Monday, January 22, 2007

A Night with Robert and Francesca

Thank you, Robert Kincaid. And thank you, Francesca Johnson.

Saturday morning, January 20th.

It was nine last night when I began to settle down after all the rush that went into the global launch of ISAAA’s Brief No. 35.

I got home, ate a light dinner, showered, and brushed. I thought I would go to bed and sleep dead and snore like a drunk due to the sleeplessness of previous nights, but NO. Though I had settled down, I still felt the energy inside me like a throbbing pulse that refuses to die down. And so fresh from the shower, and munching on a huge bar of dark Swiss chocolate from Claudia’s mother, I plopped down on my comfort chair with a comfort book and turned on my iPod speakers to high.

Shower + Comfort Food + Comfort Chair + Comfort Book + Music = Serenity. Tranquility. Calm.

Though I have watched the movie a couple of times before, I only had the opportunity to buy the book “The Bridges of Madison County” in October last year. And though I have had the book in my shelf for a couple of months already, I have never bothered to touch a single page of it. And maybe now is the time. And because yes, now is the perfect time.

I began to read Robert James Waller’s book while Clint Eastwood’s Doe Eyes played on my iPod. And on and on the haunting music went as I began to immerse myself in the world that belonged only to Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson. At that moment, I was not a mere reader anymore. At that moment, I began to move into a world of my own. A world I shared with Robert and Francesca.

I was with Robert in his green Chevrolet pickup, Harry, when he left Bellingham, Washington for Des Moines, Iowa to shoot the covered bridges for National Geographic. And then again, I was sitting with Francesca in her front porch swing, sipping iced tea with her when Robert came asking for directions to Roseman Bridge. I saw Francesca in her pink dress the night she and Robert danced in her candle-lit kitchen and made love for the first time afterwards. I cried with Robert the morning he left the Johnsons’ without Francesca. I cried with them when they met later in town and Robert could not get near Francesca because her husband, Richard, was with her. I cried with Carolyn and Michael when they read their mother’s letters and saw Robert’s cameras. At the end of the novel, I felt one with Francesca’s children when they gave in to their mother’s request that her ashes be scattered on Roseman Bridge, the place where she and Robert could finally be one. That they agreed to their mother’s request meant they gave her their understanding and to Robert, their respect.

I still could not sleep after reading the novel. But not because of the overpowering energy I felt earlier. At that moment, everything was silent, quiet... Everything in me was still. And I felt a certain calmness I have not felt for so long. And writing this now with Doe Eyes still playing in the background, I could hear Robert saying this to Francesca.

“I have one thing to say, one thing only; I’ll never say it another time, to anyone, and I ask you to remember it: In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live.”

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