A message appears on your computer screen. You two have been at it for hours.
“It was a mystical flow from the cosmos that brought us together that summer. It was only ever meant to be a temporary thing. I never imagined you as a potential girlfriend, wife or soul mate, including during the times that I caressed, kissed or made love to you. I only ever envisioned us having a lasting friendship full of sharing and caring”.
You are gobsmacked.
He is a coward.
Thousands of miles separate you. He would never be able to look you in the eyes and tell such lies – because if he did, you would call him out for it and he would instantly feel exposed. Unfortunately, it has been years since you last saw him.
It’s a low blow – and he knows it.
How dare he! Furious, you type away at the keyboard.
“You are the one who hunted me down, pursued me relentlessly, crossed the line between friends and lovers time and time again – and you know what, that’s ok. All I ever wanted was to have you in my life. Tell me then, if you so care about our friendship, why it is so difficult for you to be just that – my friend?
He tries to formulate a response that would make sense but the truth is he doesn’t have one. Instead, after a long pause he writes:
“Why are you still talking about the past?”
You roll your eyes.
Another message follows. “It is what it is. I could not change it”.
With that, he logs off.
3,470 miles away, on his New York balcony, he lights a cigarette. He only smokes at times of extreme anxiety. Talking to you is definitely such a time.
He knows if he was ever to give into your closeness again, life as he knows it would end.
You only spent a few short weeks together one summer years ago, for God’s sake!
Rewind to Paris, 2001.
To support your passion for travel, you are living the crazy life working two jobs – one of which is an evening job conducting telephone interviews with new car owners in the UK. One winter night, you dial a number in the London area and are immediately struck by the familiarity of the voice on the line. What a beautiful accent! This man is clearly not British. He hasn’t even bought a new car! Nonetheless, there’s an air about him which makes him irresistibly intriguing to you – and the feeling is mutual. He tells you he has never heard an accent as beautiful as yours.
That night, your 20-minute interview turns into a conversation lasting the entire duration of the evening shift as you both marvel at the instant bond between you. He wants to know everything about you. You discover many parallels and shared interests, such as a love for travel and languages. “We recently returned from Peru”, he tells you. You wonder whether this “we” is a girlfriend or a wife but do not dare ask.
That night something extraordinary happens: one by one the entire team gathers around to enjoy the wonderful energy created by your exchange. As interviews go, this is of the once-in-a-lifetime kind. He makes it clear he’d like to meet and wants your number. He asks you whether you ever visit London – which you do – and jokes about you turning up unannounced at his doorstep. At the same time, it feels like he would welcome it. He also indicates he might travel to Paris just to meet you.
Afraid of how your boyfriend might react, you don’t give out your number out but take this man’s number instead. He writes down your name, the name and location of your company and makes you swear you’ll call him.
“You know if you don’t call me I am going to have to come and find you”, he says.
You both laugh.
Unfortunately, despite your best intentions you never call him back. The time never seems right. The toxic relationship you are caught up in makes you fear the consequences of ever making that phone call. You had felt so strongly about this practical stranger (as undoubtedly he had about you) that you know it could never be just a “hello” – something would have to follow.
The following spring, you have just returned home after a long day at work when you receive an unexpected call from your evening job, asking you to come in despite it being already late. Even though it’s Friday night and your 5th anniversary with your boyfriend your team leader impresses upon you how important this is and so you make your way to the office situated on the outskirts of Paris.
You are right in the middle of conducting your first interview of the night when he walks in. Facing sideways to the door, you do not immediately see him but “feel” him as every single cell in your body responds to his familiar vibration. The air is suddenly thick and hazy with an almost tangible frenetic energy. You glance over and immediately catch his eye.
Time stands still.
The vision of him standing at the doorway of the small room – illuminated as if standing under a divine spotlight – almost makes you gasp. Your breath catches in your throat and a tingle shoots through your body like liquid fire. You have never met this person before yet you experience what can only be described as a feeling of being discovered, found out – like you have been hidden from him and here he is now, having found you. It is unexpected – and with it, blurry memories of distant times and places suddenly flood your consciousness.
The team leader leads him into the room and introduces him to a couple of the team members who are not in the middle of interviews. All this time, his eyes are fixated on you. You seem to recognize him from somewhere. He walks over and pulls a chair right next to you. Turning his body to face you completely, he just sits there, gazing at you like a blind man staring at the sun.
