Perfect moments are rare. When they do happen I get this tingling pins and needles feeling on the back of my head, like someone's been playing with my hair. Often these tiny perfections arrive for no reason whatsoever. Just: there they are. Fleeting delight.
One of my clearest memories of such a moment occurred in the living room of a guy I dated when I was nineteen.
It must have been summer, but early or late I don't know. It was dusk though, the windows were open and the breeze was velveteen. There was soft music playing. There were a few people over, chatting, probably sharing a bottle of wine. The room was open, airy, and there was a nice wooden mantel with carvings and lit candles.
"This is what being All Grown Up feels like." Pleasant shiver. Goosebumps.
We met at an Art History class at the local college. A field trip into Vancouver was organized, to visit some galleries. I didn't drive so I ended up getting a ride with him.
I barely remember the exhibits. Something to do with plastering a room with sheet music. Oh, and a thing where the artist went to sleep at a hotel (in cotton pyjamas, possibly with the aid of sleeping pills) and had some friends come along in the night to take him home. The piece consisted of footage of him sleeping in the back of the car; it was quite dark, with just the intermitent street lights to illuminate rain mottling the back window while the whump of windshield wipers and the hum of tires on wet pavement droned on in the background. It was supposed to illicit memories of childhood, those times when your parents took you out somewhere past your bedtime and then drove you home and transfered you from car to bed without waking you.
I remember wearing a long flowy dress with clunky shoes (it was the 90s). We had lunch together and the fact that John Keats featured prominently in our conversation should have been a bit of a warning sign.
Romantic poets notwithstanding, we flirted shamelessly and ultimately decided that it would be fun to get together sometime outside of a school function.
I still lived at home then and when my parents found out that he was in his thirties they were not impressed. They were too smart to make a fuss about it though, knowing that to do so would only add glamour to the situation for me.
He played it very cool. He even gave me a speech about how conflicted he was - I was so young, so innocent, we probably shoudn't be doing this! I fell for it - thus proving myself both young and innocent - and threw myself into the task of appearing thirteen years older than I was.
It must have lasted a whopping three months. Four, tops. These are the things I remember: his short blond ponytail and thick black-rimmed glasses, ridding on a the back of a red motorbike, his love of Ovaltine, a black and white stripped shirt, a picture of him from the 80s with a perm, his funny little dog called Sobria, mysterious weekly meetings pencilled in his day-planner (viewed by me on the sly and never discussed), feeling like a minx and an intimidated kid in equal measures, watching The African Queen at his mom's place, eating out a lot, and that one perfect moment at dusk in his living room.
I knew things were coming to their natural end when we were at his friend's birthday party playing Trivial Pursuit. A question about Gen Xers was put forth and someone at the table pointed to me saying "Well I don't know if we qualify but she sure as hell does."
I found out later on that despite his feigned protestations I was not the first girl he'd dated who was fresh out of high school. I don't think he was a creep though, just a little lost. Hadn't caught up with his age. Now that I'm the same age he was when we met (and being lost myself sometimes) I can understand that a little.
I don't know why that one memory of sitting in his living room is etched in my mind. It had little, if anything, to do with him. Maybe it was just one of those instances where the picture you form in your mind about How Things Should Look coincides for a split second with How Things Actually Are.Who knows? I still get goosebumps though when, for a fleeting, minuscule little moment I feel like a grown up. It doesn't happen often.