We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.
- HH The Dalai Lama
Hanging above my bed is a wide lens poster called “Il Bacio, Venezia, Italia“, which translates to “The Kiss, Venice, Italy“. It struck me as particularly beautiful, in that it captures a moment of perpetual romantic bliss, that seems a World away from where I’m from. Much like Parisian Photographer, Robert Doisneau’s photographs of loved-up couples and passionate moments, I do not know who the two lovers embracing in the centre of the picture are, and that (to me) is irrelevant. Their names and their ages and their birthplaces and everything else that makes up who they are, is unimportant. The subject of the photo, is the beauty of the kiss. The moment itself, must have been fleeting, a second or two, but it has been immortalised on film. Her leg cropped back, as if she has completely submitted herself to the moment. He, wearing black, she wearing white, their arms linked created the image in my head, of the YinYang of Taoist fame; two opposing entities that are forever together and unable to exist without each other. Hot, cold. Day, night. Male, female. Him, her. It exists everywhere. The Trevi Fountain in day is covered in tourists, and businessmen on phones, taking pictures, missing the point of the beauty and sense the fountain is supposed to create. The Trevi Fountain at night is splashed in golden lights, enjoyed by a handful of couples enjoying each others company, and rose sellers completing the experience. Here where I live, that same time of night, around our City centre fountain is either home to a boyfriend holding his girlfriend’s hair back whilst she vomits, or a drunken fight, opposite Maryland Chicken (which is the worst chicken place in the history of life, by the way). The YinYang affect.
The location of the picture; Venice, is also significant. Like Paris, or Rome, or Milan, or Monaco… Venice has a certain intrinsic Continental romance and beauty about it, that seems somewhat elusive to Britain. And like the YinYang… whilst I see in “Il Bacio” an almost film-like fleeting romantic European moment, I must have a sense of the opposite, in order to find it so appealing.
Having just started my Degree, at almost 24 years old, is a rather eye opening experience. I’m studying, because I want to study, I want to learn, rather than satisfying a parents expectation, or because I feel pushed into it. School always felt like I was being taught subjects I had no real interest in, and so I just didn’t care. It’s different now.
On a social level, it’s also different. I have no desire to be out nightly making sure my liver is pushed to the test. I’m very much an introvert as it is, and so a good film and some friendly company is more than enough to make me smile. I seriously can’t keep up in clubs now. I feel like an old man after a couple of hours….. I want to say “Can someone turn that shit down please?” whilst making myself a cup of tea. I’m convinced that the most depressing phrase in the English language, is “Are you coming out tonight? some guy from X Factor is at Zanzibar!!!“.
Similarly, the University life style includes a certain level of promiscuity that as an 18 year old, attracted me like a moth to a flame. Different girls, with quickly forgotten names and faces, to make the nights roll by. That was the seductive nature (from where I come from, anyway) of University. We hated school. Why would we want three more years of it, without the mellifluous promise of evening entertainment.
Being older, and at University, has changed my perspective more than I ever thought it would. The idea of meaningless encounters, having been there and done that, speaks very little to me all of a sudden. Not in the sense that I suddenly look down on that sort of thing. I don’t. My philosophy on sex, has always been……. as long as it’s not hurting anyone, go for it! I certainly will never resort to insulting someone, just because they enjoy casual encounters. It is just that my own personal preference changed quite significantly recently, which has worked only to confuse me magnificently. I worked out that my own slightly promiscuous past was the result of my horrendous desire to feel wanted. I have spent the past six months going on date, after date in an attempt to figure out what it is I want. And i’m only human, I have my flaws and my insecurities. One of which, as already mentioned, is my need to feel wanted. Which, I accept is disastrously arrogant of me. But, on a deeper level, feeling wanted does not just resign itself to intimate encounters with nameless blonde haired brown haired black haired blue eyed green eyed tall short thin fat women from nowhere and everywhere, it’s a need to feel that as I person, my existence is not completely pointless, or absurd (blame Camus and Sartre for my assumptions on absurdity).
I do miss having someone to talk about my day with, or to cook with. I miss affection. I miss the feeling of not remembering how life existed without that person. I miss watching a film together, or becoming addicted to a TV show with or play fighting with. I miss planning holidays together. I miss spending weeks before her birthday trying to figure out what she wants and panicking right up until the last minute that she might not like it. I miss it all, especially the bond which certainly doesn’t exist with one nighters. But, in the search for that lasting feeling again, the tendency to let my guard down has crept in, which has never happened before. I discovered in the past couple of months, that I have a fickle heart, in that a simple smile from a beautiful girl gleamed in my direction, has the ability to make me think I’m in some sort of romantic comedy in which we’re going to end up happily married together by the end of the movie.
My great worry is that I that I’ll end up just settling for the first person who shows interest. I do not want to end up like the couple who don’t trust each other. Or the couple who ban each other from talking to exes. Or the couple who claim to love each other within a few days of getting together. It is extraordinarily rare that I meet a couple who appear to actually belong together, often my instant reaction in my mind is quite pessimistically: “they wont last long“. This feeling of rarity affects my own life. It’s incredibly rare for me to see someone, and smile simply because they’re there. I’m constantly dating people I know just don’t suit me, or maybe it’s my fussy nature finding flaws. Either way, when someone comes along who appears to suit me, I find it relatively incredulous, am taken aback, and not sure how to act. And whilst i’m normally confident (seriously, I love me!) I tend to go quiet in the knowledge that if I say very little, there is very little chance of saying something stupid; although often this backfires and the very little I do say, ends up making the voice in my head tell me “yeah, you probably should have just said nothing….moron!”.
Letting the guard down, and maybe becoming far more attached to someone than I might have hoped, is not necessarily a bad thing. If things don’t turn out how I would have liked, rather than cry, or listen to depressing music about lost loves, I choose to learn from it and move on, making sure I don’t make the same mistake again. But, it’s new to me. It’s rather peculiar and impalpable to me, and yet oddly desirable.
Whether we’re the guarded alpha-male type, or in tune with our emotional desires, we are not all that different. We all desire to be loved. I challenge anyone to see “Il Bacio” and not feel slightly envious.