Had we but world enough…

Had we but world enough, and time…

Sometimes, a poet will start off with such a fantastic line that the safest strategy would be to stop there and not try to live up to it. Better to end with a great line and hope that the reader will have the patience to stay the course.

Sometimes, even the title will do. I read somewhere that Orson Welles so loved the title of Paper Moon that he told Peter Bogadonovich, I think only half in jest, that he should just release the title and not bother making the picture.

I guess what I’m trying to avoid saying is that I never should’ve gotten involved with her after our fantastic first date. Assuming that two passengers thrown together into a lifeboat from a sinking cruise ship could be considered a date, that is.

I wonder now if it was simply our refusal to face the sheer terror of being drowned at sea that got us to turn away from our fate and focus on each other instead. And focus we did, with the easy familiarity that only desperate strangers can share. All those Titanic jokes came easily enough, although I normally don’t discuss posing for paintings in the buff when I first meet someone, do you?

Anyway, by the time we got around to being terrified, a passing ship rescued us. After we had given our adrenaline its due (I tell you, sobbing uncontrollably is really underrated by the male half of our species), we met at the deck and decided to continue where we left off. Surprisingly, there was no awkwardness, although I didn’t really dwell on it at that point. We even joked about it being our second date.

It was a lovely conversation really. We spoke about everything we were interested in –- stuff we loved to read, things we found weird…

Everything, that is, except our own lives. I guess we still felt like we were on a sort of time-out from reality, as though life owed it to us in punitive damages after what we had been though.

In hindsight, I suppose we really should’ve told each other that we were married.

But then, “should” never entered the picture, or her cabin where we spent the latter part of our second date. For the remainder of our time together, we banished “should” from our vocabulary. It turned out to be easier than we had imagined – once we moved past talking, we found ourselves unable to really talk to each other again. It was like we had run out of things to say, even though there were things to be said.

When we reached terra firma and headed back to our lives-in-waiting, we didn’t even say goodbye.


6 thoughts on “Had we but world enough…

  1. That and This says:

    After that short story of yours (with the divorced English teacher striking up a chance conversation with this guy named Ram, her co-passenger in the bus to some hinterland south of Madras), this is my favorite!!

    You have a thing for capturing those all-too-rare moments when total strangers “turn away from their fates to *focus* on each other” (superbly put).

    “When we reached terra firma…” – Love how this could be construed two ways: As them rudely waking up to “reality” (a metaphoric “touching the ground” after, say, “a night spent in the heavens”) as well to the fact that their ship has (literally) touched shore, and their lives beckon.

  2. TNT says:

    Digressing… Arnold (younger bro, Diff’rent Strokes) is dead. Muchas sadness… You commiserate?

    Loved the show, growin’ up (could only watch on cable at grandma’s during summer vacations though).

    All good things, as they say…

  3. S says:

    “Sinking ship”, “desperate strangers” and “fate” — surefire ingredients for that perfect summery stew, eh? 😀

    Felt great re-visiting this time-capsule of a tale a whole year later, and rolling my eyes at my fascination back then with cheesy nicknames (“This and That”?? Just what was I thinking? LOL).

    About the story, it’s kinda sad that the (pregnant-with-promise) surge of spontaneity (“turn away from our fate and focus on each other instead…with the easy familiarity that only desperate strangers can share”) should so quickly (and invariably) coalesce into a certain smug, er, satisfaction (“once we moved past talking, we found ourselves unable to really talk to each other again”). But then I guess that’s the titular point…

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