An International Orgy in Suburbia

tom-international

My roommates were not happy when I told them an Australian, two Israelis, and two Spaniards were going to sleep over on the weekend. When it turned out there were actually eleven Spaniards, I was promised a “good talk”, which has not yet occurred. The spoils will, I am sure, be worth the pain. For one weekend, my rural village became a breeding ground that spawned a transatlantic revelry, and the hell that we raised was festive to boot.

The Spaniards were unusually merry; they ate a lot while lounging comfortably on the floor, spoke loudly, and grimaced after telling their characteristically dirty stories – but in their vacant laughs there was a shade of disappointment, something that bespoke that there was more to them. Nevertheless they managed, in their role as skaters on the surfaces of life, to be the exact opposite of boring: I have never seen people further removed from dullness. Every word was loaded with an interest in life, a joie de vivre and an outlook of everlasting optimism. It was hard, being around people like them, not to constantly crack a smile and remember easier days. I have missed them much since they’ve gone. I will never forget one of the handshakes I received; the warmth and gratefulness for the company (not the “hospitality”, which is a non-compliment) the Spaniard so honestly espoused touched me so much it will stay with me forever.

The Israelis were not so warm. They had retained the wounds of their upbringing and conscription. Never quite could they get into the Spaniards’ feasting and laughing; they remained somewhat reserved, like the cowboy who knows he cannot fall asleep entirely, for fear of getting ambushed at night-time. Three years of compulsory military service is a lot, and it tainted their world in ways that every small gesture seemed to underpin. They did not mind, they said, sleeping on the floor: military service had them sleep in worse conditions. “We saw a lot worse too.” No one spoke about it again. All the same, the two of them were always ready to help out the others or offer a consoling word. Everything they did seemed honest – I would not believe it if someone said they’d lied about anything. Their presence, so solemn and almost meditative, but also kind and agreeable, added much flavour.

The Australian was a quiet, introverted man, always looking straight forward at some distant object with a peculiar innocence and expectation. I think he might have understood more than all of us what was happening there, how special those nights really were. When he did open his mouth, his language betrayed his innocence. He stayed with me for another week after the others disappeared, but the original magic was lost forever. It is like the girl you have one special night with and then never see again. The dollar-bin romanticist imagines you together forever, but the real romanticist knows the one night was enough. There is an implicit understanding there; knowing that to push it further and see what you had deteriorated and disillusioned is to destroy the original impression.

What exactly was it that went down? I suppose in the end not really much at all. We merely hovered towards an unseen goal, with vague expectations and indefinite results. It was a grand convergence of souls, a gathering of lost pilgrims, a temporary refuge from the bustling world. There was something special to the occasion. It was as if the last burdens were lifted from our heart, and we were finally free to exert ourselves, in timeless colloquy with foreign company, while the hours lost their clock. There is no final point to it, no great epiphany or life-changing realization. Just for two days, some strangers ceased being strangers. That is plenty; that is more than enough.

tom2_wbkaartjes

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