“What would you do if I asked you to run away with me?” Julie and I looked at him, then at each other, and then at him. My height, bright green eyes and black hair, an amused smile playing on his lips. Because we were in Dublin, I chose an answer I’d never used before.
“We’d probably run away with you.” We started chatting and he introduced himself as Graham, from Dublin, born and raised. He told me he played the bass and I told him I was an aspiring journalist. During our walk to the next bar, he pulled a book out of his bag: A. A. Gill is Away. I took it as a sign that this stranger off the street that I found so charming would happen to have a book of travel journalism with him in his backpack. He told me I could have it (three years later and I still pull the book out every once in awhile to smell the paper and reread his signature on the front page).
Late that night I got a text: “If you’re not busy tomorrow, I’d like to take you to the dead zoo.”
“The dead zoo?”
“It’s actually the museum of natural history but we call it the dead zoo. You’ll find out why tomorrow.”
He picked me up around one o’clock, grinning and upbeat as ever, and he took me to the dead zoo. He wasn’t kidding. It should’ve been called The Museum of Taxidermy, complete with a polar bear with a visible (and shoddily covered) bullet hole in its head. From there he took me to get coffee and meet up with his lovely friends. He suggested we go to an outdoor movie that night, so we bought tickets for the 9:00 show. I expected that I’d go home, change my clothes, have some dinner and meet him for the movie. Instead he turned to me with that bright smile and asked, “So, what should we do til then?”
For the next six hours we talked, we looked at books, we ate sandwiches outside and people-watched at Temple Bar. We toured the city, we went in search of ancient bog people, and we listened to live music over pints in a dark, dusty bar. And all the while we laughed and talked as if we’d known each other for years. It was so easy.
That night we went to the movie (Shakespeare in Love… crazy, I know) but it wasn’t flirty or romantic. We rolled our eyes at the same cheesy moments and I shivered against the cold and against the anticipation of what might come next. The movie ended in the dark square of Temple Bar and he asked if I wanted to grab a pint. I was low on cash and I was exhausted but to this day I have no idea why I said no. I was afraid to ruin the perfectness of the day or something equally ridiculous but I did, in fact, say no. He hugged me goodbye at the front gates of Trinity College and we parted there. We keep in touch via Facebook but I haven't seen him since that one untouchable day in Dublin.