They had their meals together, relaxed together, slept together, lived together – but they seemed miles apart to me during the years I rented a room from them. Perhaps the problem was too much proximity, too much knowledge of the other, as if they were one, not two people; as if they lived off each other’s soul – you know the thick, suffocating air that requires such ‘distance’ to be created.
They misheard, misread, and had to repeat each sentence, each word coming out of the other’s mouth. They always misunderstood the intended meaning, spending their time in lengthy explanations and irritable exchanges.
On a trip to Greenwich Park, last summer, walking in step, sighing simultaneously, they got distracted by the crowd on their Sunday constitutional and incredibly, they got separated. I can tell you, because straddling the Meridian, I watched how they scanned the crowds looking for the familiar grey of their outfits, but could not see each other. I could see both of them looking lost.
I was wondering whether I should rush over and point them to their other half, when I remembered Aristophanes’ argument in the “Symposium” – that the human being originally consisted of four legs, four arms and one head with two faces – and, well, I stopped myself. Zeus was said to have separated those early humans into two, condemning them to a state of perpetually seeking their other half. I strolled away, smiling. After all, who am I to argue with Zeus.