As you carry on with your interview, you cannot help but stare back into his blue eyes, seeing so deep into them you swear you’re catching glimpses of his soul. Feeling both exposed and fully seen for the first time, you feel him peer deep into you. You cannot help but smile back at him. You feel an instant spark – not of physical chemistry – but a spark that ignites the heart and soul.
When your interview finally ends, his first words are “You have the most beautiful accent I have ever heard”. He wants to know everything about you. As you talk, you find him staring at your curiously. “It’s like there’s this light around you, like you are glowing,” he says. There is something strangely familiar and comforting about him; the sound of his voice, his eyes, his energy. Just like you, he can easily switch between fluent English and French. He tells you he is originally from North Africa and for the past decade has lived between London and New York. You also have a close connection with these cities. He is here to work on a project in Arabic. At almost 32 years old, he is 7 years older than you.
That night, you chat away like excited children and the team leader has to repeatedly ask you to keep it down. You simply cannot contain your unadulterated happiness at meeting each other. Even in the silence, bright bursts of sunlight spark between your smiling eyes. You are struck by the deep knowing that whatever happens from now on, just to have him in your life is enough. Just to know he exists is enough. The emptiness you had felt of something missing in your life is suddenly gone. He is here – and you can never lose him again.
You catch the 9:30pm train back into Paris with the rest of the team. For the entire train ride, you only have eyes for each other. When he asks you what your favourite things in life are, you both exclaim as if from the same mouth “Travelling, languages and writing!”. He gasps comically, yet he is far from being shocked or even surprised – in fact, he had totally expected it. It is surreal how alike you are! When the train pulls into Gare de Lyon, his stop, he deliberately misses it, just to be able to spend a few more moments with you. As you alight at the following station, you both have another two trains to catch. Unable to walk away, you continue your conversation in the middle of world’s busiest underground station.
Although you are aware of people swaying past you from all directions, all you can see is each other. There is flirtation, deep soul revealing conversations, laughter. He asks you out for a drink but it is getting late and you worry about your boyfriend’s reaction. “I really must go now”, you say – yet three hours and twenty I really must go now’s later, you have barely moved an inch. Thousands of people have passed you by. It is already past midnight and you know you have to go if you wish to catch the last train home. Back at home, you lie awake all night thinking about him, your body bursting with energy. You cannot wait to see him again and somehow you know the feeling is mutual.
The next day at work you try to tell friends about what happened but you find yourself lacking the words to adequately describe him or the events of the night before. You can’t even say his name out loud; a shiver of energy runs through your body whenever you try. Just thinking about his name does strange things to you. Your friends think it’s amusing and suggest you might be slightly mad and remind you that you have a boyfriend. “It’s not like that”, you tell them. “There’s nothing like that going on!” – yet you leave work early to buy your first mobile phone, just so he can call you.
As promised, you see each other at work the following day. He has not slept a wink either. When he confesses he is unable to stop thinking about you, your entire body vibrates in response. He is having a hard time pinpointing quite what it is that is causing him to feel this irresistible pull to you. “Maybe it’s because you live in abundance”, he says, and this sticks in your mind because it’s such an unusual thing to say. Leaving each other is even harder that night – after hours chatting at the station you reluctantly go your separate ways. Little do you know, immediately after leaving you he feels as if his own being is being torn apart. He leaves his train in order to call you. You had only just given him your number. Since you are in the underground, his call does not reach you and goes through to voicemail instead.
Twenty minutes later arriving at your home station you notice someone has left you a voicemail. Your chest swells hearing his voice.
“Hey… Jonna”, he starts. The way he says your name sends a shiver up your spine. “I cannot go home. I want to see you”. The emotion in his words is palpable. “I need to be with you. We’ll do whatever you want. Have a drink, walk, whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as I am with you. Please come to George V on the Champs Elysees. I will be here waiting“.
You turn around immediately and run back into the underground. You MUST go to him. Is this even REAL? It is nearing 1:00am, and the last train is only minutes away.
As you come up onto the Champs-Elysées, you immediately spot him standing at the top of the escalator, beaming. It is a sight you will never forget. In your mind’s eye he shines brightly like a thousand suns. You spend the entire night walking through the city that never sleeps, past the brightly lit monuments and bridges, staring into the starlit Seine-river, sharing stories of your childhood, dreams, hopes and fears… It feels like a fairy tale and there are no words to describe how much being with him feels like home to you. All the usual pressure that comes with meeting a person of the opposite sex is gone; all that guessing, trying to impress them, trying not to make a fool of yourself; there is none of it – for the first time in your life you feel completely yourself.
