Today is not a good day, for it is today that I learned that Maddy and John have broken up. I have not heard from them in three years. The last time I heard from them was when Maddy gave birth. John was beside himself with happiness, I drank wine on his behalf and I promised to come and see the baby one day...I never did and so three years went by. I was checking my mail today and saw a mail from another old friend of mine advising me to check my old mail box. My old mail box is the one that only very few people use...the people that I have a long history with. The people that I shared so much with and under so many years. People like Maddy and John.
I met Maddy and John almost ten years ago. I was twenty, I did not smoke and I did not drink. I knew who they were, the French couple that went everywhere together. Everybody knew who they were. They could often be heard arguing about politics and arriving or departing with rucksacks on their backs. It seemed they were determined to conquer all of Europe. I knew them because they were foreigners just like I was. We were all battling with a language that seemed to drive any sane person to drinking.
In the year that I moved into the house that would change my life, I was still a science student and hating every minute of it. I had been to the house many times before, as a guest. I drank my first vodka there and smoked my first cigarette there. I threw up for the first time there and also discovered I had good skills as a mediator, a role I soon became famous for in the house. I was the peace keeper, which was not an easy thing to do in a house full of young students of different nationalities. Tempers were often flared, mostly triggered by statements made by the French revolutionists, Maddy and John.
Maddy and John....who traveled to Bosnia to learn for themselves what the situation was because they could not believe the nationalist Croatians and Serbians of their conflicting stories.Maddy and John, who said they were going to see Istanbul and ended up living on a farm for six months...Maddy and John...who allowed me live in their flat in Paris for one month so "I could find myself"....Maddy and John who went to live in Zagreb for a year and then decided to move on to Finland....Maddy and John who have been together since they were teenagers...since Maddy had a scooter.
The day I moved into the house, I was not really sure who was living there and who was not. The house seemed to be a "stop over" house. I was promised a room of my own and told about the rent. The rent was nothing compared to what I had been paying earlier. Everybody in the house was on scholarship and making up our points was the biggest problem in our worlds. Apart from that,(the last minute frantic studying with cups of coffee) our days were spent drinking, smoking, arguing and...falling in love. Everybody wanted what Maddy and John had. Maddy and John were never on the same page in politics. If John understood the Croatians, then Maddy suddenly became a Serb patriot. You see...our house was a stronghold for the Croats, strong fierce students that had lived through the war and did not mind narrating the same stories every night...for years. It happened that we sometimes had Serbs in the house, after all, we were "love and peace", no discriminating. On such nights, my "peace keeper" role became very important
...Maddy and John...who came to visit me here...and Maddy told me she wanted a baby...and then left for Ecuador or was it Peru? Maddy and John who knew how to have sex "discreetly" in a room full of sleeping people...Maddy and John who were the last to get mobile phones.
In her mail, Maddy had said,"I know this comes as a shock".....
I looked at the mail and wondered, where did all those years go? Those years when we shared everything...we cooked together, ate together, washed our clothes together, smiled together, shared our dreams together....we took every student up on their invitations and traveled to Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia...we spent many nights together huddled under blankets laughing for no good reason...and when they fought? We helped John search for Maddy on the streets(she had a habit of running off anytime they quarreled)we drank with him and waited for her. We watched them make up and smiled with satisfaction when we saw them arguing again. Maddy and John were meant to be. In our world where nothing was ever stable, Maddy and John was the constant in our lives. Even after ten years, conversations with long lost friends could never go wrong because even if we had nothing to say after all these years, we could always talk about the latest adventure of Maddy and John.
We were all going to meet again in 2010...a promise made after one wild night of drinking when we realized people were slowly moving out... after Natasha lost her scholarship in the art academy...we saw it happening...the drinking, the drugs, the "warnings" from the university piling up...until she left.
We were supposed to meet in front of the hostel where we had once all lived...the hostel before the house. It had been Maddy and John's idea. We had all signed the paper. In 2010 we would all meet, and we were sure Maddy and John would still be together...they were meant to be.
"I know this comes as a shock" she had written...I look at the recipients of the mail...she had sent the mail to every single one of us that had lived in the house. I could imagine Natasha having a heart attack, somewhere on the beach in Split. Martin, somewhere in Argentina, phoning John and saying "Hey man, this sucks". Tina in Romania drinking a sherry or something and exclaiming in that tiny voice of hers "Fuck!". Mary in Sophia, already planning a trip to France...God knows she will be of no help...Andy in Ukraine just smoking another joint and saying "Jah knows best". Greg in Greece will probably just phone Martin in Argentina and rant. Sasha in Saudi Arabia will...
...so many names, so many memories...so many years...
I compose myself and write.
"I think it is time for an intervention...."
After all, I was always the peace keeper...shit...I need a drink.