Come Share My Cloud

Last night I went out with Iulia. I was leaning on the door frame and waiting for her, while she was making herself pretty in front of the mirror in the lobby. She was wearing jeans, trainers and a purple top. Mate lipstick, dark red, of chrysanthemum petals laced with white spots, as my grandmother used so say about those flowers from the garden of my childhood. "This shade of nail varnish is too fancy", I said. "It represents me." She was wearing that air of invincibility that characterizes her on most days.

Other days are neutral from this point of view, moments of vulnerability also occur and then it is not a joke!
We went downstairs and headed towards the tram station. Rain was looming. The black clouds that had appeared over the edge of the Town had moved to the opposite side, wary or postponing to show what they were capable of.

We got on the tram, at the end of its route, and we sat on chairs facing each other. Behind Iulia, a few steps further, a woman was sitting who looked a lot like Diana, my colleague from work, about whom I knew that she was living in this district. I was certain that the woman was her mother or perhaps an aunt, the similarity was striking. I thought I saw Diana heading towards such a body, towards similar worries and identical lines and I felt unsettled. "What were you saying?", I asked Iulia. I had not been paying attention to her, the image of old age, towards which we flow, had absorbed me. "When I arrived in Town, coming back from Scandinavia, on the station platform there was an white-haired uncle who carried, in a basket, tomatoes for selling. It was night, few travelers had got off the train and he was egging them on to buy, he was asking for two thousands lei for one kilo. I was coming from the world of supermarkets, with huge prices, of potent, sophisticated customers, with refined tastes and when I saw this poor man dressed in clothes that were tattered but clean, this man who had worked from spring to September to plant his tomatoes, water them all the time, take care of them, to sell them now on a few coins that were barely enough to buy him a bread, I started to cry. I couldn't control myself, the meeting with this incredible, naive simplicity of people from home, after what I had seen on the other side...", said Iulia. "A world heading for extinction", I said, affected to a certain extent, for I had felt her emotion.

We were both silent, for a while.

The tram attendant was putting on lipstick, watching herself in a small mirror, waiting for the departure time. A shop assistant, former floor neighbor of mine, before I moved into The House with Elephant, was smoking in front of a kiosk selling soft drinks. "She got married, for the third time. She is on probation with her mother-in-law", had said about her that morning another woman who was living on the same staircase, without me having asked any question. An old man carrying a trumpet and with a towel emerging from the pocket of his crumpled coat had got off a battered bus. He was returning from a funeral.

The tram had started, it was swaying and creaking below the passageway. "These birds are like rich people who live on the Spring Street", I told Iulia after a while, pointing to a few of them, beautifully colored, who were going to sleep in the Puskin Park. "There is one thing to have a nest here and another to live in the poplars in the courtyard of the Electroputere plant!"

"Wedding!", signaled Iulia with her head towards a crowd of people who, one after the other, were taking photos with the bride, dressed in her traditional white frock, in front of a restaurant. A young kid who was sitting in the tram, next to a bearded man, exclaimed enthusiastically: "Daddy, Daddy, look, a bridegroom!". Iulia looked at me, I returned the look and we burst into laughter. "Do you think it was a little girl or a little boy who hadn't noticed the bride?", I asked you, in my mind, same as I told you: "Did you read Blecher?", while we were passing in front of the street tables with old books for sale.

We got off the tram at the University and we crossed the street to the theater, walking up the path with tuberoses.

The gulls were drawing circles above the Art Galleries, and a little further, on the sky above church Mântuleasa, two gliders were floating lazily. I thought of Maria, she had taken some classes once upon a time, I would go with her, now and then, at the aerodrome I would lie in the grass and watch how the small, yellow plane was pulling the glider after it, setting it free only when they had reached a height of six hundred meters (I was studying the theory with her), then the large circles, the landing, but most of all how her cheeks were blushing when she was coming towards me.

We went to a concert, Gabriel was playing Dvorak, I knew the chords, I had listened to him practicing, in the past evenings, in the neighboring room. I had followed with interested how music was becoming more and more familiar to him, how he was befriending it as the evening of the performance was approaching and, from my listener position, the same thing had happened to me too. Matei came to greet us during the break, an old friend, not exactly close. He suggested that we went to drink something in a quiet bar, after the show. We agreed.

A pleasant man, not a stranger to that delicacy of eternal aristocrats. He told us that he was going through a rather difficult time, he had earned himself a depression after splitting with his girlfriend, at her initiative. I was listening with fits of sympathy to his stories: how he had left her the photos, the movies, the CD collection, the teddy bears. It was obvious that he had kept his thoughts, his attention directed towards her, that he loved her and the feeling was echoing in void, she had refused to participate any longer.

"Let me tell you a joke!", he said, at one point.