You both feel an urge to tell each other everything. You trust him because you instinctively know you have the same thoughts. He tells you about his travels, his past, the pain of losing his father, how he never felt unconditional love from his mother – in turn, you tell him about growing up in Finland, your parent’s recent divorce, your life-long yearning to be somewhere you couldn’t quite grasp – a yearning he had felt too, growing up in his native Algeria.
You talk about your interests which seem to mirror each other almost perfectly. Even your job history has many parallels: you both have a background in market research and translations. When he tells you he considers himself a “citizen of the world”, you can hardly believe it. At the age of fifteen, you remember writing an article for the local newspaper where you proudly stated “I am a citizen of the world”. It is how you have always felt.
That morning, just before sunrise, he walks you to near your little basement flat just a stone’s throw from Pont Alexandre III bridge. He behaves like the perfect gentleman. You feel a kinship and a connection with him which is different from any other relationship you have encountered before. Your togetherness is effortless, child-like, joyful – you have never felt such lightness in just being yourself. It does not even occur to you that there might be more to this. Surely he is completely out of your league anyway?
The following day he asks you to meet him at Boulainvilliers station. He wants to take you to a café he absolutely loves, a “hidden gem”, as he describes it. You can hardly believe it when he takes you to your favorite café in Paris, famous for its flower-filled terrace and the dozen cats that live there. You both love cats, of course. Sat out on the terrace, you spend the entire evening leaning over the table towards each other, completing each other’s sentences and simultaneously saying the same things. Captivated, he hangs onto your every word. You cannot help but notice the electric current of energy flowing between you – an image of two opposing charges pushing and pulling at each other flashes through your mind. “It’s like we are polar opposites”, he exclaims, that same second.
You discover further parallels and synchronicities despite coming from different social, cultural and religious surroundings. You notice how similar your thoughts, life experiences and expressions are – as are your beliefs, values and talents. You have the same creative drive, aspirations and dreams; you are asking yourselves the same questions. There are also complementary differences – he is an extrovert, you an introvert; he is a speaker, you’re a writer etc.
You start to feel like this is not just a chance or coincidence but that there is a divine hand at play. As the night goes on and as you discover more about him you realize you are in fact learning more about yourself. As you look into his eyes, you keep seeing yourself, as if looking into a bright mirror. You recognize in him a male version of yourself. He feels it too and tells you, his spellbound eyes shining brightly: “Jonna, you are my mirror image!” He speaks passionately about your eternal connection, about a wall coming down, veils being lifted and so on. You have trouble following it all – you are newly awakened and you lack the awareness and the vocabulary to describe the experience. Besides, you are lost in his beautiful blue eyes.
It is that night that he first tells you he has recently separated from his wife of almost ten years; a British-American woman 20+ years his senior whom he had married following a whirlwind romance in his early twenties. They shared many common interests, such as a love for photography and travel, and had lived between London and New York with extensive travel around the globe. Unfortunately, outside of their numerous vacations, they no longer got along.
He asks if you have a boyfriend. You hesitate for a second, then tell him you have recently separated. It isn’t exactly true, although you have tried to leave more times than you care to remember. “Things are still a little unresolved”, you say. He doesn’t seem to mind. Sitting there realising the energetic suppression that you have been living under, you are more adamant than ever that you will break it off with your boyfriend at the first opportunity. Even though you barely know this man, something about your togetherness immediately exposes the lie you’ve been living. You realize these two relationships do not even exist on the same plane. Strangely, you cannot ever imagine touching your boyfriend or another man again.
As the night falls, he invites you back to his place. “It’s way too early, you hardly know this man!” your rational mind screams. As you say your goodbyes on the train platform and just as the alarm for the closing doors sounds, he cups your face in his hands and presses a warm kiss onto your forehead. You blindly feel around for a seat as the doors slam shut and the train jolts into motion. Your head is spinning. Sat there with a huge smile on your face, you are puzzled. You recognize the sexual subliminal undercurrent between you two but it is not the main thing – the deep bond or friendship is. Tall, extrovert, with a nervous energy, he is far from being your physical “type” – and you are far from being his. What does this mean? All you know is you want to have him in your life, always. That night, as you step through the front door, the phone rings. He is missing you already. You talk into the early hours of the morning until it is time for you to get ready for work.
