19h. Hop off the motorino and park properly. An aperitivo with my dear friend Eliza by the river Tevere at Freni. It’s always busy at this spot, it’s where all the artsy youthful people go, apparently.
Order drinks, something with tequila in it (the only alcohol that’s an upper, not a downer, you know?), I’ll go outside and find a table first (hopefully get one by the flame lamp). Nope, no flame lamp. Drinks arrive and find us, we take turns getting food at the buffet. Fresh salads, pasta, breads, cinnamon apples. Aside from the flimsy plastic forks you can’t quite eat with, cozy.
Conversation with Eliza is deep, and meaningful, of course, but I notice someone a couple of times from the corner of my eye enter the space. Tall, dark, slim sharp features, curious gentle eyes, long curly hair, great black wool coat, worn leather boots, and a simple tote bag from some art exhibit. Alone? Or waiting for someone. He orders at the bar. One hour later he still seems to be alone. Or still waiting.
‘Why don’t you go talk to him?’, Eliza says. ‘I’ll go inside warm up, and get another drink, go talk to him!’.
Okay, I’m officially on my own now, no Eliza to push me any further or make something happen.
Standing in a field of glowing people, drinking, smoking, having a good time amidst the flame lamps and polished cobblestones by the Tiber. The moon still bright from being full less than three days ago. I’m alone, yet not alone, observing.
What kinds of shoes are most of the women wearing? Leather. Black leather. Oh I see a Falabella bag. Boots with heels. It’s chilly. Is everyone casually flirting with everyone else? I start thinking about what brought me here to this moment. How did I get here. It’s such a beautiful evening. Oh, I’m so lucky.
I catch a soft gaze upon me. OK so there must be some reciprocal interest. He gets up from a seated position on a cobblestone ledge overlooking another part of Trastevere. Goes in to get another drink. I’ve been outside for at least 30 minutes. I go inside too and check-in with Eliza. Follow him back outside. A mix of high strung curiosity, and guilt for Eliza waiting for me, yet not having made any moves. I have to say something.
Outside. Back on the cobblestone ledge again. Still alone. Drinking a golden beer out of a glass goblet. The occasional glance. We’ve had eye contact at least a couple of times at this point.
There’s space open to his right on the cobblestone ledge. I place myself there, but still leave enough room for 2 people in between us, of course. I peer out into the crowd, observing, and sensing what next to do. I take a sip of wine.
A couple asks if I could scoot down right next to him to give them space to sit. Perhaps I knew this would happen, perhaps I didn’t. Why didn’t they sit in between us? Oh the ways of the world. I glance up at him to make sure I’m not intruding, he smiles. The couple absorbed in their own conversation scootches in closer. I’m pretty much rubbing shoulders with him now, making the need to strike up a conversation unavoidable, seeing that neither of us is talking to anyone really.
‘Stai aspettando qualcuno?’ I ask .
He says he isn’t waiting for anyone. His name is Fuad. 26. Persian architect (that explains most of it). He lives in Venice, but came down to Rome for work.
He said he was watching me earlier thinking, ‘This guy is like me, someone who just enjoys observing in solitude’, and opened up a kind smile.
Our minds were lubricated enough at this point in the evening after at least 3 hours of having arrived. 22h. He’d already pulled out the intellectual card.
‘Secondo te, qual’è la ragione della vita?’, according to you, what’s the meaning of life, I asked.
‘Amare, e sapere.’, to love, and to know, he said.
A clear answer given without any hesitation. Definitely premeditated.
‘Qual’è la più importante?’, which is the more important, I asked
‘Amare.’, to love, he said.
And after a conversation that lasted a good 40 minutes discussing what it really means to love and what it really means to know, raising thoughts from late thinkers like Debord and Heraclitus, I attempted to reveal where this conversation may end.
‘Torno a Venezia domani mattina’, I’m going back to Venice tomorrow morning, he said.
‘A che ora?’, what time, I asked.
‘Alle 4, dammi il tuo numero, restiamo in contatto‘, at 4 am, give me your number, we’ll stay in touch he said.
Un baccio, and a warm goodbye.