforgettable moments. But it was remarkable that all these experiences happened in a perfect harmony and complicity with Olivia, whom I deeply loved.
The obscurity was giving consistency to our relationship and was opening the door to a paradise where insecurities or jealousy seemed to be very weird feelings. The more we would surrender to the risk of other women, our connection was becoming stronger. Just like an acrobatic couple, we would expose ourselves to the danger of big jumps with full confidence.
As we moved the limits of our adventure, I could understand that sometimes to set oneself free it’s necessary to seek what we’re afraid of. The attraction, the risk and even the rejection were feeding our excitement and were breathing life into our relationship. New women were exempting us from the lethal threat of love routine and they turned out to be an effective and unexpected solution, opening a path to a future free of any obstacle.
However, nothing is forever and our love, just like any other, was condemned to end. But we were also condemned to play our part and as it is common with the endings (especially those inevitable) we wouldn’t accept what was about to happen. First we would ignore it (just like up to this moment) and then we would resist it.
When Rosalia entered Möbel Olfe, I had never imagined that her attractive appearance was hiding the inevitable. I knew by her moves that she was latina (her copper skin, her natural movements, the expressive look) and, judging her playful smile, she realized the same from me. And maybe she realized even more than that. Olivia and I chose her immediately, so without any doubt I went to seek her and in just few minutes Rosalia was talking and laughing with us.
Beneath the conversation, the connection was becoming more and more intense and unlike on other occasions there were no breaks or interruptions. We all could sense it, but only became restless when the phenomenon broke the borders to which life had accustomed us, feeling a weird discomfort that, however, made us want even more. Our visages were transfiguring in expressions we had never seen before, and we reached the point where we didn’t see faces anymore, but just souls. The looks were burning and the bodies, out of control, were pushing to get closer, until they loosened and we kissed with an anxiety that soon became urgency. A moment later, between nails and tears, we left the place.
It was Friday night and in the apartment there was food, wine and especially desire in excess. We loved with exaggeration and without rest. We only managed to stop, exhausted, on Sunday. Rosalia left (forever) in the morning and we did the same in the afternoon, completely lost, to walk in silence along the cold coast of River Spree.
The highest point is also the first point of the fall. Rosalia was the name of this Point and we were never again able to get over her interruption in our lives. Something very fragile, that we couldn’t understand, had broken hopelessly, although it didn’t make sense to admit it or to confess it. However, the essential, what nests in the depth of our soul is something we cannot decide: it emerges and ends up overtaking.
The mutual incomprehension appeared for the first time in our lives, in almost imperceptible ways, and it kept growing until it possessed everything, despite (or maybe with its help) of our resistance. Differences that we had always ignored, escalated absurdly and became harsh fights. Reconciliations were becoming shorter and we gave up to the suicidal temptation of judging ourselves heartlessly. The patient dissatisfaction was besieging us and after few weeks of free fall, our story came to end.
The complete distance saved us from the storm of feelings. I spent weeks between lying depressed in my bed and taking each time shorter walks in the city seeking answers that could make me go on.. The anxiety overtook my chest and there was no cry that could get it out. I almost couldn’t eat. The atmosphere of desolation was completed with the arrival of a winter as raw as indifferent. In a very short time, my life in Berlin, the beautiful city that I thought I had loved, became a hell.
I was in a dangerous tramp, from which I desperately tried to escape. I changed habits, visited postponed places and started new relationships, such a rational as well as useless sources that only helped to accelerate the drowning. I was scared. I used my last breath of fresh air to move to Genoa. Some irrelevancies, such as the Sun, the food and the beauty of nearby villages, saved my life. But the essences remained unalterably bad.
I thought about coming back to Berlin, but it was no longer possible. I thought about seeking Olivia and Rosalia, but I could never find them. I thought about forgetting everything, but what sense it makes to think about the impossible?
After several months, I came back to Buenos Aires (from where I endlessly remember this story) searching my modest past, that I believed to be happy. Surrounded by pain and finesses, I couldn’t have been in a better place. But there’s no cure for the ghosts of Olivia and Rosalia that still haunt me. Everything seems insufficient.
Contrary to what I have always thought, now I leave the sources of happiness to dwell outside of me, and thus I accept my own condemn. The internal happiness is convenient, but unreal. It’s secure, but also limited. Seeking the real happiness is actually seeking the misfortune.
It’s spring and for one moment, the delicate warmth of the Sun is calming me. Far from the noise, sitting on a bench with a view over the misunderstood Rio de la Plata, I ask myself if the extraordinary justifies the high price of the senseless.
Translation by Branka Milisic
Original version (in spanish)