The following night, in his studio hidden away in a leafy Parisian courtyard, you are amazed to discover that even his reading habits match yours – there in a corner is a bookcase with contents identical to yours. After fixing you some dinner, he joins you on the sofa with a photo album in hand, resting his leg casually against yours. The photos cover his entire life until now; his childhood, his family back in Algeria, his travels around the world, his marriage. In one picture he poses happily with his wife on a Carnival cruise ship. “That was on our honeymoon”, he smiles. In another picture, they hug and smile on top of Machu Picchu. “That’s us in Peru, not so long ago. I truly thought I would spend the rest of my life with her”. The way he speaks about her so lovingly makes you wonder why he ever left her. It isn’t until much later that you learn that it was his spiritual awakening, just prior to your meeting, which was at least partly to blame for his arrival in Paris. You wonder why Paris of all places.
After a while, the combination of his leg resting against yours, his closeness and his softly spoken voice make it increasingly difficult for you to concentrate. You just want to hold him. He is right there with you – he closes the album and lets it fall on the floor. His arms circle you and for the longest moment you just hold each other. Gazing into his eyes, you dive in deep, seeing galaxies speed past a dizzying speeds, floating in the timeless space, experiencing what you can only describe as “God”, or the most powerful, sublime and infinitely loving force, looking at him through your eyes. As the mirror of his soul reflects this God consciousness back to you, you see yourself as if God is looking back at God itself. The amount of love you feel leaves you forever changed.
When your lips finally touch the sense of rightness is such that a powerful “YES” rises from deep within you. He shows you that every other kiss you’ve had in your life has been wrong. His face has the slightest bit of stubble and it rubs your skin but you don’t care. You don’t care at all. Every inch of your body dissolves into his, so much so that you wonder whether you’ll ever be able to find your way back into it. When you come up for air four hours later, you both let out an immediate and simultaneous “FINALLY!”, before collapsing back into the sofa laughing. How amazing to finally find someone who knows how to hold, kiss & caress! “I have waited FOREVER to do that”, he sighs and you kiss some more. Neither one of you had felt any time pass at all.
The next day returning from work you find your boyfriend waiting for you outside your apartment. Feeling empowered and supported from within like never before, you tell him it’s over, once and for all. Initially he seems to take the news well, agreeing that your separation has been a long time coming, however only days later, he attacks you in a jealous rage outside your home. You are simply too ashamed to tell your friend. You want to believe that a new life is beginning for you and are determined not to let the ghosts of your past destroy it.
Being with your friend is energizing, like being charged by the Universe. You can hardly concentrate at work and he occupies your every thought 24/7. At the same time, you have never experienced such an explosion of creative energy within you. You barely sleep or eat – and you don’t need to. Over the next few weeks you lose a lot of weight– you are glowing, with a permanent smile on your face. Shivers of energy run through your body at the slightest thought of him. Just his name sends your atoms into a frenzy! People around you cannot help but notice the magnetic energy of your togetherness and immediately assume you’re a couple. Neither one of you can figure out what it is exactly that makes you so attracted to each other. Just being around each other is exhilarating. You develop a terrible stubble rash on your face from all the kissing.
It is only a matter of days before you both give into the magnetic pull to merge together – not only in mind, heart and soul, but in body. Taking that step feels so natural. You have never experienced such intimacy with anyone. So different, this is not about the physical sensations or human senses but about the joining of two bodies on all levels – spiritual, mental, emotional, physical. You both agree this act of merging feels both primal and sacred; you truly are making love. There is a sense of coming together of polarities and the recognition of their already present unity; an exchange of DNA, the creation of something new; at once sexual, psychological and spiritual, earthly and transcendent, individual and universal, masculine and feminine. He later describes your love-making as a “different kind of physical communication and nourishment”.
There are times he climaxes so powerfully that you fear he might hurt himself. Huge amounts of energy are being released. Once or twice his orgasms leave him unable to walk, or articulate anything that would make sense. He speaks incoherently about galaxies speeding past him, floating in the clouds, about having died and gone to Heaven. This may well be what he tells all the women in his life (and you suspect there have been many) but never in your life have you seen a man climax like that. “Only you do that to me”, he later confides.
