Wish you were here

It’s dark now. The house is silent and he’s working on a project. He puts on a collection of his favourite music and he concentrates on his work.

Then, suddenly, he hears the first, unmistakable notes of “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd and he’s violently transported back into the past, many years ago, to the happy days when their paths had first crossed.

Falling in love

His first glimpse of her was at a cafe downtown in his native city, that of a tall, impressive girl, full of life and with a magnetic personality. She was smiling, animated, talking to everybody with the utmost ease – she seemed to belong there, even if she came from afar. Her eyes rested on him for a flickering moment, and then she looked away. Then they were properly introduced and talked for a long time, discovering many affinities and common interests.

He was immediately drawn to the fact that she was so passionate about many things: life in general, her own vision of life, her friends, her future career, his own city, her ambitions, love…he was attracted to her like a moth for a star.

She was spending a few days of holidays in his city, and used to come every summer with her family. This time, however, she was staying with the friend who had introduced them.

They saw each other often. On New Year’s Eve they went to the same party and danced together. Then the whole group went up to a mountain to see the first sunrise of the year and then, for the first time – of many – he dedicated a song to her. When “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd started to play in his car he couldn’t help himself and told her: “In a few days I’ll be saying this about you”. In the next minute he thought maybe he had been too forward, but she had simply smiled at him and enjoyed the music.

He invited her on a “proper” date and they went dancing to a night-club. They danced many slow songs, but he would never forget the moment when the band played “Classic“, by Adrian Gurvitz, and he felt her instinctively hold closer to him, and when he lowered his head he buried his nose in the perfume of her soft hair. To think he had never particularly liked that song…

Then he had finally kissed her, not one, but many, many times. And he discovered he was deeply, hopelessly, madly in love. And she told him she was, too. He was the happiest man on Earth.

In the distance

They soon had to part, but he wrote to her every day and she did the same. Soon his letters were full of drawings, small poems and beautiful words dedicated to her. On Easter holidays he went to her city to see her, and again they lived wonderful moments.

The following months were challenging as she did not live well with a long distance relationship. There was a former boyfriend always hovering around and he spent moments of anxiety. She was fiercely independent and, he knew, very honest and straightforward so she didn’t pretend: when she had doubts she told him frankly and for a while the flux of her letters diminished considerably.

Heaven

But then she came back for her summer holidays; she looked different, her hair was shorter but to him she was as attractive as ever. And then, tenderly yet passionately, he won her back, and they made love for the first time.

Never was there a happier time: they would meet every day after lunch and he would take her to see some of the most beautiful sceneries of his island; when they stood at the edge of a cliff looking at a breathtaking view he would stand behind her and put his arms around her chest and they would stay like that for a long time, filling themselves with the sun, the sea breeze and a tangible feeling of happiness; in some afternoons – when his house was empty- he would take her there and they would make love and he would hold her in his arms for hours, and they would talk about their dreams.

Most evenings they would go to bars with their friends and then dancing at their favourite nightclub, and she told him she loved the way he danced.

Then holidays were over, and she was back to her world and her doubts returned. When he finally joined her there, as he was now going to University, those doubts subsided and, one perfect day, she told him she was really committed to him, because she now knew he was the one she loved.

Months and years of happiness ensued. He found an apartment to share with two friends, a boy and a girl. He had his own room so she often came – skipping classes – and they spent the most glorious moments loving each other. As a matter of fact, the girl who lived there one day told him, displaying some sense of humour at his style of life: “You spend all your time in bed, with your girlfriend…or both!”. They found her very funny and laughed their hearts out at her sense of humour.

They had many friends so they went out a lot, were it to parties, discos, dinners out or to see movies – something they both loved. They both enjoyed mystery movies and he remembered taking her to see “The Company of Wolves” by Neil Jordan, or the most romantic “Against All Odds” with the beautiful soundtrack by Phil Collins, where she had cried her heart out, always a romantic…she was staying at his apartment on that summer weekend and they had spent the day on the beach, so he remembered her with her deep tan and a khaki coloured short dress that made her irresistible.

When she was sad he was the shoulder she cried on, when she was nervous about her exams he would patiently listen to her, when she had doubts he would reassure her; and she did the same to him. They were the perfect companions, soul mates, physically and mentally suited. They made a striking couple, both tall and attractive – or so people said. They were young, full of live and in love – they had everything.

