“I think we should break-up, I don’t think this is working. I just…” I trail off as I say the words out loud, anyway I say it sounds harsh, cold and mean. Words that are used to describe me. I don’t want to be that person, but I refuse to stay in a relationship that after just two months makes me this unhappy I have to, no I need to end things.
Not just for me, for him, he is falling, I can feel it, it’s been hinted at and before he actually falls I need to stop him. He can’t fall not for me, I wouldn’t forgive myself if I allowed him to fall then broke up with him, even when I think of the idea of allowing him to love me, I hate myself a little, I can’t believe I’ve become this person, I roll my eyes at my own arrogance, but then it is true. He feels more than I do, he always did and that was why this would never work. When I felt more he was blasé, now he feels more I am indifferent. We are not on the same page, in the same book, we may even be in different library.
I jump as he picks up the phone, I’m scared because I don’t want to lose him but I can’t do this, I won’t, it’s cruel to pretend.
“I…” I begin, I hear him sigh and my heart which was never really invested wakes up from icey chamber to glance at me and shake it’s head, told you so, it says to my head, practical and logical, thought to cure itself with being practical but love is complex and despite this guy being good on paper, my heart doesn’t care.
What happens when the person that you love, does not die, leave but is simply lost. What happens with the love that you shared? Where does it go? Does love find news homes in new souls, or does the love inside you change alter, mutate become something other? Does it disappear slowly over time, leaking from your pores like water, before the well finally runs dry? Or does it shift from one person to the other, a new love taking the place of where the old love was, replacing the stored memories with new ones? I can’t justify loving someone that is lost, nor can I justify not loving someone that is here, so where is it, all that love that was shared?
I can say that I love him still; his departure did not teach my heart to forget. I can say that I know what it means to love. I would say I felt regret about being heartbroken now that the object of my affection is gone but I don’t, my heart is delusional in its patience as if he will return, breathing new life into this love affair I have paused since his departure. My mind understands, it does not accept but it understands. But my heart, hopeless and illogical, stubborn in its inability to see reason is patiently waiting, a timer not set, no end date required. But time will not wait for me, and though my heart is steadfast my head knows the truth.
Though the truth is slowly fracturing my heart, I will not bring myself to remember the past with regret. I have been in love and have been loved, wholly unconditionally and without restraint. I have loved and been loved deeply without abandon, cared for so sweetly that my soul has been imprinted upon. This phenomenon is rare. I know what I had was real. Even if I was only able to taste heaven for a moment, I am a believer for life, I have been converted. Even though only I know, even though I have no discernable evidence, I believe. I have lived in that feeling for an infinite moment.
Is it enough to believe in love, even if you are no longer in it? You have seen Heaven, but now you are on earth once more, so is it enough? Is it enough to know that it exists even if you can’t have it ever again? What is the point of love if when you scour the world forever you may only be a silent witness. Or is love, akin to a treasure map, a wondrous prize we hope to find one day, never really knowing what we will do when we reach the X on the map, is love about the possibility, about the hope of it.
When I was in love, I was afraid and content. The emotions warring within me. Part of me was afraid of how much I had given of myself to another person, and how much I still wanted to give. How integral they had come to my way of life, how they had woven themselves into the fabric of my existence, my happiness a fragile ball they protected just as much if not more than I had. I was astounded and suspicious. If love felt like this why wasn’t everyone falling? I knew the answer before I had even asked the question; to be in love was to be afraid, because this person, this piece of your soul could leave, or die or break you in ways that you would never recover. It is terrifying, and the more you feel the more afraid you become, but your heart does not cease loving because of fear, and I found that John Donne was right, winter will not abate the springs increase. There is no capacity for love, it just keeps expanding and expanding, the heart forever growing, gorging on the love it keeps taking, its appetite insatiable. It can’t stop, it won’t stop and a part of you marvels at the feeling. A little slice of heaven, immortal in our love for each other.
I was content because here I had what everyone was looking for and I had found it almost accidently, without really searching. It wasn’t happiness, although there was a lot of that or sadness though there was some of that. Love to me is being perfectly content. My body at an equilibrium where it wants for absolutely nothing because it had found it in him. He wasn’t perfect and nor was I but somehow we had found peace and I was content.
Even though I lost him, my love, our love is everlasting. That love that we shared was soul deep. I can convince my mind that he is gone, my heart may never believe, but my soul? That I have no control over, that is his, there is a space inside my soul that will always be his no matter who I end up with. He will own a piece of my soul and I will own a piece of his.
I open the door and standing there looking directly at me is Hershel, from my class, the quiet kid at the back who doesn’t really like to make eye contact with anyone.
I wonder if is he is lost and I’m about to close the door when he speaks.
“Good evening Riley, may I come in?” His voice is very deep for a twelve year old, most people make fun of him for it, or they used to, I haven’t actually heard him speak for almost half a year.
His voice startles me and I almost close the door anyway, except I don’t, but I can’t just invite him in either, he could be crazy, it’s always the quiet ones, that’s a saying for a reason.
I debate for a moment as he just stares at the ground, he has got really curly hair, it’s dark brown at the roots and almost blonde at the tips, he even has blonde highlights. It’s quite feminine hair, I never realised, maybe it’s the voice that threw me.
“Come in, but don’t touch anything,” I caution, before leading him up to my bedroom, Hershel is quiet, too quiet, I don’t even hear his footsteps behind me, freaky.
