Sometimes, with people you feel a lot for, you know exactly what to say to them. You know how to say it in more than fifty different ways because you’ve practised it.
You’ve rehearsed it- out loud and in your head; you’ve turned it around, over and over, and over.
But you hardly ever know when to say it.
Every time you get together, inside of you well the urge to say, “I’m into you; actually I’m more than into you, I really, really like you, but even more than that, I’m in love with you. And I know it may not even be a surprise, because how else would I explain that every moment we’ve spent together these last couple of weeks has brought me out of so many depths I never even knew existed in me”.
But you don’t say it.
You fear saying it.
You’ve heard it said it’s a risky thing to pinch your heart with a needle and let it bleed slowly, in cursive, on the blank pages of “this is how I feel”.
Also, you know how things will change.
You know what you feel might not be mutual, and your hands turns to a violent sweat of “making things up in your head”. But also, you know the way things are now may not be all your heart wants it to be, but it’s the happiest your heart has been in months.
Looking back, behind the both of you were once happy and content hearts, and then it shattered into million pieces of debris, like a cursed mirror for making you believe you’ll never find love again.
But you believe that moments are people, and your thoughts traces back to that random Sunday evening after church when the two of you talked about how your hearts were left in the gutter. And then, like a real cliché you said, “we should meet up some time and talk some more”. And you do meet up, for “coffee”, except there were no coffee, just two hearts trying to taste the difference between salty and sugary.
Your heart goes back to every dinner spent together; every movie and the conversations thereafter. You realize how alike you are; how you share the same joy over a clean kitchen, and that washing cups and glasses first makes more sense than first washing the pots and pans.
You think back on that December 7th day out to Stellenbosch, celebrating your 8th year of freedom, and you discovered De Oude Bank Bakkerij; you had hugeeeee hamburgers and chocolate breadsticks on the beach, for “dessert”. Normally, these things only happens in movies, and you tell yourself that, but here you are, living it all, and time should please not move at the pace it does.
Both of you know what it is. It is there. You can feel it.
Its chemistry, its attraction and its pulling you towards each other; its two wills fighting for and against the same things all at once. There’s no definition for it, or maybe there is, but neither of you dare say it, because it is too sacred a thing.
And so that final weekend of Friday 13th fell on you like a tragedy, but a beautiful one. There was food in the making, craft beer on the floor, and music from 5 years ago. The conversations moved from the mundane to the profound and everything in between: the friendship; the fears; the dreams; the where-to and where-from; the promise to pray and believe for better stories and adventures.
It was so unbelievably magical.
Then came morning.
There was this moment; the moment we both dreaded and anticipated at the same time.
We were just sitting on the couches, talking about “this and that’s” of life, each of us glancing nervously at our watches from time to time. As if we want time to cease to exist so we could drink in the moment a little longer, but we knew we were too mature to even wish for such a thing. I told her, “Time is a slut, because it screws us all”. And she laughs, in that way only she knows how- the proof of laughter surely being some sort of healing potion.
When the time finally came for me to up and leave, I asked to use the bathroom once more, so that I don’t suffer the awkwardness of having to announce that it’s time for me to go. I had come on my mountain bike and would have to cycle only a few minutes to get to where I have to be next. To a world that seemed so far away, away from what I know I might never gain.
As I got out the bathroom, she was standing there with an obvious nervous look on her face, almost as if she’s deliberating with herself what should happen next. I was about to pick up my bag when she ask in the voice that only she knows how to make angel voices sounds like a million squeaking doors.
She asked, “Can I please get a hug?” In my head I said, “Yes! Yes! Hug me till I die. Hug out from me all the hugs I’ve ever had, even the ones that still hurts from the past. Hug me till both our hugs are through, and then hug me some more. Just hug me”.
Instead, all I could utter was a childish, “only if I can get a hug as well”. We smiled and held at what felt like we’ve been hugging that tight every single day. And with no words we talked, arms wrapped in a moment known as forever.
I closed my eyes and silently thanked God for giving me someone that knows how a simple hug can rob you of your entire vocabulary. One time I said, “Have you ever asked God to show you something true again, and then God gave you a person?” She knew that was meant for her.
As I drove off from her place, my heart heavy with hope and fear, I thought about a way of putting to words how I can make myself believe that the last couple of hours weren’t fantasy; that it wasn’t something I can read again, or press rewind on; it’s not a hard copy recorded moment.
In my heart I knew that Saturday was the last time I’m going to see her, and there were so many questions and topics, and song and smiles I wanted to share with her still. And so the heavens granted us another set of meeting and seeing, and gazing and holding, and “what does all this means”.
I was grateful. I thought I deserved it. I thought the heavens owed me a break after my heart was so ashamedly left stranded at an abandoned bus station.
I had four days left before my start of a new life, in a new city; a new chapter for building new stories and cry different tears, and I made sure I spent every moment of those four days with her. And like a culmination of the ages; like the coming together of everything sacred after the scattering of everything ugly, I spoke to her. I kissed her. I remembered what it felt like to hold her again, and how at home it all felt; how nostalgic it felt.
Not once did we think, “What a terrible mistake; what a waste of saliva; what an unforgiving act of sheer human weakness”. We never think of the worst things when the moment feels so right, because in all of us is this child-like belief that everything in life is always supposed to be beautiful; that clouds should forever be white and shaped like hearts.
We are not wrong or stupid to believe those things.
Inside, we are all wandering children. We are all looking for a belonging outside of where we already belong. Family is the safest place but our hearts yearn for more than safety. Our hearts crave risk and adventure, new beginnings, difficult conversations and all the forgiveness that was left after our crucifixion.
And so, like kids in the park, we swing back and forth between “I like you”, “I don’t”. “I want you”, “I don’t”. And then suddenly it dawned on me I did not like her anymore, and my heart was troubled by it. I feared what would happen now that I don’t like her anymore. Because now I don’t like her anymore, I LOVE her. I love her deeply, but I also remember what happened the last time I loved a ‘her’. I ended up with my heart on a sidewalk, and she got a return ticket to Thailand and Brazil, and a ring on her finger that wasn’t mine.
But love is the risk.
Love is the letting go AND the embracing.
Love IS the “whatever happens, happens”.
Maybe one day she will wake up and think, “boy, grow up, I need a man”, and things would change between us, or maybe one day the stars will sing to us “twinkle-twinkle” as she lays her head on the inside of my arm and curl up beneath me and say, “hey, do you feel like ice-cream? I feel like ice-cream”.
Then, and only then, will you know what a seductive form of madness love is.
Only then will love make sense.