What have I missed?
I have been neglecting this blog. The only post this year was in March. A bit sad for not wanting to be here often enough. The world as it is, too much to think about, too little I can say. Then I find the draft dated 2014/9/23. Something that once touched me I took the time to write about. I read it, vaguely remembering the story. As always I don’t remember my own written words, are they really mine?
What have I missed?
I was channel-hopping and the Film 4 matinee caught my eye. Had a look at the time, I was 30 minutes late. With only two-thirds of the film left, I clicked the info button on the remote control for a synopsis to see if it would be worthwhile to start watching.
This was what appeared on the TV screen:
“Almost entirely devoid of dialogue, In the City of Sylvia follows a young man as he wanders central Strasbourg in search of a woman he asked for directions in a bar several years ago.”
Not much of a story then. No danger of losing the plot, literally. I have never been to Strasbourg but I am a keen armchair traveller. Time to hit the streets to sightsee the French city.
The young man was walking closely behind a woman; somehow you could feel the tension there. One couldn’t tell if she knew she was being followed. She turned into a back alley. She came out onto the main street and crossed the road. She stopped at a shop and leaned against the door to talk on the phone. She walked on. In a split second she was gone.
The young man was running in circles. It made you dizzy just following him. Several times, he came across the same graffiti on the wall – Laure je t’aime. Repeating scenes of embracing young lovers in the square; kids kicking a ball. Up on the balcony a woman was watering plants; a summer dress hung on the wooden window plank, swaying in the breeze. Another woman in her lingerie was blowing dry her hair in front of an open window. Walking backwards looking up at the building, he nearly hit a fruit stall.
Eventually he found her waiting for the tram. He went in after her and watched her from the next car. Did she know? Hesitantly he approached her, ‘Sylvia?’. Six years ago he met Sylvia in the bar les Aviateur, and still kept the napkin on which she drew him a map for directions. ‘Sylvia?’ No, she’s not, you’re mistaken. What a disaster, I made a mistake, shaking his head. The tram moved on. It’s wrong to follow; it’s unpleasant to be followed in the street; I was running in circles to avoid you; I tried to hide in a shop but it was closed, didn’t you notice. Bells tolled, the tram ran through the high street. You two looked alike but it was six years ago. Bells tolled again, the tram passed the river and the crowd. I’d get off here, hope you wouldn’t; I hope you’d find her. He sat down, looking out of the window and watched her walk away, turn a corner.
Later he went back to les Aviateur. He saw another face. No, not Sylvia.
Another day, he was in the street again, empty bottles lying idly in the corner. People walked on by. He read newspaper in the cafe, smoking and gazing out of the window. Was that Sylvia? He got up and followed. No, not Sylvia.
It’s not the end of the story, yet. The search went on, for Sylvia, and the ‘mistaken Sylvia’. The sketchbook in his hand was blown open revealing pencil sketches of women. He sat in a tram stop, seeking out women’s faces, drawing them. People came and went. Trams came and went. Women’s faces came and went.
He was young. He had time on his side. He could afford to chase rainbows. Being the accidental follower, suddenly I wish I were young again.
What have I missed?
Almost two years have passed since the unfinished draft. I no longer remember the rest of what I’d like to say. I wasn’t writing a review, that’s never been my forte. I was making notes, trying to retell the story. The interlude of life. Dreaming, searching, longing. Was I envious? What was there to be envious of? Being young and carefree? Having the courage to act on daydreams? Was it lust, or love that was being chased? Or is it just rainbows?
What have I missed telling you? The sights of the city? That something which first inspired me for this blog post? How am I going to polish the story so that it makes sense to you? I don’t know. Too much time has passed. I don’t remember. I have changed my mind, like everything else in life. Time does that to you, changing one’s mind. I don’t want to hang on to it any more. I don’t think I’ll try finishing it. I don’t think it’ll matter but perhaps you should know this is the final line I wrote in my draft :
“Loving you, I could not grow old….”