"Go ahead"

"Up in the sky there were two little angels. One of them was in the mood for a fight, the other was not. «You stay on your cloud and I stay on mine», says the first angel. «And I tell you: Come share my cloud with me! Then you answer: I won't! And we argue!» «Fine», says the second angel. «Come share my cloud!» The other: Hop! Jumps on this one's cloud. «What have we talked about? Let's start again! When I ask you to come on my cloud to say: No! And we fight! Deal?» «Deal. Let's do it!» «Come share my cloud!» That one: Hop! Lands on the cloud of the belligerent one. A new round of negotiations ensues and they try again. «Come on my cloud!» «I won't!» «Then I am coming on yours!». And: Hop, lands the rowdy one on the other cloud"

While all three of us were laughing, Matei added: "My girlfriend used to tell this joke really well"

Then he sipped a little of his juice.

"I don't know what happened!", he added.

I could feel his sadness, his nostalgia, the wish to return to the intimacy they had once built for themselves.

I needed fresh air and I pretended that I was going to make a phone call. I walked and I thought about Maria. It was raining heavily, on the sidewalks. On cars, on roofs, on leafs. On my umbrella.

It no longer hurt that she had left, I missed what I used to feel for her, I wanted another woman to take her place and for this to happen without delay. Some guarantees that I was not going to wait in vain would have been soothing too.

The rain had soaked my shoes, the lower rim of my trousers, I was feeling my feet wet.

("I don't want any filter between me and reality", had said Harald, a few months ago, while we were heading towards a garden where Iulia was waiting for us. A rain like this had surprised us and he had turned down the umbrella I was offering to him. We had drunk beer, all three of us, we were the only customers in that pub, we hadn't stayed in the garden, because the wind was knocking food lists and cutlery from tables, the waitresses were folding the table clothes hurriedly. And while we were talking, I had had a call from Maria, who was at a party. "We sort of got tipsy!", she had said, in a good mood. On my face had probably appeared the joy with which I used to speak to hers in times past, because watching me Harald had started to sing Love is in the air. "Iani has packed his baggage and is going back to Moldavia?", he was asking Iulia with a smile, while humming on).

I had walked as far as the Town Hall, I looked at the phone booths: "Come and see how pretending turns into confessing your feelings!", I told myself, rummaging after the card, in the pocket of my shirt. I called on the fix phone and she picked it up.

"I am sorry that you did not love me. More would have connected us than the chats on messenger and this ambiguous friendship"

"Excuse me?"

"Exactly what you heard! And I miss you"

"If you lived with me every day, you wouldn't miss me anymore!"

"Try me!"

I was laughing.

"No way!"

She was laughing.

"I called your mobile, a little earlier, but you didn't answer"

"My mobile doesn't work. I forgot the charger in the Town, but my brother is bringing it to me on Sunday and I'll go back to my little one!"

"About time!", I was making an allusion to the fact that I was shorter than her boyfriend.

We were both laughing. In other times I would have been certain that we were thinking about the same thing.

We stayed for around ten more minutes, after I came back to the bar, then we all left. We separated from Matei in front of the puppet theater, and I took Iulia to the tram station.

We waited. She was obviously thinking about meeting her colleagues, she was going back to work next morning.

"It is like I am going at school for the first time. I feel sorry, I feel glad too, and there is also a curious sensation, I don't know whether people will welcome me or will be upset, perhaps?"

"You'll find out tomorrow"

She got on the tram and waved at me, smiling, and I walked towards The House with Elephant.

I watched it reassured, from a distance. I was already feeling at home here, the atmosphere was relaxed, the loneliness comfortable, I had escaped the impression that I lived in a world of nervous, passionate, biased judges, created especially by C-B, but also by Florin, in the years when we had shared the same roof, communication blocks, frustrations. I opened the iron gate, I bent down and I smelled the queen-of-the-night flowers grown between the stone entrance steps. I stroked the dogs, avoiding however the hugs that they were offering; they were wet. Then I was walking along the corridor. At its end, I unlocked the door to my hermit-like room. The rain was knocking into the huge window.

I opened the umbrella to let it dry. My fingers found the tape with Neil Young, and the index pressed 'play'. I lit a candle shaped like half an apple, I switched off the light bulbs. I lay on the bed, looking up, and a few more moments passed until the beginning of the first song: Harvest Moon. I sang along, thinking of Maria: When we were strangers/I watched you from afar/And when we were lovers/I loved you with all my heart.// But now it’s getting’ late/And the moon is climbin’ high/I want to celebrate/See it shinin’ in your eye.//Because I’m still in love with you/I want to see you dance again/Because I’m still in love with you/On this harvest moon.

Then, waiting for Unknown Legend, I thought of you and, when its time came, I sang aloud, without caring that my aunt was hearing me, if she was not already asleep: Somewhere on a desert highway/She rides a Harley-Davidson/Her long blonde hair/flyin’ in the wind/She’s been runnin’ half her life/The chrome and steel she rides/Collidin’ with/the very air she breathes/The air she breathes.

I switched off the player.

I could not avoid the loneliness, but the silence could be broken. I had Maria's phone number. (There are other things that set you apart: she loved me, she doesn't run away, she participates). She was not asleep.

"How many times did you glide?"

"Is this what doesn't let you sleep? To one thousand meters, just once. Now I would be a little afraid. I was not at afraid when I did it. Why is it that we start to be afraid from a certain moment on?"

(Excerpt from The Sock of The Blues Singer, novel to be published)