I had just spent the weekend in France.
As the Eurostar was entering the countryside and the sun was setting, a music started playing in the seat behind me.
It was coming out of one of those children's wind-up music boxes and the melody was from La vie en rose by Edith Piaf.
I got a jolt of melancholia.
It was almost too perfect,
the beauty of the sunset, the beauty of the melody, the music being played in slow motion, my leaving France (no longer my actual home but my original home, and the song, deeply, stereotypically French, reminding me of this, of my roots, of how much I actually miss my country), and the memory of the weekend.
It all came clashing together and seemed to crystallise into this intense sadness, this nostalgia that overwhelmed me all of a sudden, seeming to come out of nowhere.
It was too much beauty, too much than I could cope with. It was too perfect. If anybody had tried to construct this, I would've cried out for cheesiness. The corniness of it! Who would do that? But I didn’t make fun of the situation.
I was totally consumed by the moment. I didn't care about the corniness, I didn't want this moment to end.
The music stopped and then it started again a second time, and maybe even a third, I can't remember, I was lost in a daze of nostalgia. A nostalgia for the present, for the passing moment.
(Can you get nostalgic for the present? I can, and I do all the time.)
The slowness at which the music was playing, the excruciating slowness, was both unbearably beautiful and heart-wrenching. As it was winding down, as it was close to finishing and I could sense it was the last time, I didn't want it to stop, I wanted it to go on forever.
That's the strange thing, the very second you become aware of the extreme beauty of these improbable fleeting moments, you realise how exceptional they are and you want to hold onto them so badly, you would do anything for them to continue.
Even though at the same time they tear you up and break you into a million pieces inside.
They have a devastating effect.
(Is it actually liking the pain? The pain of the beauty and the pain of the impending end? Is it masochistic to want to hold onto that pain?)
And then after the moment has passed,
after the music has stopped playing and you become aware again of the people and the voices around you in the carriage, the other reality rearing its ugly head and setting in, replacing the beauty with its banality, its ordinariness,
you try to replay the fantasy, you try to get the feeling back, to get that magical concoction of conflicting emotions again,
the beauty/the awe/the pain/the sadness.
You try to fabricate it in your mind to get the beauty back.
But it's not the same. The moment has passed. It's gone now. And maybe it's better that way. It can't be fabricated. It can't be replayed again. The memory will linger, a trace of it. And the gratitude for that perfect scenario, that gift. It felt like pure chance.
How do these things happen? Who orchestrates them?
You were lucky to witness it.
That's all that matters.