The first time I met Charlotte Leslie, the one you see laughing with me in this picture, was right after Brexit. She was a speaker at a conference in Rome on the reasons why UK decided to leave the EU.
Everyone at the conference was a staunch ”Europeanist”, all markedly disappointed by the result of the referendum. At the time, Charlotte was an MP and had voted for Brexit. When the moderator of the conference asked her the fateful question, “Why?”, she answered with a rather simple analogy. When two people have been married for some time, and one of them is unhappy and keeps saying to the other, “Look, I’m not happy. Stop for a moment, and let’s talk. This is not working for me, and I don’t know how much longer I can resist.” When the other person continues with the same attitude and nothing changes, a time will come when the unhappy one will get tired of the situation and decide to leave. Usually, oddly, those left behind are astonished, as they would have never expected to actually be left alone.
Well, on Brexit I do not agree with Charlotte, and I’m not sure that the comparison works completely for a whole series of reasons that I’m not here to explain, because others have dealt with the issue on numerous occasions. However, even though I do not agree, Charlotte struck me because, in that sea of formality and contemptuous attitudes, she had smiling eyes, and her look was clean and sincere.
Less than a year later at a seminar in Spain, I met Charlotte again, and I also met Lupe. Lupe is the one who took those pictures of me and Charlotte, laughing ourselves silly. Lupe is a photographer. Actually she is not just a photographer, she is much more. She is so many other things, I am not sure she is even aware of all of them. At that time, I was going through a difficult moment. I felt I had lost my dreams. I could not remember where I had wanted to go when I started. And on that night full of moon, and filled with music, words, silence and Spanish wine; these two women, without even knowing it, showed me that my dreams were still there. They’ve always been there. I was just distracted for a moment.
That same night we sang and played and danced together, and Lupe and I finally told Charlotte, “We loved you guys so much! Why did you leave us?”. I don’t remember the answer, but I remember we chatted and laughed, sitting on the sidewalk until dawn. I don’t know if Charlotte had ever regretted her vote. I don’t know, if she could go back in time, whether she would vote for Brexit again. But, I thought it would be nice if political decisions could be made like this: dancing, singing and waiting for the dawn. Getting back our lost dreams. Rediscovering ourselves as humans, and starting back from there.