May 2001. Thessaloniki.

There was magic when we were together. As long as we could keep from sulking and from arguing it would be there, between us, turning being together into worthwhile activity in itself. I have so many memories of it.

Cleaning our flat in preparation for a dinner party, one May evening, I mopped myself into a corner and ended up lying on the sofa, waiting for the floor to dry, my heart bursting with happiness.

Sitting on the front balcony on a bright June morning, having breakfast, listening to the sounds of the neighbourhood, cars rolling by, people talking, the collared doves cooing.

Sitting next to each other on a wall on the island of Mykonos in July, or was it August? A temporary truce between us, ice lollies in our hands, we swung our legs against the wall as we waited for the bus, sunburned and salty, and, no doubt, beautiful.

A night in September when I stepped on some mayonnaise on the pavement outside some fast food place. I looked down and said that it was whipped cream, and he laughed at me and teased that it might be grease from the the Yellow Submarine — implying that I tend to see the world as better than it is.

A November morning when we got to the film festival just in time to see ‘Together’, sitting on the stairs because we hadn’t bothered to book tickets, and we had breakfast in the dark, sneakily. When we walked out we found the gulf bathed into the bright diffused sunshine that only a Thessalonikian November can provide, and we walked along the seafront feeling as if we belonged.

Sitting in the café where he worked with a new Harry Potter book and a lovely new umbrella, while the rain fell outside.

Walking through the night on the first hours of New Year’s Day, on my way to him.

But despite the magic and despite the almost transcendental love we had for one another we eventually ran out of moments like these. We split up, officially, sometime in February. That meant that he went out on his own a lot, and he ignored me when he felt like it; but we still lived together, in twin rooms at the back of the flat; we still made love; and we still argued.

“But why is it that you want to be with me?” he shouted.

I was surprised. That was a genuine question, thrown into the inanity of the argument. Our arguments had stopped making a sense a long time ago. By that time, sixteen months after we had first got together, he liked me as much as he was scared of me, and I was angry with him nearly as much. He was pushing me away, running away, and I hated myself because I wanted to hold on so badly, but knew it only made it worse.

“Because when I’m with you I’m ten times as strong. I feel like I could take on the world,” I said, sincerely, wondering.

“Yes,” he replied, entirely unexpectedly. “It’s like that for me, too.”

And then, somehow, we resumed arguing.

Oh, the missed opportunities. Sometimes I think they’re all we really had.


‘We’ll never get to Paris now’ is a Belmondo song, which you may be able to download here. There is also a wonderful Pinefox version, which you can find here. Go listen to it.