There, Chapter 2
I fall in love on occasion. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it happens like an exploding camera flash. When you know, you know, I suppose. Or maybe, like photographs, love is merely a fictionalized representation of a thing, or more of an idea, really. Maybe I just get infatuated. I don’t know. I’m just thinking…
I met a girl recently called Camille. It was at Berghain, the classic Berlin temple. I was standing in Panorama Bar with Michael. We were drinking Club Mates, bobbing our heads, people-watching. I saw her in passing while in the midst of chasing other girls — women — lamenting these inane moments and my aimless lust, so rarely affixed on someone of genuine substance. Our eyes connected for just a split second, but that first sight expanded in my mind like a firework. It’s like I memorized her face in that one brief moment; it became imprinted on my soul or something, her gaze like a graceful gazelle caught in my headlights, her eyes beaming bright.
Time passed like the music and fluids and chemicals through my body. Michael and I danced, swaying with the relaxed beat through the night. She stayed on my mind and I wondered if I was imagining things. Then I saw her again — she wasn’t an apparition. Her hair wisped in the electric air, her torso swaying like poetry. It was the quickest thing, but I knew I could adore her, like I knew her so deeply already. I made it my mission to find her, to make the connection concrete.
She danced with friends on the main floor. I danced next to them to the hard techno music. I didn’t push it, didn’t bumble my way with overt aggression. The music was dark and intense and I could easily get lost in it, feel my own joy and display my independence. I slowly inched toward her, moved closer to her movements, synching my motion to her rhythm, glimpsing her slyly, keeping distance but closing it. I wanted to stare but I held back, wanted to hug her and kiss her but of course didn’t. Fools rush in. We eyed each other again and again. Her looks varied: a smile, a scowl, a furtive vulnerability, a dark mystery. Fascinating, it seemed, that someone so light could contain such darkness. She was apprehensive — I could sense it. But I smiled, I played coy, I ignored; I tried to communicate to her that I was interested but not desperate, didn’t need anything but could entertain her company. Eventually we exchanged words, slowly built a rapport with conversation. Like some sort of miracle, we moved from the dance floor away from her friends and upstairs for some coffee, actually talking.
That night was interesting. I told her typical first-date stuff: that I’m from New York, living in Berlin just a few months, a video artist, trying to show work in galleries. She said less but seemed curious. One thing she said was how I seemed dishonest, that I was just spinning stories. I was confused by the context. I guess I just seemed like one big pick-up line. That hurt me and I wonder why she said it. She had no reservations in being so coldly direct. And now I question if that’s what I am, or what my deal is, really.
Nonetheless we ended up leaving together. I rode the train with her to Prenzlauer Berg and we ate croissants on a park bench in the sunny winter morning. She put her head on my shoulder and we sat in peace as the sun rose, the sky brightening, the birds chirping, the whole scene so full of serenity. In that moment I would have married her, gotten a proper job, started a family, made her every promise. My smile stretched from one ear to the other as I felt her shape in my emptiness. Then we parted ways without even a kiss.
“What a nice night, and perfect sunrise,” I later texted.
“Ja stimmt,” she said.
We met up again the other weekend. We went to hear live music at an art party. We talked, we danced, we smiled and laughed. I could feel something. At the end of the night we joined her friends somewhere and got a döner, like she made sure to arrange it, keeping a safe distance or something. Again we parted ways without kissing.
Why not? Why isn’t this quite happening? I can feel her ambivalence. I’m sure I overthink things. I wonder how to best present myself, how to best proceed, what to talk about, where to go, what I could invite her to and how we can fall in love. I’d love for us to go to the movies, for us to be that couple on the screen. Really I just want her to like me. I’m sure she sees right through me — my lunging love for the idea of us. I wonder how much she wants to see me and I’m sure it’s not as much. I can feel her somehow slipping, her interest waning. But I keep a quite optimism. We still message. I’ll keep holding on. Don’t try and stop me.