Then, to my surprise, I met Marco.
I was going for lunch every day at the canteen from the University of Amsterdam, and so was he. He had been smiling at me and me at him. We just couldn’t ignore each other anymore. We were aware of each other’s existence. How can you ignore a friendly stranger?
So, one afternoon, when I was entering the sliding door of the canteen and he was coming out, I said:
"Hello, I’m Lara."
"Hi, I’m Marco."
And we both died. We collapsed while shaking hands, and the sliding glassdoor kept opening and closing intermittently against our bodies, while people around us started panicking.
"What happened?" someone asked.
"I have no idea!" someone answered.
"Maybe they took drugs or something," someone said.
However, Marco and I didn’t realize until much later that we had died and fallen to the floor. We just walked on through the door, without knowing that we were entering another dimension.
From that day on, we couldn’t stop talking. Time seemed to stop every time we were together, walking around town feeling as if we were in a dream, or just sitting in the sun, warm and happy, looking at people and freaking out about the most amazing things that nobody ever noticed.
We couldn’t quite believe that we had finally found each other and that we could see the same things. Somehow Marco reminded me of Gil, but the connection was even stronger.
Very soon we concluded that together we were repeatedly under some kind of spell, in which everything we said and did was as fluent and perfect as in a dream, and that the strangest creatures would cross our way just to entertain us.
They didn’t really exist, they were just there to assure us that we were inside a dream. Creatures like the lady with the Bambi toy stuck to her hat, who passed us by singing, very loud:
"And if I should stumble down this street, it’s all right, because I know that you’re my guardian angel!"
Creatures like the tall skinny black man dressed in a spatial looking suit, who was moving like a dancing snake, and almost getting into a tobacco shop.
Two hours later, when we passed the same street again, he was still trying to get into the tobacco shop.
Creatures like the heroin addicted girl who stopped in front of us and shouted:
"A hundred and thirty-six! That’s what I need!"
And then she left again, carrying a garden chair.
Or the Slavic looking man who appeared around a corner, shouting on a very noisy bike, cycling as fast as he could as if trying to jump into another dimension.
Two days later we saw him again, in another part of town, still trying.
There was the man with the big black mustache and the dark sunglasses, who looked like a cartoon from Warner Brothers, and just stood by the supermarket door.
He didn’t ask for money, he didn’t play an instrument, he just stood there.
There was the old man wearing a miniskirt in the park at night, who gave us sunflower seeds because he was cleaning up his bag, he told us. Then he said he had to put on his tits, and so he got two spongy pads out of his bag and placed them under his shirt.
After that, he asked us if we wanted to feel his tits to tell him whether they were any good. We did, and we told him they were great.
He had a girlfriend, he told us, he wasn’t gay. He rolled a joint to smoke with us and read some parts of an old Dutch book with a sailor’s accent. He did this in the dark, on the grass, holding a lighter.
Everyday things like this kept happening. And our conversations weren’t less amazing. We were quite obsessed with the theory of life being wrapped in a dream, and the more we believed in it the more everything became linked.
We saw Waking Life, the film by Richard Linklater, about this guy who couldn’t wake up.
The way he knew he was dreaming was by not being able to see the time on digital clocks, and not being able to switch lights on or off.
Several dream characters appeared along his path and told him things. A lot of things, which were too many and too fast to remember entirely, just like what happens in dreams.