Then he moved to an attic where he lived by himself. In the centre of it there was a huge four poster bed and they spent many moments there, enjoying each other. Once, as they lay entwined, the radio started playing “Heaven” by Bryan Adams and they both listened to the lyrics: “Baby you’re all that I want/ When you’re lying here in my arms/ I’m finding it hard to believe/ We’re in heaven” and looked at each other intensely and admitted they were, really, in heaven.

He had a large photo of her by his bed to keep him company when she was not there. She looked beautiful, he thought, with a slightly mischievous smile but a message of love in her dark eyes. He knew she had taken it expressly for him during the time they had been far away from each other.

Change

Then life changed. She finished university and began working. As he was a few years behind their rhythms were now different but of course they kept seeing each other often – but gone were those long lazy mornings together when she skipped her classes. Now it was different and much more serious, she was building her career.

And, inevitably, she began to change. She was moody, distant, not as loving as before. He thought it was normal, after all so many changes were happening in her life…he was patient and supportive as always, hoping for her to adapt to the new circumstances.

When he went home for Christmas holidays he decided to buy her a ring – not an engagement one, it was too soon for that – but a simple thin gold band that would show the world they were in love with each other, looking at the future together…but when he gave it to her on his return, in great trepidation, she had a strange reaction, saying she didn’t want to wear a “commitment” ring, she was not ready for it…she even looked angry at him for giving it to her and he was bewildered.

Each day she was more distant and withdrawn. Even when he held her close her soul was not in it. He felt as if she were a handful of sand that he could not keep however much he tried to close his fist – she was different, she was not his anymore.

The end

And then one day they went to see “Out of Africa“. All through the movie she cried disconsolately – she cried a lot at romantic movies but this time it seemed too much – and as they came out she bluntly told him she could not go on. She was breaking up with him.

How he found his way back to his attic, he would never know. As he walked on the streets tears came down his cheeks. Inside, he threw himself on the bed and when he looked at her face in the photo, so smiling, so loving, so happy – then he let all his anger come out and he shouted. And he cried for a long, long time.

The following days, weeks, months were like hell to him. His friends tried to console him, to no avail. He drank himself to a stupor many times, he stopped going to University, he just lay in bed looking at her photo and feeling sorry for himself. And then he understood: someone had seen her with her new boyfriend. She was in love with someone else – something she had not even had the courage and the decency to tell him.

And he hated her. And everything that had to do with her. And then, only then, did he decide she was not worth the destruction of his life, and that he had to find other things to live for. And slowly, very slowly, he returned to life.

During the following summer holidays they met. They went to have a drink one evening and she told him she was very happy in her new life and love. He said he was now all right, but he lied. He was far from that, maybe just on a slow way to recovery. Just to be with her made his heart ache.

Today

Years went by. He finally found a new love in his best friend – the shoulder where he had cried so many sorrows – and eventually they married and had a son, the joy of his life. To think that parenthood had never been on his plans… He had begun a successful career as an architect and life had flowed smoothly and predictably, and he could say he had a happy and stable marriage.

But, he could not help it – nor did he want to: whenever he heard the songs he had dedicated to her, and mostly this one, he was immediately transported back in time, and wished she “were here” with him as she had been on that mountain sunrise so many years ago. When he – they – had been “young and wild and free” (as in “Heaven”) and incredibly happy with all their lives before them and all their dreams to fulfil. And when everything was still possible…

It is late now. She is writing on her computer and listening to music with her earphones so as not to wake anybody. She is tired and her back aches. How long has she been writing? She yawns and tells herself “To bed, now”. And suddenly she listens to the first – unmistakable – sounds of the guitar in “Wish you were here” and she immediately travels back in time to that same sunrise, to that same mountain, and for a fraction of time they are bound together by this music, so strong, and so much their own: “How I wish/ How I wish you were here/ We’re just two lost souls/ Swimming in a fish bowl/ Year after year/ Running over the same old ground/ What have we found/ The same old fears/ Wish you were here”.

And she cannot help smiling at the sweet memories that invade her, and think if there was ever a man who loved her as much as the one who dedicated this song to her, because he had loved her so deeply and so truthfully.

But such are the mysteries of life and love, she thought – I’ll never know.

As she went to bed she felt she was smiling inside – some memories are so powerful they will always remain with you, memories of the beautiful fulfilling moments you have had the privilege to live through in what is, after all, nothing more than the sum of many moments that we call our life.