Maybe it’s a dream many of us share, deep down – that of finding a lover of our younger years later in life, and together relive wonderful moments long buried in the past. It might be something like going back in time or getting your youth back, in a way; or maybe start dreaming again at a time when there is little fantasy left in your life.
A romantic soul by nature, I must say I never nurtured that dream; my old loves are anchored in the past, where they belong, although I do enjoy going back to memories of wonderful moments spent together, letting special songs take me back to a special place or a special someone.
Recently a close friend met the girlfriend of his late teens. They had dated in Brazil when, after the revolution in Portugal, like many Portuguese citizens his family left the country to avoid the troubled times that followed. He spent a year there, during which they met, fell in love, and then separated, their hearts broken when he had to return to Portugal with his family after the revolutionary period.
Even if an old saying tells that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” this is not what usually happens. We Portuguese rather believe that “Far from sight, far from heart” and eventually that’s what happened to them. They both moved on with their lives; she married first and then he married too. They had children and decades went by. In the end both had unhappy marriages that came to an end. Over the years they kept in touch and recently, free again, they decided to meet and see if the old spark was still there. Apparently, it was.
But in some cases Old Loves Die Hard, as goes the song by Triumvirat . My friend went to her in Brazil and came back in high spirits. They spent a wonderful holiday together, certainly remembering the past but also making plans for a future they can still have together. As I listened to him, I was slightly jealous, imagining myself having a second chance in life with a special someone of long ago. But many questions assailed me: would we still recognize each other, or would we have grown so different from the young people we used to be that no recognition would be possible? Would older, mature bodies recall the memories of the young ones, lithe and free from the devastation of time? Would souls find each other again, after so many years of other loves, disappointment and heartbreak? Most of all, would the chemistry that once existed still be there, pulling us inevitably into each other’s orbit? Would hearts still beat stronger at the sight of each other, would we still feel in Heaven lying in each other’s arms? Would we promise eternal love knowing that maybe this time it might be possible, since forever is now a word that means a much shorter time than it used to, when we had our whole lives ahead of us and thought we were immortal…
Once I wrote a story about two lovers who, in the end, are like my friend and his old flame. They have a passionate, turbulent relationship when they are young, they love and hurt each other but in the end manage to remain friends. They eventually lose touch and go on to live their lives apart. Many years later, miraculously, they meet by chance at a place where they used to go together all those years ago, a place that has withstood the test of time. And they are granted a new beginning, a second chance at love.
I shake my head. It’s only a story, after all. One I have made up. What happened to my friend is something rare, a sheer stroke of luck that only happens to a rare few. In most cases when – or if – old lovers meet again, they are complete strangers to each other, or simply the memory of something that once was but is no more. So, no illusions, I don’t think it will ever happen to me and, even if it came to be, who knows what I might find? Most probably the tall, handsome, passionate prince charming of old, turned into a dreamless, balding, pot-bellied frog of today. Who knows he might think something similarly unpleasant about me? Even without the same particular characteristics, still I’ve come a long way from the young girl I used to be.
I’ll forget about my friend’s story and go back to the ones in my imagination. In a fantasy world, you can have anything you want. You can be young again, and madly in love; you can experience passionate, tender, loving moments; you will find your soulmate and live happily ever after. If you want a fairytale ending, you better forget about real life, where princes turn into frogs and disillusion lurks around every corner. Real life, as we all know, usually turns out to be the exact opposite of a fairytale.