I have had this thought at the back of my mind for a while now – that Jan might be quite keen on me – but am quite disbelieving and generally I do not trust my instincts which have led me to heartache in pastimes. We now have a fairly platonic relationship anyway, tending to enjoy talking over a meal with several bottles of Malbec usually and catching the occasional film at a cinema. We have only had sex once this year and I’m not sure how satisfying it was for him. I’m fairly sure he intuited that it was less than earth-shattering for me. Yet we continue to see each other, sleeping over at each other’s after an evening out.
Last night we saw that enigmatic film Clouds of Sils Maria – Jan is an ardent fan of Juliet Binoche – and found it unsatisfying even though it held our attention. Jan didn’t fall asleep (as is his wont at long films/theatre), he later joked that he was enthralled to B’s tits although we only glimpsed them when she stripped to plunge into an ice cold lake in the Swiss mountains. I tried to sympathise with the character B played – an ageing woman who struggles with mortality – there’s a death in the opening chapter from which the story unfolds. She leads the typical lifestyle of a pampered, highly acclaimed actress, but the play she rehearses with her assistant where she then takes the role of the older woman hints at a tenser relationship between them. We catch sight of more vulnerability in B’s character when she repulses a former lover’s advances, but later tries, in vain, to re-engage his interest. In the end, if there must be a nemesis in the film, it is youth and naked ambition in the form of the young actress played by Moretz who takes on the role of the actress who plays Sigrid, the manipulative seducer. In a film where the characters are not clearly black or white, good or bad, Jan and I came out of it feeling slightly cheated – questions remain unanswered about what happened and could happen to all of them. Then again, this is the sort of ambiguity that might be considered the hallmark of a good film.
We got a table at Sofra and whilst waiting for our starters Jan showed me a poem he had written when sitting in the cool shade of a beach bar last week. I re-read the stanza where he re-counts feelings he thought might have left him never to be re-kindled when he reached half a century, returning to him recently. I wondered who the woman in his poem to whom he claimed to be beguiled by was. Casting back I remembered that he had texted me from abroad to arrange our date and I’d felt that I had to be honest and let him know the extent of my recent sexploits. If I was his love interest – the thought had crossed my mind, and I was more than flattered, I felt blind-sided in fact – I wanted him to be under no illusion as to my pre-disposition and philosophy as regards dating.
I felt slightly blindsided because Jan was the one who insisted that this could only be a lighter liaison when we were seeing each other last summer. He had been the first one I’d felt rather silly about when I began dating again after the last long term relationship I had had failed. But this is all conjecture on my part – I am not sufficiently brave to ask him who the woman is. I am also not courageous enough to consider the possibilities of our relationship long term. I am only still capable of light liaisons without risking heartbreak. It may be the same for Jan too despite what he’s written about how he feels.
Jan did not seem disappointed by what I told him although he probably came home with me more out of convenience than because he wanted to spend the night with me. When he awoke this morning he seemed to be addicted to playing some game on his phone. So perhaps he has got over his romantic zeal – in any event we make another date for Saturday afternoon and I nurse my hangover. I asked him to send me his poem and he emails it to me –
The ambient muzak loops eternal –
Order against the random
pounding of the waves below
My romanticism is fired by the
Sounds, the setting and the sun
Though alone, thoughts of you
Weave and tear through my heart
– I thought these feelings would stop
Well before my half-century was up.
Apparently we are given these chances
In perpetuity – if we open our hearts
And feel. Let the moment
grasp us and take us up
Beyond the ordinary pain of life and
Into the divine light of love.
Someone has changed the music
But the feelings stay. My last beer
Slides down and I must go back
Into life and hope some love
Follows me to my shore
Cafe Sal Rosa, Albefeira, Portugal May 2015