When I picked up the book “Call me by your name” in the local English book store in Brussels, I didn’t know that this book would have a profound impact on me. Nevertheless I was immediately captivated by the very first scene when Oliver arrived in the little Italian village where everything happened. “Later,” he said, and just like that he changed the world of Elio. As the story of the love affair between Elio & Oliver develops, we witness so many beautiful moments that we once have created or would love to create in our lives. These moments gently rekindles the inner fire that might have snuffed out during the course of life. They are also like waves in the dark night, washing all the memories we have drowned on shore, leaving us shivering in the coldness.
When the book was published in 2017, it was not immediately picked up by the readers. However it became my favorite book of all time so much so that I recommended it to my friends whenever I had the chance. 10 years past. The movie came out and it became viral. Suddenly everyone was talking about “Call me by your name”. Finally the book got the attention it deserved in the first place. However, my feeling towards the book still stayed in the past. Maybe the lack of co-readers with whom I could share my feelings about the story in the book, extending to my own love/life stories, made me cherish it even more, as my own treasure, something I could turn to when nobody understood me.
I often imagined the places in the book, the villa, the towns, the apricot trees, the inn where they stayed on the last day… they definitely play an important role in romanticizing the story. When the news of the making of the movie was announced, I was excited, excited about finally being able to see these locations in the real world. I debated for a good few minutes before I started the movie. Lowering my expectation on purpose as precaution of disappointment, I watched it. I loved it. The movie. The book is still my favourite but the movie did the book justice. I was 35 then, long after my view on life/love changed, long after I settled down, and long after rationality took over impulse. The movie was a long needed shot of adrenaline to feel what I had felt and to re-live what I had lived.
When I started the trip to Northern Italy tracing the steps of Elio & Oliver, I was not only visiting the sights in the film but also commemorating my love stories, one in particular. The one I call my true love. The one that lasted short but never died. I was not sad. On the contrary I felt light weighted because I know I live in the present now and I am a different person now. Just like when I reached the villa where Elio and his family stayed, the iron gate was locked. High wall hides the villa far inside. Through the gate you could barely see anything, except a little path presumably leading to the villa. Or like when I walked a few rounds but still couldn’t find the cafe where Oliver played cards with the villagers. It’s life. Accept life and the person who I am now, cherishing the past, living the present and hoping for the future.
—- Text by Chris