We first met on a cold rainy night in Amsterdam. I stumbled into casarobino, hair askew, holes in my shorts, soaked from hitching in the wet. He was sitting in a chair in the corner. Robino introduced me by a long series of flattering labels, most of which surprised me as much as anyone else. Charlie was introduced as Charlie.
Later that night, I discovered he was much more than just ‘Charlie’ when I was told he was CYCLING AROUND THE WORLD. Needless to say, as any newcomer to the bike touring philosophy, I was impressed. The next two months were spent in the same vain, impressing the other when it was your turn. We dumpster dived plenty, we snuck picnics into libraries, we slept in a bike by the beach… we fell in love.
Since then, I’ve heard him recount his ‘worldbiketour’ story over a thousand times and it’s lost a little spark. The impressed feeling has moved and morphed into a deep rooted respect. The lover he is, the friend he is, the man he is – shake me much more now than any mission label. He’ll bake you bread, fix your bike, fold you origami, sew your pants, build you a ladder, cut you a stencil. His talents still make an impression. But it’s more than that too. As any two hearts intertwined, what sooths the soul is the space between. No writing could describe the fluttering, the understanding, the inspiration.
I often wondered if any relationship could really reach equality. I mean where both people feel equally empowered, connected yet independent, simultaneously. I had experienced this, in fluctuation, where first one and then the other feels free… but at the same time? Was that even possible?
After struggles, ups and downs, thousands of kms cycled and a billion different scenarios played and then replayed… I realised it was possible and I was living it. Our roads often seperated, our physical selves countries apart, but somehow our souls stayed bound. We always had fresh stories, new lovers and new frienships to recount over a campfire by the bikes somewhere. Our random roads always crossed again.
Every goodbye (and there have been a lot!) was temperary, both of us blowing in the wind and free to float by again when it seemed fitting. Now though, he is going east and I west. This time there will be a big wide ocean between and no motorised vehicles to turn back the clock, flying into yesterday.
10 months later, Charlie has left. It’s getting cold again and I’ll be caught in the rain soon.