I walk the streets of Ljubljana one last time. It’s never easy to leave a place that’s made an impression, particularly as you get older. Eventually the days behind outnumber the ones ahead. The brevity of life and the breath of the world are enough to understand the first time somewhere new could be the last. It’s a realization not dismal, but freeing. Nothing is trivial and permission is granted to lose yourself in a way home doesn’t permit.
Nina and Ines, Slovenian sisters I met the night before, invite me to join them at Ljubljana Castle for Film Under the Stars. It’s an annual festival where movies from around the world are shown on an eight hundred year old courtyard. Communication with the girls has posed a problem, the fact neither of them own a smart phone the most pressing. Thankfully, I find it refreshing rather than frustrating.
I make my way up the hill where the fortress rests. It’s 7:45 pm, the movie will start soon. I walk around the vast green landscape surrounding the castle, taking mental snapshots of the winding trails, woods, and panoramic view of the city below. Dozens of people mill about, but without a sound. For a moment I feel as though I’m in an open abbey.
I cling to hope I’ll find the girls. Maybe I’ll see their bright white Vespa pull up in the lot nearby, or hear Ines’s distinct laugh — the kind you could hear at rock concert. Still, they’re nowhere to be found and there are choices to be made. I take my seat and watch as the courtyard quickly fills. The likelihood of finding them now as likely as seeing them ever again. I leave tomorrow.
Before I know it, the movie’s opening credits appear on the screen and for the first time I glance down at my ticket stub. It reads Captain Fantastic. The patio and café are packed. I’m half-convinced all of Ljubljana is here, even the girls.
I accept the rendezvous that wasn’t meant to be and allow the experience to unfold. I am here right now and someday I will not be. I take solace in the knowing my friends are here somewhere, sharing the moment underneath the same Slovenian sky. And that is enough.