“Do you wanna go?”, Yevgeny enthusiastically asked. He didn’t have to specify where and she didn’t need to ask. He had asked her many times before.
“Not now”, Yael responded in one of her various ways that wasn’t quite a yes, yet preserved hope by never being a definitive no. This wasn’t a technique of artifice, but a genuine reflection of how she felt.
Yevgeny and Yael had been best friends for years. Their easy relationship had them sharing their secrets: dreams, fears, worries, accomplishments, heartaches. They would often talk about food, work, music, art, and the existence or non-existence of gods, devils, souls, ghosts, aliens. Sometimes losing track of time, they would intensely discuss a variety of topics that stirred them, including whether time travel, worm holes, and infinite universes were possible and what it might mean. “Could we live on another planet in another galaxy in another time and still be best friends?”, one would ask the other. “Would we still be us?”
But they were also perfectly comfortable with long silences that many others find desperately awkward. If they didn’t have something to say, or a desire to say it, they both had absolutely no problem occupying their inner worlds, enjoying their own and each other’s company in a different way.
One of Yevgeny’s dreams — indeed, his biggest — was quite a simple one really.
Some people dream of becoming a surfer and living on Kata Beach on Phuket, while others dream of winning the lottery and living in a Malibu mansion, and still others dream of becoming president, CEO, or an astronaut flying to Mars.
But Yael didn’t have any dreams. She thought she might have had them when she was a kid, but not anymore. She collected other people’s dreams instead, much like some collect stamps or elephant souvenirs. She kept Yevgeny’s quotidian dream in a special place.
Yevgeny only really wanted to visit the Yamaha musical instruments factory in Japan, take in its industrial grandeur for a few hours, and them aimlessly wander the sprawling city.
He didn’t know what else he wanted to find, but he wanted to find it there. Besides Yevgeny’s dream of going there, he wanted Yael to go with him, knowing that she was an ideal dream catcher.
Yevgeny and Yael were never romantically involved with one another — sure, occasional thoughts had fired through their neurons — yet they were emotionally close, often playful and physical with each other, even affectionate, and always supportive. Many who didn’t know any better assumed they were a couple, which they didn’t usually clarify. In fact, they appreciated those erroneous assumptions. Despite having never kissed each other, let alone more than that, they once promised each other that if they ever visited the Yamaha factory together, they would also get married there.
About a month later, Yevgeny reported to Yael, his voice a little louder and higher than usual, that one of the keys on his Yamaha keyboard popped out while he was playing Take Six, his semi-improvisational and raucous version of Dave Brubeck’s famous piece. “How can I play Take Six without an A sharp?”, he frantically yet unnecessarily asked.
Yael put her arm around Yevgeny to comfort him as they sat on a bench in Sacher Park in Yerushalayim for several minutes without another word. Just two unromantically-involved lovers watching the world go by. “Hey Yevgeny”, Yael said matter of factly, while turning her head completely toward him. “Do you wanna go?” Yevgeny’s smile illuminated his entire being.