The (Not-So) Platonic Before Trilogy

Five and a half years later after that ordinary day when the 6 AM train departed from somewhere in hinterland Argentina. The one time I got to engage in what felt to be a strictly platonic scene out of a non-explicit, PG-rated, real-life version of Before Sunrise. Those six uninterrupted hours were filled with flowing conversations with someone who held a passport that looked exactly like mine. It felt like reconnecting with a good old friend, who’s got a face of a complete stranger.

How did it not? We happened to grow up in the same Javanese town, albeit nine years apart. Attended the same state school before we packed all our belongings and built our next life chapters halfway around the world all by ourselves. Boston to him is essentially Montréal to me. Then one casual day in June 2017, threw ourselves onto two separate flights to check out the Patagonian sceneries, where we happened to share two neighbouring seats on the train home.

I can’t recall any other specifics about that particular day, except that I regret not asking for a contact, and immediately forgot his name because my mind was hurried with the thought that I might miss my flight to Buenos Aires, and subsequently to Mexico City.

Besides, this man in question is probably now married with one or two kids anyway – although I still wonder about his whereabouts every once in a while, when I feel like flipping through the random pages of a photo album from that solo trip.

This morning, I was jotting down the itinerary for my next month’s travel plan to cruise off the Mediterranean charms. A rather impromptu trip, but a much-needed one after two years being confined into one’s 50 sqm studio apartment thanks to the strange years that are 2020 and 2021.

There’s an old acquaintance in Sicily I’d like to see, or shall I say, I’d like to make amends with. And despite the nerves, I’m genuinely looking forward to that meeting too. After seven years of losing track of each other’s milestones, here we are again, trying to salvage whatever might still be left from the brief, on-and-off interactions we had for a while back in 2015.

None of us knows if we are still the same persons we used to recognize in our late teens – although most probably not. But perhaps at least we’re hopefully better suited for each other now that we’ve grown into two equally awkward young adults, both trying to find closures from whatever it was that we always left undefined ages ago.

Whether or not this would be a chance to partake in a more pragmatic version of Before Sunset – I guess both of us have to collectively decide.

Tonight though, I had a fight with someone I cared about deeply. I was complaining about his lack of common sense in certain recurring problems that were never fixed for once in the four years we’d been together. And before I knew it, my brain started to feel like exploding from having to reiterate sentences I’ve mentioned, emphasized, and yelled about way too many times in the last few years.

Naturally, my worn-out defence mechanism told me to just run.

So there I was, escaping on the spur of the moment to a nearby riverside next to a public park, ignoring the fact that the watch he gave for my 25th birthday said it was already 11:23 PM – meaning it wasn’t quite the best time for a completely unarmed petite lady to cry outside and be vulnerable by herself.

Twenty minutes had perhaps gone by, by the time I was having my last few teardrops.

Then there he was, approaching me after silently watching me weep for too long from behind the trees next to this bench I was sitting on. Pretending as if he was a charming, friendly stranger from outside of the town who was trying to find an address in the middle of the night. Jeez, I thought. Now? Really?

“What’s in the address?” I asked to merely entertain, remaining uninterested in his silly, unnecessary, and seemingly childish acts.

To which he replied, “I don’t know. Maybe you can come with me so we can find out together?”

I sighed, looked him in the eye for a minute while secretly applauding his irresistible wit.

But I eventually gave in. He’s too smart for me to ignore the entire night for he would just quickly find another way to lure me.

Another night, another scene. The time in his smartphone said 11:55 PM.

And so the final not-so-platonic Before Midnight scene materialized, as I dried my dampened cheeks with his crumpled handkerchief and he offered his hand. We walked together back to the car, his tired arm around my stiff shoulder. I leaned in to show my intention to reconcile, too shy to admit through verbal words.

We drove into the midnight, him muttering sincere apologies responded by my lengthy one-sided conversation about whatnot.

We made peace, again, like we always did.

I fell asleep and only woke up when the delicate sunrise peeked through the clouds along the horizon, its rays falling onto the car’s rear. Five hours later on a Sunday morning.

I guess I’ve had my fair share of these rom-com scenes for today.

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