Afterwards, your naked bodies intimately entwined, he takes your hand and superposes it on his. “It’s the perfect fit,” he says, and kisses you tenderly. “YOU are perfect to me.” Nestled there in the nook of his arm, you smooth the damp hair away from his temples. You love him like a lover, a mother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a student, all at once. You have never known such unconditional love before. Truly, only God can love him more.
“You…,” he says, his voice cracking with emotion. He pauses, before continuing: “You make me feel like a virgin.” There is shyness and vulnerability behind his brave and gregarious mask. ”It’s hard to explain but every time with you feels like the first time. I have never experienced it before. I have always pursued women, like a hunter. That’s what we men are taught to do. Only, once the hunt is over, I have often felt empty, even used.”
“With you it’s completely the opposite. I feel empowered but also helpless when I am in your arms”.
He clears his throat to try and regain control of his emotions, then looks at you half puzzled, half amused, his eyes searching your gaze. “It’s like you’ve put a spell on me…”
You are unsure whether that’s a statement or a question.
“Like I can’t hide anything from you”, he continues, “Like you see straight into my soul.”
You don’t disagree. You do.
You spend the next couple of months joined at the hip. You bring out the best in each other – he truly wants you to become the best version of you. You happily introduce each other to members of your respective families over the telephone without thinking too much of it and plan to travel back to your home country together later in the summer. You introduce him to all your closest friends. You lose friends too – not everyone understands how you can leave your boyfriend and move on so fast. Very few people know about the hell your life has been these past few years.
He is your shelter from this world – for the first time you feel like someone truly understands you, gets you and accepts you for who you are. Being with him makes your brain quiet; you do not need to invent anything. He is by far the most wonderful, awe-inspiring soul you have ever met – and he seems to feel the same way about you.
You spend your nights talking about everything between Heaven and Earth. You both appreciate the value of clear and open communication and even though you explain yourselves out of habit of doing so with others, inside you both know you don’t have to. Your brains are in sync; you have the same views and ways of thinking. You know he would never judge you. He tells you he has recently had a spiritual awakening. He is into horoscopes and seems to know everything about your Gemini-Pisces compatibility. He speaks with great passion about his plans for you to better the world together – to “build a bridge between cultures and religions, between East and West”. He speaks about travelling together, opening a B&B together in a warmer climate, writing and publishing together.
You want all those things but wonder how, from your short time together, he can so enthusiastically “see” these things. You find it hard to see that far into the future anyway due to the volatile situation with your ex-boyfriend. Only recently, he kicked your door down trying to get to you. Through your soul bearing conversations it becomes clear his situation with his estranged wife is just as unresolved. He tells you of his sense of duty towards her and how difficult this has made leaving her. He has been dealing with emotional blackmail from her, fearing she will hurt herself, and feels horrible about causing her so much pain. At the same time your ex is still refusing to leave you alone, alternating between extreme anger and depression. You fear he will kill you or himself – or both. He has started to call your workplace, causing disruption. Naively, you hope there is an amicable conclusion to your time together. There never will be. One night your friend turns to you and says “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could both had magic wands to resolve each other’s problems?”
Unfortunately the situation with your ex-partners only gets worse. Between you fearing your ex’s reaction and his wife announcing her visit, your time together is now under threat. He tells you you were only ever meant to be friends and that everything else has been a “bonus.” You know this is how you lose him. The Universe steps in and your daytime job assigns you to a temporary project working at the head office, at a location unknown to your ex. When you tell your friend about the project he immediately suggests you should work together. The stars align to help you: your boss – usually the most unhelpful, uncaring woman – instantly agrees, without ever meeting him. Somehow, even if this buys you more time, you know this time is borrowed.
You spend several weeks holed up in an office together, working as a team of two. You are so in sync you barely need words. With his wife is town, you no longer spend your nights together however most evenings, you ride home on the bus which follows the circular route around Paris. Although it is painstakingly slow, it is often the best moment of your day, sitting there with your legs rubbing, in silence, feeling recharged and comforted by each other’s presence. Here in the crowded commuter bus, you can still be together. As you look at him with the kind of certainty that only comes once in a lifetime, you know this Love will last forever.
It is years later now but the memory of that summer is still as magical as ever. He is still your favourite place to go when your mind searches for peace.
No matter that it ended in tears, the love between your souls still remains. You feel it within you each passing day.
Then why is it still so difficult?
He is a stranger, he is nothing, your wounded ego tells you.
He is home, he is everything, your soul responds.