Shall I Fall in Love Again? (Part 3)

Is a finished man…a man, too?

“Quite a long day,” I sigh, as I trudge along the sidewalk leading to my hall. The approximately 10-minute walk hasnever seemed so long; the path seems to expand the closer I draw to my destination. It is dusk. Reluctantly, as though to pass the time on this never-ending trip, I look up at the sky, hoping to witness perhaps some birds frolicking on nearby trees or roofs—or some other scene to distract me from my misery. I remember the other day seeing two crows side-by-side. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on. Single me felt mocked. 

There are no birds this time. But I am struck by the palette-like beauty that lies before me—a mesmerising tapestry of colours set on display. Surely, “my tired is tired”, but not so much  as to not notice the breathtaking array of vibrant hues characterizing the slow yet steady descent of the sun. It is done for the day, it seems. Though I can still sense the remnant of the rage I experienced from the scorch of an unwelcome harmattan sun earlier this afternoon, I somehow feel accompanied—we’ve both had a long, tiring day and are retreating home.

This is probably where I’m to reach my pocket for my iPhone 12 and “capture the moment”. But my deltoid and rotator cuff muscles are too exhausted for that. Also, my phone is likely dead by now. Then, I remember Anne. 

You see, Anne was the playful type. One of the reasons I was reluctant to ask her out was my fear that she wouldn’t take me seriously, or that she was probably just being nice and free with me like everyone else. Our tastes in music were unbelievably synchronous. She felt like my other half—literally—and she loved nature. We would go on long evening walks, and she always loved to soak in the sight of the beautiful horizon along with the gentle, chilly evening breeze. If she were here, she would have reflexively grabbed my phone and done the needful.

As my mind wanders on, I look intently upon the shades of tangerine, crimson, and lavender that cast a spellbinding spectacle on the world below. The sun sinks lower, and the fading light creates an ethereal glow, casting long, languid shadows across the landscape. As I observe the soul-captivating panorama, I can’t help but notice the intensifying sound emanating from loudspeakers in a nearby cafeteria as I draw closer. The song is familiar. I hum along, 

“When the tears are rolling down | Like a river to the ocean | And there’s no one else around | You won’t question my devotion | Everybody needs somebody | And you got me | I’ll be there for the highs and the lows | Give you mine if your heart gets broke | By your side when your heart gets broke… | I’ll be there for you

It is Walk off the Earth’s I’ll Be ThereAnne and I had done a karaoke to the song at a friend’s party before. That night, she deliberately got drunk and had us wait till 2 a.m. so I would take her home like the song said. I smile as a tear obeys gravity’s order down my cheek. As childlike as she was, being with her taught me to be vulnerable. She’d tell me, “(my name), it takes two to tango. I’ll hold your hand as long as you hold mine; I’ll be naked as long as you are. And guess what, I don’t like clothes, so forget about them too.”

Ere your mind wanders to lascivious quarters, what she meant was that she had a natural propensity to be open and vulnerable (which was true), and she wanted that of me too. She believed everyone had what it took to be open and that ultimately, fear is the reason we shy away from being vulnerable. She admitted that some are way less able to open up than others, but affirmed that given the right conditions, vulnerability can be learned. She was fond of saying “only vulnerable people can truly love—and that’s why true love is risky,” and I felt that. Was I ready to take the risk?

From Anne, I learned that the process of learning vulnerability—however arduous—is the sacrifice that both underpins and demonstrates true love. Whoever decided to take love’s route had signed up for whatever perils attended their way. Now, I have known this by experience, and no one can convince me otherwise.

However, I often feared that Anne would wrest my manhood (not the organ, please) from me as she rubbed off on me (again, not that). I had always believed that being a man was not being vulnerable—being steeled and impenetrable, if you will. Being a man was about not being swayed by emotions. As I look back now, I ask, was I right? Were my fears justified? Was the pursuit of love worth the ensuing heart-wrench? Just where was I to draw the line? How far could I go just to feel secure having someone “be there for me”?

I’m damaged. And the normal response is to push everyone away and keep my heart from further damage, as I try to findhealing. Yet I seem to be convinced that I’ll only find healing in true love. And so, each time, I chase. Again and again. Maybe I’m a finished man. Or maybe I’m just seeking healing. And maybe there’s something I know intuitively of love’s healing power that’s driving me. Maybe someday I’ll find it. Till then, the grind continues, innit?

As I walk past the gate to my hall, I finally decide to reach for my phone. With my AirPods on, I search my Spotify for Caleb Hearn’s Damage. It seems to fit the mood: Brokenhearts just seem to always heal.” Hopefully, this one will, I think, as I scroll my notification panel. My eyes catch Valeria’s response: “Sure, I’d be happy to grab a drink. Fridaynight is perfect.”

I fall on my knees at the quadrangle.

Mr. Ex

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1 thought on “Shall I Fall in Love Again? (Part 3)”

  1. Who wrote this?….. “Wordsome” but definitely worth it. A beautiful piece indeed. I hope love would reach you eventually cause it takes way more than understanding to write this. If you’re interested in ghost writing for me as well contact me via email.

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