Shall I Fall in Love Again? (Part 6)

When Lovers Become Strangers

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well, what else can you expect from the period between Christmas and New Year’s spent at home? I know you’re waiting for me to update you on the progress between Valeria and me. I can also imagine how complicated my love life may seem. In the first part of this series, I remember telling you that I’ve been in more relationships than I can count. Okay, maybe I lied. There’ve not been so many, and I think I can count.

Indeed, I’ve been close to quite a number of ladies at several points, but if I were to say how many I’ve been intimately involved with up until now, that would be just 3—Angela,Ann, and Princess. I’ve told you about Angela and Ann, but not Princess, and that’s what I intend to do in this part. You see, Princess had an aura of royalty that attested to her name, and I still don’t know whether it was her perfume, her carriage, her mannerisms, or the fact that she played the violinalmost impeccably. 

The first time I saw her was at a music festival where she did a rendition of Ruth B.’s Dandelions. I kid you not, I didn’t recover for three days. She didn’t seem like someone I would ever be able to talk to. However, the next time we met (at an open mic and art aesthetes’ hangout) I decided to walk up to her and start a conversation. The rest, they say, is history. Her smile was contagious, and her demeanour was dripping an atypical charisma, such that one would be tempted to label her proud. But she certainly wasn’t. She’s the kind of person who looks unapproachable from afar, but whom you discover to be sweet and gracious when you get closer. 

Princess was HER. Whatever we had was the longest, most recent, and it lasted for about a year and a half till things went south. Of all three, it has been the most outstanding. Each time I remember how we met, the lyrics to Dandelions come to mind:

“I’ve heard of a love that comes once in a lifetime | And I’m pretty sure that you’re that love of mine

Cause I’m in a field of dandelions | Wishing on every one that you’ll be mine…”

When we met, Ann had left me for another guy (despite having brought me to a point of radical vulnerability). I’ll spare you the details. I was still recovering from the shock of having all the eggs I put in her basket broken to pieces and was near giving up on love. That was perhaps my lowest point of depression resulting from a heartbreak, and healing didn’t seem possible. The reason was none other than how vulnerable she had me, and I felt violated when she left.

I met Princess when I wasn’t looking for love. I was broken and wasn’t yet thinking that love could cure me. I hadn’t yet been plunged into hopeless romanticism. I wasn’t bent against love, but I wanted to be on my own and figure life out first. But the charm of royalty that Princess had was one with which she swayed even the most determined of men. During the three days after her violin performance, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. The song haunted me for days. A part of me felt like she was speaking to me—delulu, I know, but the symphony seemed to cast a spell on me that I couldn’t resist.

Our first conversation was a delightful thrill. The most obvious thing we had in common was our love for art forms—music and poetry especially. Initially, I wasn’t exactly sure of what to expect, but I noticed we had very similar interests. In the next few weeks of our interaction, I was still not exactly interested in pursuing a relationship. However, I was quite curious, and it was this curiosity that fueled our friendship in its budding stage. I sincerely wanted to know what this lady was made of. I wanted to know if that external aura of royalty was only that—external, and a façade. I wanted to see her for who she really was, and not merely what she appeared to be on the outside.

And so, it began. She had a lot of boundaries and restrictions, and there were a lot of walls I had to break through to get to her. A month into our friendship, I remember an entry in my journal that read thus: 

“The times you feel like an indulgence I’m running away from

Though we barely know each other, I reckon with all those times

The uncertainties that becloud my erstwhile mind

Haunt my now weary soul like they never have

What does the future hold? Where shall the East wind take us?

What says the narrative I now behold? I nervously regard the prospects.”

Frankly, I didn’t know what to make of our friendship at first. While I was intent on getting to know her, it didn’t happen without me having to open up too. You see, Princess is probably the smartest lady I’ve ever met. She was inquisitive and always had a way of getting to me; her gaze was piercing, and she could always tell whenever I wasn’t saying the truth. It often scared me, but it heightened my esteem for her as well as her mysteriousness to me.

In time, as you would expect, I fell for her. Call me naïve, but I didn’t see it coming. I fell hard and long. Each further part of herself that she showed me made me love and want her more. Our convictions aligned, and she understood me perfectly. Princess could tell what I was thinking just by observing my gestures and mannerisms. I hardly ever had to do much explaining before she got how I felt. Maybe because she had experienced hurt, pain, and betrayal like I had.

