January, 2000. Thessaloniki.

That was the kind of afternoon that made you think something was about to happen. The darkness of the sleepless night before had been transformed into glittering light, both in the world and in my heart. In the world, it shone against the domed roof of the church; in my heart, it danced and turned somersaults. I noticed, for the first time that year, how the days were getting longer; I felt, for the first time in ages, the exaltation that makes the world look like it’s made up of infinite possibilities.

That was the night we got together.

“I’m leaving,” he said. “I’m going into town. Nothing will ever happen to me here. I’ve spent years of my life here, and nothing did.”
“You don’t have to go somewhere else for something to happen to you,” replied my almost-best-friend. “Perhaps the girl of your dreams will walk right through the door.”

And wouldn’t you know it? I did.

The north wind blew, hard and cold. We went into town together, and we walked around in a daze. Very, very late that night we sneaked into my bedroom, just for want of somewhere to go. Half undressed, we stood opposite each other across the carpet, one of us pale-skinned in white, the other dark-skinned in black, and for that moment before everything started we were everything at once: similars, opposites, lovers, fighters, friends — everything that we were and that we were going to be.