Seven years ago today, it was Friday the 13th of October, which is coincidentally the day that many Pagans believe brings love and good luck to all, and that was the day that Len and I went on our first date. We intended to catch a film at The Cork Film Festival where I was volunteering at the time. The film was sold out so we headed to The Bodega, a cute heritage bar where we drank a lot of vodka and talked very quickly for many, many hours. He drew a Venn diagram on a napkin to illustrate a point about distributive cognition and it gave me butterflies– I was a philosophy minor and I still am an utter logic-nerd. And he was so cute and such a philosophy-nerd that I was wholly in love already: I texted my best friend and flatmate Sarah Sullivan, “This guy has my brain,” to let her know that 1. the date was going super well, and 2. I had not been murdered. Later on, I told Len a story about my Romani family during the Holocaust. I had told very few people this story, and certainly I didn’t tell anyone that I was wishing I could pluck up the nerve to write it. After I told him, he said, “You have to write that. It’s a novel. I can see it.” I told him I was just a poet, but I thought about it.
After the Bodega and many vodkas, we snuck into the sociology building at UCC, where he was finishing a Masters in Sociology and I was studying travel writing through Hollins University’s study aroad program. We used the computers to plan a trip to Italy for artistic inspiration: I was writing a book of poetry, and Len is a talented visual artist and he always wanted to sketch in Italy. Obviously this was before phones with Internet powers. We went on that trip a few months later, and that’s where we decided, in Arezzo on New Year’s Eve, watching boys throw fire crackers at the train tracks below our apartment balcony, that we should just keep riding the crazy, unlikely train of our trans-national relationship and see where it takes us. I told him once that I can only feel comfortable in transit and it took me this long to realize that everyone everywhere is speeding toward something, and now I can sit down and write.
Today, seven years later, I am writing that novel. It’s fiction, certainly, and the characters are characters and not me or anyone else I know, but it has roots in that true story. That night of the 13th, Len told me he wanted to be a composer, and today he is at a piano lesson with a pianist and composer who he truly admires, and he’s already written gorgeous pieces. So tonight, Len and I are going to eat some raw vegan desserts and drink champagne and feel very luxurious and self-satisfied. Maybe we’ll get crazy and draw a diagram or two.