A gentle crash of waves against rock and stone from below pulls me out of an untired sleep. The cream yellow walls, the flowing white curtains spread from coast to coast of the French doors, and the perfectly colorless sunshine that only exaggerates the native spectrum have me in the state of mind where sleep is neither required nor necessary, but simply a tantalizing option. A mysterious figure in a draped, weightless collection of flowing fabric silently moves across my field of vision from the bathroom towards the ajar doors opposite. She slows to a stop and leans against the rod-iron fencing of the balcony, resting her chin in the palm of her left hand, letting her fingers delicately dance across her lips in an act of deep thought.
Too content to move, I stay in bed, close my eyes, and imagine the view she’s seeing now. The impossibly blue-green Mediterranean shifts its shape and color in a permanent state of uncomfortable indecisiveness. Buildings erected too long ago, too close to the sea hang firmly, but dangerously like a wall taunting God’s power.
The sounds of the ocean keep me comfortably in bed, but the sounds of the city invite a sense of adventure and discovery that make me want to experience more. She turns her head, meets me eyes, and says something predictable.
That seals it. We’re leaving. And plus, I’m hungry too. I hinge the lower three buttons of my white shirt, pull myself up to a seated positon on the bed where I no longer have to imagine the view, and wait for her to find something more appropriate to wear.
When we walk out the entrance doors of the hotel, I’m reminded how lucky I am that she’s local and that even though I’m not, I look the part. Tourists are the majority here and it’s nice pretending not to be one. I walk coolly, calmly, collectedly, and act unimpressed by my surroundings. My lover is an extrovert and since I’m neither talkative, fluent in Italian, nor seemingly drop-jawed by the views, my mouth remains shut. But a continuous stream of the buttery language flows from hers. Her words are directed at women selling beautiful craftsmanship, men making presumptuously inappropriate comments at her expense, and more often than not, the words are aimed at no one in particular.
I walk next to her, sometimes behind her, and find myself engulfed by waves of random thoughts one has in a situation free of stresses. I think about the architecture of the old city and its marriage to the Mediterranean. I think about her beauty and how everything about her seems to move in fluidity. Her hair and her clothing play a constant game of chase with her physical stature, only catching her when she comes to a stop.
We come to rest at a white, wooden table near the outdoor market. Like a child, I wait for her to return with a meal picked fresh from the people in their stalls. Surely, without her presence, I must now look like a tourist, and I hope no one comes to test my Italian to find out for sure. By the time she returns, I have thankfully been left alone with my continued thoughts. The intoxicating smell of the ocean air, the warmth of the sun, the feeling that this seems a dream.
During the meal, she tells me of a great, secret surprise. I can’t imagine how this situation could possibly become better, and though I’m anxious and excited in my own thoughts, I play it off as mild-mannerly as I can.
The sun begins to set, but the temperature doesn’t change at all. The slight ocean breeze picks up a touch, but only seems to enhance the situation’s beauty. We walk through corridors, squares, up and down staircases carved into the city a century ago until we come to a remarkable viewpoint. On a cliff high above the Mediterranean, opens from the city a wide, stone-carved public plaza. It juts from the rest of the subtle line work, so it hangs above the ocean below at an inverted angle. At its point, the ocean waves attack from all sides, but do so far below and far out of mind. The view, though relatively similar to our hotel room, is deeper and the changed, now colorful light has left the ocean bluer and less green. It’s simply a perfect place in perfect company. And the company, though local and ruined by the beauty of her everyday life, can’t help but be uncharacteristically speechless in a place she’s likely been many times before.
Once the initial sensory overload of the situation dulls enough, we become more in tune with our surroundings. The typical onslaught of city sounds and ocean crashes give way to music somehow even more fitting. Our focus is drawn to its origin – a stage at the far end of the plaza that provides its audience an ocean view left, and its performer an ocean view right. We nod in agreement that that is where we need to be.
As we begin our approach, and as the music becomes more recognizable, we can’t help but dance on our way to the energetic, fluid crowd the stage’s feet. A bar to the left is handing out cheap glasses of wine that would surely be expensive anywhere else. We grab a pair and pull ourselves deeper into the audience, displaying our practiced skills of dancing and accidentally bumping others doing the same, without spilling a drop. A saxophonist that a singer introduced as Venna belts beautiful harmony through his beautiful brass, while a singer, that the saxophonist introduced as Jada Maria, belts her beautiful vocals.
The saxophonist and the singer stop what they’re doing to introduce a name that the crowd seems particularly excited to hear. Jvck James. The man in question springs himself on stage with an energy and fluid contentment reflective of the surroundings, the audience, and the existing music. Now it’s his turn.
Jvck James takes a seat at a keyboard center stage and with effortless strokes, ends the silence. All at once, the crowd erupts in an explosion of cheers and movement. His powerful voice cuts through the sounds and the city in a way that multiplies its sensory experience. There is no conflict between the music and the place, only cohesive agreement.
“Does he even wanna claim you? You stay bragging ‘bout this life, only to find a preview. I guess the answer’s in the picture, but you blind. Blinded by the poetry, why play such a trickery? Find your way back to reality. Know your place.”
No thanks Jvck James. I’d rather continue living in this Dream Venue.