We met at the beach. I was looking for shells in the sand and he asked me if I had lost something. I wanted to say yes – I did feel as I had something missing, like an unfulfilled gap – but I said I was just looking for shells. I was obsessed about collecting them since I was a kid. He laughed at me and I felt stupid. I thought out loud: This is Rio de Janeiro. Of course there are no shells.
He took me for a drink and I had ice cream. He ordered a beer, like the English pints he was used to. I just wanted ice cream and didn’t mind if I seemed like a child and completely immature. Maybe I should have realized how out of place I looked. He told me about his travels and I completely forgot about the shells. I thought he had beautiful eyes, but didn’t say it. I decided to smoke to have a place for silence. I wasn’t nervous, it was just another guy. There has always been too many guys. It was always the same story, they think I’m pretty, they want to take me out again, I feel empty, I feel inadequate, I get depressed but force myself to be there. Except this time it wasn’t.
I don’t know how it wasn’t, but it was not like before. It was like we had entered a different dimension, like in the Murakami’s stories we were so enthusiastic about. It was like we were in the world with two moons now. The world as I used to know had failed to exist. I thought I knew everything about myself and about guys. I thought dating was supposed to be exhausting and psychologically damaging. I thought you were supposed to feel like shit after it and that was ok. I learned I was wrong.
My mind was peaceful. As an introvert, I hated socializing because it was like putting on a mask. But I didn’t feel the need to fake it. So I didn’t. I remembered the two moons. I dreamt about the shells. Life doesn’t have to be so painful. I saw the ocean and remembered all the tears I dropped for nothing. Yes, there will always be darkness. It is okay to fear solitude. But I was just there – and this new dimension was opening itself to me very fast.
I thought he wouldn’t kiss me. I was sure he wouldn’t kiss me. Because I’m so shy and insecure, I love to pretend I’m this really powerful confident feminist girl. So I kissed him. I thought I would melt, I was so dizzy. That couldn’t be the same world I was living in. That was something else.
The other day, we went to the bookstore and I told him I thought something had changed. Have you looked at the sky, I asked. You’re kidding me, he said. Seriously, I couldn’t believe how different life felt now. It was like someone had taken my body and replaced my soul for another one. My mind felt normal, for the first time my stomach didn’t hurt, I wasn’t panicking with anxiety. I forgot what depression felt like.
Do you take any meds? I asked. He said architecture was his remedy. He explained to me how everything made sense – how society has developed into the building of the cities as it is now, why the visual image of everything we see is the way it is. I thought the world was a mess and a hostile place. To him, thought, the world was comprehensible in terms of diagrams and drawings. He had so much passion for it I felt jealous. But that longing I had was almost inexistent now, once again I mentioned I was sure we were inhabiting the world of two moons.
The whole time he was there, I could see the two moons in the skies. I could see the shells. I saw all the drawings and buildings and sky scrapers through his eyes. Let’s stay here, I thought. I don’t know if I could survive if I ever had to go back.
He texted me when he went back to Europe. All of the buildings disappeared. There was no moon in the sky. This is me, I thought. Are you looking for something? I remembered his first words. No, I said. But I should have said yes.
It’s too late now. Remember the two moons and the shells? Like in all Murakami’s stories, in the end the two worlds collapse into only one universe, one big nothing. Let’s just stay here, I should have said.