Within months, I saw more and more of who she was. Princess was broken, perhaps more than I was. And I felt the consequences of that. While dealing with her, I learnt to be patient and understanding as she was experiencing healing as well. There was this time she pushed me away because she felt we were getting too close and she feared a repeat of her previous experiences. That exchange remains etched in the corner of my subconscious—her crying as she spoke hurtful words to me. 

There were probably a few similar occurrences, but I’m glad I understood where she was coming from and could reassure her that I was going to stay and hold her hand regardless. The understanding helped me manage my hurt and remain there for her as she healed. Indeed, the prickly, thorny aisle of love is trodden upon by patient, persevering soles. She saw me too. She saw how much of a mess I was, and she accepted me as I was. I told her my deepest secrets, even those I had never told Ann as vulnerable as I had been with her. 

Princess was an enigma. She is probably the strongest-willed woman I’ve met. While I was busy falling hard, she was restraining herself so she wouldn’t catch feelings, and it didn’t take long for me to notice. And so did my feelings go unrequited. She gave into our friendship as much as she could; she was there for me and was all to me that I neededher to be. But to feel the same way I did and indulge me in the euphoria of a requited affection was a luxury she wouldn’t afford me. I knew she loved me; but was it still love if it didn’t have the butterflies and ecstasy?

Sometimes, I thought myself a fool. Most times, however, I decided to focus on what we had, so I wouldn’t come off as an ingrate. I knew I couldn’t afford to lose this just because of something I wanted to feel. It was hard, but it was best—so it seems. Had she fallen for me, perhaps our friendship would have devolved very quickly.

Princess was my best friend; we laughed, joked, jested, prayed, cried, and walked together. We were in the same program for about 9 months, and we got to see each otheralmost every single day during that period. She was my perfect friend, and I couldn’t think of life without her. I sincerely thought we were going to get married; she was a very committed Christian and she embodied all the attributes I desired in a soulmate. I always wished Princess could be mine; in fact, everyone around us thought we were dating. But all I was to her was a brother and friend.

When our program came to an end and it seemed like she was leaving me (not just physically), I remember crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. Life without her seemed empty and unimaginable. In subsequent months, there were periods she needed to take time off social media (and me too) because of her mental health, and each time it felt like I was going to die. There were times we had disagreements and misunderstandings and things went sour. I recall once writing about such an experience:

“Each time you break your toe, my whole foot feels the pain | I’m stuck between trying to comprehend and not complain

I don’t know if you know what you do at times | Because I feel at the receiving end of the tides

Why does it have to be this way? | I guess there is indeed no perfect twain

Is it too much to ask for a week void of troubles | Just relishing my love with no fear or riddles?

Perhaps I’m feeling too entitled and know nothing | Or maybe I’m just at the receiving end of everything

It feels unfair I have to hurt this way all the time | I know not whether you’re even aware this time

Just kidding, you’ve never been aware at the instant | It’s always in the wake that you realise you flanked

Ought I probe and reconsider my ways indeed | Or it’s just another of the ways your pain makes me bleed?

God help me through it all: it’s His will | For He knows what’s best for us all, better still.”

Before long, I started hurting her as well, howbeit unintentionally. What else may one expect when two broken people stay together for long? Perhaps it was because I got tired, perhaps it was reactionary, perhaps it was because she didn’t fall for me as I did for her; I’ll probably never really know. 8 months after our program ended and had been physically separated, she moved elsewhere to start another program. There she got increasingly engaged, and we started drifting apart. 

Communication began to wane, and we were having more arguments and misunderstandings than we could handle. Checking up became a chore, and animosity toward each other began to pile up. More frequently than I desired, I found myself having ill feelings toward this same person I had loved so deeply. 

Later, I would learn that she became friends with some other guy, and my strong Princess fell hard for him. I understand that she couldn’t help it, and I acknowledge that I probably contributed to it. I also appreciate how open she was to me about everything as it happened. But it hurt. It hurt deeply that someone else got what I wanted. 

Today, Princess and I barely talk. This is the person I couldn’t imagine life without. We’ve had several conversations about our issues as we tried to resolve them, and they helped. But things haven’t been the same. Lesson learned? No matter how hard you fall for someone, when life happens, you will rise. You will live years without the person you think you can’t live one day without. When things end, you will hurt badly, you will weep profusely, and you will move on.

I probably hurt her more than she hurt me, and right now, as I look back and read the things I wrote about her when I was head over heels in love with her, I wonder if true love can be really so transient and temporal, despite feeling it so deeplyfor her. These are things I’ll never understand.

Anyway, Valeria and I have been talking quite a lot, and she told me she has a confession to make.

Mr. Ex

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