Lost Summer Love: Souls that Pass in the Night

Written by Karen Moller on July 12, 2012

The possibility that I might one day meet the man of my dreams took an unexpected and optimistic turn the night of the Redentore, a popular July festival held in the Bacino di San Marco, in Venice.

My girlfriend Emily suggested that we brave the crowds and take my boat out into the bay to watch the fireworks.

Dressed in her usual style–a light-blue, faded-cotton pair of dungarees and tee shirt–Emily arrived with food and half a dozen friends in tow, notably a man called Alain (who exhibited regularly in her New York gallery) and his part-time girlfriend.

She introduced him as an avant-garde American writer and eminent creator of Visual Poetry, a movement parallel to Fluxus which explored dimensions of language.

Alain’s face lit up with a glow of curiosity as he set down the bottles of Prosecco he was carrying and took my hand.

The charge was electric. Alive, every bit alive, was my first thought.

My second was the realization that few instances would ever match that moment of watching the sky reflected in the hazel green of his eyes and sensing the wild openness that beckoned me into his world like some kind of destiny.

Like an echo of my own thoughts he seemed to say, “Come with me. Let’s climb symbolic mountains and let life flow through our mutual desires.”

It was a moment of often longed for and much missed. Not only did we have many friends in common, but we had grown up with a similar love of the written word and a curiosity for the same kind of art.

We sat talking in close companionship as Emily drove the boat through the terrifying traffic in the Bacino do San Marco.

Unfortunately, that moment was not to last. It was soon shattered by Alain’s girlfriend’s screeching jealously from where she sat with other friends in the front of the boat.

When it seemed she was about to fling herself into the water, Emily whispered dismissively to Alain, “Go and do your duty.”

I watched as he made his way to the other end of the boat, his silhouette dark against the bright lights of the fireworks, my head filled with the thought, If he were my soul mate, the world would make more sense.

I turned to Emily and asked bluntly, “Why don’t I have a man like that?”

“Well, probably because men like that are afraid of independent women.”

Alain, she explained, had been married for many years to a mother figure, 22 years his senior, from whom he was emotionally unable to separate.

Now he spent a few months a year in Italy with a troubled, uneducated, young provincial girl, a kind of daughter figure to him.

“He’s in two unfortunate relationships that are both already over. He just doesn’t know how to finish either story,” her tone making it evident that she disliked both women and thought them unworthy of Alain.

An innocent lost in the decorum of trying to do the right thing, I thought trying to understand.

He seemed to sparkle like a firefly, and yet, at times, his light blinked on and off, as if he was suffering from some kind of complicated injury.

I tried to think no more about him, but I could never forget the feeling that he was the soul mate that life had destined for me.

Editor’s Note: Karen Moller, who resides in Paris, France, became famous as one of Swinging London’s key fashion designers. In the 1970s, she established a world-wide reputation for her textile designs. In the 1980s, she opened Trend Union, the Paris styling office that is now the virtual bible from which the major design companies begin their collections. Karen is also the author of  “Technicolor Dreamin’: The 1960’s Rainbow and Beyond,” and “In Her Own Fashion.” Thanks for sharing  your compelling lost-love memory, Karen.