I woke up before my alarm. Seems like my biological clock has this instinct that my alarm is about to ring sometime soon. I check the time, 5:39AM. This means I can have a banana and go for a morning jog around the city. I changed into shorts and wore a hoodie on top, I braided my hair then took my camera – just in case I see something inspiring. I quickly had my banana then tied my shoelaces and warmed up. I mobilized my joints first then set off to a jog. I stopped by the dock where the gondolas were parked, the sun was shyly peeping through the clouds as the streaks made their way gradually to the surface of the water, sparkling like diamonds. I took a couple of snapshots here and there; I concentrated on the reflections mostly. I had to go back before it started raining, the clouds were a good indication that winter was right around the corner. I had this urge to paint, right here right now even if it rains. Actually if it rained, it would be so much better, I’d precisely be able to paint the reflections of anything, the reflection of the street lamp hitting a water puddle on the floor- oooooh I’d love that! I jogged back to my apartment. I stretched and did a few yoga moves, then headed straight to the shower. I got dressed in my uniform, had eggs and a cup of coffee then headed to work. I opened my umbrella because my prediction was in fact correct, not many people were walking on the streets of Venice. We didn’t set the tables outside due to the weather. Not many customers came. I hope they let me leave on time today so I can meet up with Young. I wonder where he is in weathers like this; does he have a place to live?
They gave me my coffee break way earlier than usual, I got out my sketchbook and sketched the buzz that I was getting from this environment and the way people moved when it rained. They took larger steps and at a faster pace so that they wont get wet from the rain. I had to get back, I hated being late.
Lo sma7ty? (Excuse me) Just as I was about to shut my sketchbook, this familiar phrase used back in Arabia thrilled me. I quickly looked up, hoping it was someone I knew. I miss my city so much, and its citizens! His expression barely changed when our eyes met, which is a rare thing. People tend to look surprised when they look at them, especially since one eye colour is different than the other.
Are you a street artist?
Do you sell your work?
No sir, but is there anything I can help you with?
I’m an entrepreneur, dedicated to the world of arts and craft that enjoys collecting masterpieces like yours.
Mashallah, that sounds exciting… Where was he heading? He seemed interested, I could tell from the way his eyes sparked. He was dedicated.
Indeed it is. You seem confused, I’ll start by introducing myself, I’m Mohammed AlFlani.
I’m Shamsa AlX. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too, I’m organizing an event in March – during art season in Dubai and I’d like to have your work there, if you don’t mind.
But I don’t have many paintings and I can’t go back to Dubai during March.
Are you studying here?
Yes, I am.. But I’m planning on changing majors.
What are you majoring in at the moment?
Well, I didn’t start yet I need to learn the language first then when I am capable I’ll major in Fine Arts.
Take my advice Shamsa, you don’t need to major in Fine Arts, you’re highly capable of entering some other major. You have a god given talent, entering Fine Arts as a major is just a waste of time. Look, I don’t want to keep you waiting, here’s my card. If you’re willing to join me give me a call. It would be an honor to work with you.
I stared down at the card for a while, lost in the depth of my thoughts. This is a turning point indeed; it could forever change my life. I have only a few months to work on a couple of paintings and display them but that will place so much pressure on me. I needed help, but it was my future that I was gambling with. I did not want to jeopardize it by picking the wrong decision, but deep down I felt like I should take the road to psychology and Mohammed clearly said it, I have the talent I shouldn’t waste my time studying something I already know. I’m currently in a time of great personal futuristic turmoil, where should I head to? I knew the right thing to do at the moment is call my mother and notify her, which I did. The conversation was short, straightforward yet intimate. We spoke for no more than 10 minutes, but we got straight to the point, resolved the conflict and ended it with peace. The decision is made. I quickly checked my watch I was running late, I had a minute left before the watch strikes 3:37. I excused myself from work and ran towards the meeting point, the rain droplets hitting my face and blurring the view. I made it in three minutes, I stood there waiting anticipating his arrival. My breathing was steady, the weather only got worse and darker.
