I can find romance in anything, like cycling in the rain along Scottish country roads, accompanied by the summer scent of wild garlic.
My tendency to romanticise is most useful when I am travelling and out of luck. I might have only had hand luggage with me for a three month stay in Greece, because I refused to pay for any extras on my flight. But even when I was reading the one book I could fit in my suitcase for the second time, on only my second day, everything was alright.
My first evening in the village, and after some nervous ‘hellos’ with the eleven Czech girls with whom I would be waitressing at the Beach Hotel, and a stuttered coversation with my Macedonian roommate Daniela, I retreated to the porch for some peace with my paperback.
But then Devid the Albanian came round. He broke my contented silence for the kind of stilted conversation that frustrated us both; he tried to articulate what he could not with the vocabulary he had, I was tried to forget ninety percent of the words I knew in English, so that he could follow me. With so little left, our chat went something like this:
‘What are you reading?’
‘A book. Comedy. Haha?’
I felt so stiff, so British.
I tried again. ‘Uhm. Do you like books?’
Devid thought for a minute, sat down on the concrete and looked at me.
‘Me? I don’t read books. If you spend your whole time reading about other people, you will never have a story of your own.’
He was right, of course he was, and his simple words struck me. Reading about Chloe and her addiction to shoes and men who were no good for her was not romantic. It was boring and I was being boring.
With that, Devid swung me onto the back of his moped and kissed me on a quiet beach, until the sun set and stars whispered across the sky. Not really. Of course not really.
In real life I just went round the corner with Devid, and watched him and his cousin Leonardi play backgammon. Ok, so I was hardly living the life of a main character. This was not even the life of the best friend. But it was a start.