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I believe you never truly fall out of love with anyone. The flames of passion may dwindle, and differences may make you grow apart, but for the rest of your life, dreams may come that will bring you back to the perfect moments of your heart when everything was new, when not a shadow of a doubt could cloud the tiniest smidgen of an instant with the object of your affection, and it had never occurred to you that could have any reason to fear separation. A dream like those has brought me to life tonight as the city dreams its own dreams in quiet expectation and preparation of a new dawn.

I wish I could give her name, for "she" must be; this is the story of a girl as many great stories often are, but her name is not mine to give here and now, nor was it ever. I could give her a temporary imagined name for convenience, but that would be a disservice she does not deserve, for her true name is one of the most remarkable, beautiful, and mellifluous names I have ever heard. Even if I could give it to you, it would have to be a crude approximation in the Latin alphabet that circumstance has forced her to adopt but which she herself doesn't fully assume. These Roman letters are ill-equipped to render what only Cyrillic can properly describe, and, oops, at least now I can tell you that I don't care if to Russian ears her name may sound ordinary, because to me it will remain as magical and mysterious as it became the day I learned to spell it the way it was supposed to be written, sadly, much later after it could have mattered to her, but I must hold my impatient tongue and not get ahead of myself.

Those who think that Russian is a harsh or cruel language or inextricably tied with the politics of a failed ideology have obviously never heard this sweet child of mine use it. For her, her native tongue was the only language suitable for addressing babies and cute puppy dogs, the language of song and poem, the language of play and jokes and friends and family. This is not to say that she was any less expressive in the French and English she had to use in our milieu, nor that her abilities to speak her mind to me in Spanish were in any way lacking. Her English was as much of a second mother tongue to her as it is to me, so I cannot be accused of poetic understatement. Rather, I can only regret that it was much too late when I learned a few words and thoughts and histories I could speak to her in a language she could hear. Anyone who thinks that Russian is a language only suitable for dogs and to be barked at soldiers of the Red Army has never had the privilege I briefly enjoyed of seeing an uncomprehending Anglophone child brighten up at the indecipherable sounds of my darling's smile.

I picked her up, found her, one day when she was rehearsing my own language, and I was not denied access to her world some time later, after a day of ice-skating on Beaver Lake. I curse myself for not knowing back then what this child needed, and even moreso for not knowing that she was a child in the shape of a woman, but how could I have known. Later, someone who had the gift to understand her thoughts as they were most faithfully formed explained these matters to me, but even he could not have known the things I learned in due time, the terrible secrets of her mind and body that explained so much, and that I should have guessed as you possibly are doing now.

I did understand then that this radiant gem I had found on a mirrored lake of crystals was never mine, and that she would never give herself to me, and that I could not become a part of her world, at least, not as I was back then, so unprepared. I tried to deny my lack of possession, and I ostentatiously showcased her, my discovery, to the rest of the world, a mockery of ownership I could not reveal. My friends soon became her own, but I could not acquire hers, just as I could not acquire her music or her stories.

Later, a year later, after I had learned to shape my mouth into some of the sounds of her honeyed Russian language, Русский язык, and long after it mattered, when we were living together as better friends than lovers, I discovered the things that happen to little girls that should never happen to little girls, and that sometimes mothers cannot even trust their own son to be alone with their little girl. I place too much importance in the language of the spoken word, perhaps, because I could see at that instant that the eyes of the Russian boy that had come to replace me (again, much later after it mattered) had not registered any illumination or comprehension. He was sitting next to us at the dinner table, listening to the same words I was listening, and with every bit of linguistic competence that I had, and he could not understand, as I finally understood then why the gem could not have given herself to me, and why the gentlest caress can be a rough touch that no lips, standing like two blushing pilgirms, could soothen with a tender kiss. It could be that this is why this Russian boy too in turn came to be a replaced with a hot-blooded Colombian and Spanish-speaker anew. For me, the story ends here, but I earnestly hope that hers still continues.

No, I have lied. My story was over much earlier than that. I knew it was over the night she worked up the poise to tell me why I should leave her bed, and when she told me about the boy she loved then, many years younger than her in body but perhaps not so many in spirit as I now reconsider it. I too spoke then of another love in my mind, but I swear that it was not in self-defense as you might suspect, but in defense of her, so that she could leave me with peace of heart and soul, so that she could be assured of my own well-being and could be free of all guilt, innocent as she's always been.

I did make one request, almost as I was standing at the threshold of her door and about to walk out of her life for the time being, one last dying wish in honour of the love I harboured for her and which I've never been entirely sure she never reflected back at me, at least in part. I've never been certain, because she smiled back at me, and honoured my petition. She walked towards me and wrapped her arms around my neck and the back of my head, brought her torso, hips, and legs as close to mine as the precise laws of physiques can allow, and gave me the kiss I had just promised I would never request again. She kissed me long and fully, with all the warmth of her mouth and body and being. She kissed me for all the moments we shared and the moments we could have shared, for all the languages we spoke not only with our mouths, but with our minds. I could feel that she had intended this to be a kiss for all of the brief past we spent together, and a toast to our future in our own separate ways, a kiss that would not awaken any passion, but would instead tuck it in a bed of red silk and roses for a temporary slumber until the next one we met could revive it in each one of us. She kissed me with all the meaning that she couldn't give me in the imperfect language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Byron; or Cervantes, Unamuno, and García Márquez, and with all the gratitude of newfound peace we were about to give to one another.

I was blessed with a kiss that no one else has ever given to me nor could ever give me again. It's a kiss that still comes back after all this time in my dreams and moves me to write these lines as the rest of the city dreams its own dreams in preparation and expectation of a new dawn. It's a kiss that resounds with different meaning every time I revisit it like a favourite worn and dog-eared novel, as I have revisited it tonight, so bright.

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