Monday, March 26, 2012

Geneve Journal: Swiss Chris

At about this point in the year, the twenty-year-ago me was contending with the confusion and desperation a broken heart in the making.  I guess the heart had already been broken (although, from the scant few journal entries from this period, I seemed mildly unaware of the prognosis) but the hope surrounding the situation yet had some life - but it wouldn't last.  

Her nationality: Swiss.  Her name; Sonia.  She was one of a group of students on a Summer (the Summer before) exchange program.  My parents signed on to be one of the host families...for one (Ms. Magali Aubert).

She was crystal greygreen eyes and a coiled sea of black hair.  It was that black mass of hair paired with black leather jacket that drew me through the parking lot of Arapahoe Community College.  The prospect of international co-ed ambassadorship appealed to me and a handful of my compatriots.  That first day of this saga, we collected a group of the students gathered in front of the college to take in the Denver Black Arts Festival. 

Her time in Denver - some five weeks -  is marked on in my journal with just two entries:

My attention was ignited by her as I drove through the parking lot of the community college that was the academic home away from home for the students.  I had met my exchange sister. ....As I pulled up to the group of students lounging on the lawn, her black nest of hair captured my attention at 30 yards and closing.  Crystal eyes set deep in a bronzy sea and .......coils of black hair.  I was transfixed.  She was in Denver for about a month, I think.  It was intense.  Her time in Denver is marked on in my journal with just two entries - from which I'll spare you. 

Driving to the airport with Bri to see her off, there was some sort of solar phenomenon occurring,  It was probably simply a very heavy fog on an otherwise crisply bright Denver morn.  Bri: "dude, check out the sun."  Me: Oh man, that's wild".  The two of us staring in silence - for longer than a prudent moment..  Soon, sumthing like:
"My eyes feel funny"
"I wasn't going to say anything, but mine do too."

An unflinching unknowing stare rendering blindness and pain.

That's sort of an overarching, poetical, comment relating to the love and loss in a dream of Swiss. - our actual eyes ended up fine.  No actual blindness occurred that day.

She was in tears.  I, as was to be more fully expressed in later years and in later relationships was emotionally unaffected.  unfazed.  I was hit by it later.

What ensued was a flurry of written correspondences.  Multiple letters were arriving per week.  Each one fragrantly recalling her being.  I can't recall the scent now, although I don't doubt catching a whiff of it would hit a nerve.  The scent clung to her letters some years later when I was reorganizing my storage.  I imagine it's passed on now.  I'll give you an update as I'll be carousing through my storage in the coming days.

That twenty-years-past Spring met up the threatening end of a utopian fantasy.  It was the first time I remember regretting death.  Not fearing so much, but regretting that the life I dreamed I'd have with her would one day be cut short by the death of one of us.  I was scraping peeling paint and the tendrils of a vine from a white picket fence when I first came upon this particular death anxiety.

If memory recalls, slightly before this point in that year, the revelry of visiting the mailbox turned to yet another source of anxiety.  What new confirmation that she had moved on would be her reply to one of my begging missives.  Seeing that red/blue half-chevron bound envelope caused my heart to drop to my knees.  So focused was I, so intent on attaining the goal ....and so on edge was I that I swore, that even though my reason for scrimping and working multiple jobs around my class schedule with the intent of saving money to travel to Switzerland had ceased to exist, if I didn't actually leave this country, something drastic would occur.

I went to Geneva after that Spring semester.  I spent the Summer, largely wandering the streets, visiting the Art & Architecture Library.  Although my thought initially was that I would go to Geneva to live in love, I never really thought about the future.

I only saw her a couple of times during the several months I spent there.  I never returned to school.   The entire experience helped make that decision clear.  But the deal I made with myself that Summer that as long as I was engaged in a pursuit that felt as enriching and enlightening as college might purport to be, I would not return.  Not to study art, at least.
I can't say that at all times I've entirely lived up to that oath.  The attempt to quantify one path over the other is difficult.  But I know for sure that that entire experience twenty year back was a pivot.  Every action, every step along my path since is marked by that season's brand.   It's very possible that I may well have ended up in a place and a mind similar where I am now, but there's no doubt that this situation I'm living in at this moment -and every day that's led up to it- owes it's shape and character to that Summer.

That this is now 20 years hence feels significant, and worthy of an observation.

The idea is to return to Geneva later this year and revisit many places and peoples.  More on this soon.

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