Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A stranger

This time last year I went around wearing a rubberband around my wrist - to prevent my thoughts drifting back to Mr Stupid. Each time it did I'd flick myself, basically training my mind not to dwell on the past - any kind of memory, bad or good that included him, I wanted to banish from my head. I'd have scoffed at this technique before, but I had a serious problem when it came to that guy. And I was open to trying anything that might have saved me any more emotional heartache and precious time preoccupied with a past that did not mean anything to anyone anymore. It worked. More or less.

At the time, an unnerving thought crossed my mind time and again - how on earth did I let myself get so emotionally vested on someone who just wasn't on the same page as me. But I realised I was done with all the 'whys' and 'hows' and 'why nots'. What I wanted was to just move past it. Put it behind me as just a bad chapter rather than a colossal tragedy that ruined my life. Take responsibility for my part in the equation and somehow forgive him his weakness and wrong-doings.

Afterall, was one who put my heart out to a guy who was indecisive from the start. The quintessential 'hot and cold' guy. He would kiss me one moment and pretend it never happened. Hold my hand after a couple of drinks and then fake an amnesia that he did. He would hug me to sleep if I wanted him to, wake up in the middle of the night to kiss my forehead making me feel precious and loved but the next day be remote and cold. He'd rest his head close to my heart, talking to me and holding me like he never wanted to let go. But the thing is... he always did.

He was my friend one moment, a lover the next and then a distant stranger.

And my mistake was letting him get away with it. I let him treat me like a friend and a lover at the same time although it was hurting me. I looked for instantaneous gratification with him, always getting carried away in the moment, rather than holding back and holding out for more - for him to actually step up, be a man and take responsibility for his words and actions. I let him back in my life again and again, whenever he came looking for me - whether this was a masochistic tendency, plain naiveté or an impalpable optimism which made me truly believe each time I let him back in again things would be different - I don't know. Probably all of the above.

I needed to forgive myself for falling in love with a weak man. A man who held so much of promise but never lived up to it. I knew he wasn't evil or bad or intentionally set out to hurt me. And he probably was looking for a friend in me. But his penis got in the way. And I needed to forgive him and his penis for that.

"You are everything I look for in someone" he once told me.

But when I asked "So, why not me?"

His reply was "I don't know".

Maybe he really didn't. Maybe he didn't want to hurt my feelings anymore than he already had. Maybe I didn't fit his convolutedly conditioned mind's ideal of a wife. So all the chemistry in the world and being his best friend didn't help. In his mind I just wasn't a 'fit'. And so, I needed to forgive his head for that. 

At the time I wanted to tell him this: "I feel you're making a mistake. I feel you're bound by some ideal in your head and you are not following your heart. I feel you're settling for mediocrity when you could have had more. I feel if you gave us half a chance, we could have had the time of our lives. But you've made your choice. And now that I think about it, I'm not entirely certain whose loss it is really."

I never did come around to telling him that. Instead I cut all contact with him and I moved on. Just like that, life happened and he wasn't in it anymore.

We bumped into each other in a bar a few months ago and he told me rather nervously that he was getting married. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shell-shocked. I never thought he was capable of such commitment but apparently I was wrong. I stood there, staring at this guy I once knew so well. He looked and felt the same, his musky scent, his wiry hair, the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes that accompanied his quick laugh. But he was a stranger. Everything was different.

There was a time when I thought a news like that would break me into a million unfixable pieces. I thought hearing it, I'd have a million questions to ask. But I didn't. Instead I hugged him, kissed him on the cheek and wished him well.

Life goes on.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The ghost of boyfriend past

He pursued me relentlessly. I kept bumping into him everywhere. The cafeteria, the library, the common area, on my walk back across the huge field after classes, in that little convenience shop on campus. At first I thought it was coincidence. Later I found out it was by design. He was stalking me.

The first conversation I had with him was when I sneaked away from playing squash with my friends into the campus empty hall to play the piano by myself. I heard this loud footsteps, purposefully headed towards me. I turned around and saw him there. He grabbed a chair and came sat next to me. I remember he asked me about the song I was playing a moment ago and then casually invited me to go to a fair that was in town that weekend. I don't remember what I said but I remember my stomach doing flips and my hands trembling when he walked away.

He was by far the handsomest guy on campus. Tall, broad-shouldered with a lean athletic build. He was the football and basketball star. He'd dated one of the prettiest girls on campus. But it had ended badly. Everyone knew. He was dark and brooding. With careless, unkempt hair and swag. He walked around campus carrying serious books like Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. He was a charmer and a rebel. My heart didn't stand a chance.

He asked me out a few times before I finally said yes. It was to the movie Armageddon and I had run out of excuses to say no. Till this day the Aerosmith song 'I don't want to miss a thing' reminds me of him. He terrified me somewhat with his intensity but thrilled me at the same time. I was enthralled. At 19, he was the most enigmatic person I'd ever met.

Of course I fell in love.

It was an incredibly hot, unbelievably passionate and awfully short love affair. The days and nights were a haze of endless conversation and lovemaking. We did it everywhere. Both, the conversation and the love-making. The phrase waking up making love to the wall made complete sense then, as even the nights not spent with him, I would wake up dreaming that he was touching me. One time I was away from campus for a couple of days, and when I got back he was standing at my door with a box of ice-cream. The look on his face was utter need and we didn't make it to the bedroom, the urgency of our need to be with each other so immense.  

And then one day, as if on cue, he broke my heart.

It was tragic. I suffered a kind of pain I had never experienced before. I rebelliously and somewhat stereotypically cropped my hair so short I must have looked like a boy who wore dark red lipstick everywhere. I bawled, weeped, screamed and thought I was going to die from my broken heart. But I didn't. I survived and started dating again. Even falling for someone else.

Things between us would have ended there but by some twist of fate, he walked into my life again. An older, supposedly wiser version of ourselves gave it another shot. It was less intense, he was less brooding. His hair was tidier, a product of conditioning at the workplace and he was less a rebel and more a responsible adult. But I saw sides of him this time that I only saw glimpses of before; his kind, giving and generous side. He wanted to provide for me and take care of me, not just get into my pants. And I fell in love with him all over again. It was like a grown up adaptation of our previous crazy, passionate love affair. I thought myself to be the luckiest girl in the world to have a second chance at my first love. It was my happy ending.

We talked of marriage and a lifetime together. Then, precipitously, I got cold feet. It got too hard, I had to make too many sacrifices, I met someone new. It was my turn to break his heart.

But he survived and moved on like I did the first time around. And yesterday (cheers to you, facebook), I learnt of his engagement with the girl he moved on to. I knew they were serious, but the news did make me somewhat sad, nostalgic and want to listen to Adele.

It was Jeffrey Euginedes who said somewhere that the greatest love stories don't have happy endings. If that were true, I guess this was my great love story.

A, I wish you the best. x