I stood there for a while, I would check my watch every few minutes praying that he’d show up before 4. But he didn’t, and I was somehow certain that he wouldn’t show up today especially since I stood there for half an hour waiting. So I decided to change routes, head over to the Lombardi’s and discuss the situation. I had to notify them as soon as possible, then I had to contact the organization that is providing me with the scholarship. But I needed to talk to Young, I needed his input in this… Somehow everything he says is the perfect puzzle to these missing pieces. He is so knowledgeable, so wise when it comes to such situations.
Talking to the Lombardi’s was much harder than anticipated. Mrs. Lombardi ended up crying, she was not prepared to let me go, which was extremely cute and emotional for the two of us. It wasn’t like I was travelling in an hour; I was to spend 2 more days with them before going back to Dubai. Although it was raining, the Lombardi’s did not hesitate to take me out to dinner out of town (in Vicenzia- we spent more than an hour in the car to get there!). During the ride, they spoke mostly in Italian and Pietro did some of the translation for me. But I was so distracted, he was conquering my thoughts and I couldn’t snap out of it. Where was he? Why couldn’t he show up? Is he all right? I really hope so…
You okay? He whispered, his face was so close to mine, his pupil dilating, his eyebrows raised with concern.
Yes I smiled; I tried to secrete my feelings. His facial expression didn’t change, but he just nodded and fixed his posture.
Dinner took longer than usual, every second felt like an hour of torture. I know I sound ridiculously dramatic, and somehow as someone who does not appreciate his or her surroundings. But for a second, put yourself in my shoes, have some empathy… I am the kind of person who gets easily attached to things and places. But not so easily attached to people, and when I do so, I cannot reverse my feelings or detach myself. I attached myself to our neighbor’s son who handed me the art kit and never got the chance to get over him, we’re talking 10 years later. People move on, I don’t. And I have the same feelings, perhaps stronger, towards Young. Perhaps its because I see some kind of link between the two but I cannot seem to connect the dots yet. I concealed my feelings, almost dressing myself in a costume that reflected the opposite of my feelings deep down. Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time, in fact I did not expect the night to end this way.
Once we reached Venice, the Lombardis parked their car and we made our way back to my apartment by foot. It did not stop pouring and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. As soon as I unlocked the door to my apartment and we said our goodbyes, I entered and waited for them to leave so I can look for Young because that’s what my heart was telling me. There’s no harm in trying, and if you never try you’ll never know. I waited 20 minutes then got my umbrella and camera and headed out. It was 1:14AM. Not the best time to be walking in the streets of Venice, on your own. Push your fears aside, I told myself and I kept on searching. He ought to be here, somewhere… But I didn’t find him; the streets had a ghostly feeling. The rain had calmed down and I was nowhere near to walking back to my apartment. If you were superstitious, and believed in black cats and the bad luck they bring then you would probably hate your life if you were walking beside me. These yellow eyes just stared right through me, like a porcelain doll but meowing in a slow long way.
It was probably 8 degrees, I looked at the time; 1:43AM. The espresso I had earlier kept me fueled up. I prayed that I’d bump into him at this time, but that’s not possible. I went back to my apartment at 1:49AM. I pulled out my sketchbook and kept on doodling. The sun was starting to rise, I couldn’t sleep at all so I had a shower and headed out with my sketchbook and camera. The streets were still wet so I couldn’t sit and sketch so instead I took pictures.
I was lost in the beauty of the scenery, trying to capture every moment at its best. Shamsa? I jumped, dropping my camera on the floor. Sorry… I didn’t mean to frighten you… He said while picking up the camera.
Young! To my utter surprise, I embraced his presence with a tight hug; I didn’t want to let go of him. Was I imaging? Thankfully, I wasn’t and it was him! You have no idea how much you affect me… I was searching for you almost all day and night yesterday. But there’s a reason why I was looking for you… I need to tell you something…