I sit on my desk and he just stands, eyes on the floor.
“I have something to tell you,” he says quietly.
I wait for him to continue.
“Go on,” I say.
I wait some more.
“Tell me,” I command.
“I remember that when Miss Brent died you spoke at the assembly, my dog has just died can you please do the same?” He asks.
I am speechless, not only do I not know Hershel, I didn’t even know he had a dog, certainly I didn’t know the dog well enough to write him an epitaph.
I want to refuse but I don’t because I like to think I am a good person which is how I ended up standing in front of a grave on Saturday morning, speaking about a dog I never even met before.
Hershel is quiet, but I can tell he is sad.
When I finish he just stares at the grave, then he walks away, I follow him, into his mansion, because he is rich, like famous person rich, given a tour of his house, that rich.
We walk into wealth and he just stands there at the threshold, during the tour I saw a gaming room, I want to go there but Hershel is silent.
Then the maid comes up to us with a lovely bouquet of flowers that would fill up my whole house, she tries to give them to Hershel but he is just staring at the floor again.
I take them and thank her, before reading the note out loud.
“We will send a replacement, love Mum and Dad,” the words are out of my mouth before I even realise what I am saying, I re-read it appalled, and I carefully put the note down.
“You may go now,” Hershel says looking at me directly.
“You can come with me, my mum is not a chef, but she’s making spaghetti and meat balls, I don’t have a pet but I have a little sister, she’s almost two and she’s basically an animal,” I say tucking a braid behind my ear as I take my bike out of the shed.
“You do not have to be nice to me because –”
“Because you lost your pet and your parents are mean, yeah I do, come on it will make me feel better.” I say grabbing his forearm and dragging him along, it’s awkward with my bike, and I scratch my leg but I don’t let go.
“You do not have to drag me, if it will make you feel better then I will come.” He says going into the shed to take out his own bicycle.
I laugh, “Was that an actual joke? I thought you didn’t even know what it was.”
Hershel smiles as both get on our bikes and ride back to my house.
This generation is apparently, impatient, well connected, but still so incredibly lonely, which is why despite the multitude of social media platforms and dating website, true love is still an elusive dream. It’s why we no longer fall in love, but the truth is we never really did, not really. We fell in lust, mistook it for love then coasted into friendship, but true love, the kind that is whispered before it disappears. Most of us don’t know what it is, and what is worse is, though we search for it, we don’t really want to find it, not really, we wouldn’t know what to do with it. Or we would convince ourselves it wasn’t real before letting it go.
Do we fear something so special that it is easier to convince ourselves it doesn’t exist instead of looking or believing, and belief is a difficult thing, because suspending our analytical overly critical and sceptical minds is beyond most of us, we want proof, and even if we are presented with it, we dismiss it as a fluke and ask for more. I would liken it to if 99.99 per cent of the population was blind and that 0.01 per cent could see, convincing the masses that there was another sense, would be challenging, almost all would be sceptical to the point of disbelief, others would be cautiously optimistic but in their heart of hearts still not believe such a thing were even possible.
I didn’t believe in love as a teenager, I thought it was good for stories, poems and films, but in the real world there was no space for something so fanciful, that was until I saw it. A couple changed my opinion almost instantly, and I knew as I saw them together I was witnessing something magical, my heart was racing and I was only a witness, stepping in to their bubble of happiness for an instant so I could taste Heaven and be assured of its existence. I believed and for the next few days I was euphoric over my find, energised by the couples love for each other and I wondered if that was attainable why wasn’t everyone clamouring to take a piece of that extraordinary experience for themselves? I realised that love was like a fairy, you need to believe in love in order for it to appear to you, but unlike a fairy, love doesn’t require your belief in it to validate its existence – it will exist with or without you.
Most people want to believe but they simply don’t and the others that do, are delirious in their happiness and their fortune and despite this they still find it difficult to validate and proof it to others. Why? Because it sounds far-fetched, a fantasy, fantastical, too good to be true, they wouldn’t believe it themselves if they weren’t living it.
But I believe, so why wasn’t love immediately available to me. I came to the realisation that love exists it’s just not available to everyone. The reasons for this varies from person to person but the prevailing one that I have seen time and time again is that we are afraid.
It is this fear that holds most people back from even trying, or giving it their all when they do try. Love like everything else in life has to be fought for. Coming in with pre-conceived notions, or a dossier of demands is not going to work, there is no list or winning formula, it’s abstract because you fall. Like Dr Seuss said it is like falling asleep, you have to work towards it and allow a little bit of uncertainty to enter your life in order to fall, there is no safety net or harness a certain level of trust and openness must be had.
We are afraid of being open because it leaves us vulnerable. There is safety in sadness and misery or even indifference. Love is chaotic, complete with fluctuating feelings, differing attitudes, it is messy, but more importantly it is fragile because your happiness your wellbeing is no longer solely yours to control, your happiness is in the hands of another, and though you say you trust them a part of you doesn’t want to hand over the reins.
We don’t fall in love anymore but we should. Falling in love requires falling. It doesn’t always require some serendipitous moment, though that can happen. Most of the time true love is slowly building a foundation of trust, respect and companionship to reveal the diamond that is love underneath. It doesn’t sound as sexy as love at first sight, but it’s by far more beautiful and sustaining.