Have you ever imagined The One? Their fingernails. Their lopsided smile after cracking and inside joke. Their crooked toes. Their smell right after a steamy shower, and at the end of a long day. How they’d know you better than you know yourself, and you’d want to be with them to explore both you and them. They would teach you more about yourself than your biased, overly self-critical mirror ever did, and you’d be high on the drug that’s their hair underneath your fingertips.
Have you ever imagined The One, and then met them? A chance encounter. A run in. A passing moment. A fleeting look on the subway at 2 a.m., and you regret ever having the fifth beer. You knew them all your life, since you first realised that adults pair off not just for procreation, like they taught you in Sunday school, but for fun. For support. For midnight sighs and giggles. You knew them like you know your own skin, every pore that you wish were smaller, every stray hair at the weirdest of places. You knew them, because they were the better you, personified, the one who would bring out your best. And you couldn’t wait to meet them.
Maybe you never did. Maybe life was ever so cruel. Maybe your perfectly imperfect other half lived and died a hundred years before you were born. Or just on the other side of this globe we call home. Maybe you imagined them so perfect, they could never live up to it. Maybe you imagined them so perfect, you could never live up to it, and settled before your time came. Maybe they never existed, and never will. A figment of your overly vivid imagination, wishful thinking. Maybe it’s the neighbour next door you never considered as you work nightshifts. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe you never even thought about all this.
Maybe you found one, without The, and thought, time’s a-wasting. Maybe you never even wanted to pair off, you are fine as you are, thank you.
Maybe all this is nonsense. Maybe I am rambling.
But once upon a time, in a far, far away country, there was a bored and dissatisfied PhD student, who looked for some carnal distraction in a steamy chat room and found more than he bargained for – me. And reader, to answer my own questions: yes. Yes.
To have and to have lost, or never to have had… the age-old question, and most would swear by the former. But to never to have fully had, just teased… isn’t that the worst of all possibilities?
There is a chance… there is a possibility… I wouldn’t say it’s exactly fifty-fifty… but both eventualities exist parallel in my presence, my mind split between two maybes… And I still don’t know. After all these years.
Like a knife twisting in my heart, like a bullet through my carefully collected autumn leaves of hopes and despairs… a few awful nice words. Awful. Nice. Awful nice. They stripped me raw and left me gaping, gasping, blinking to hold back the tears that were fighting to surface; I will not cry on cam, I will not cry on cam, I will not cry on cam. Damn it.
It’s okay to be vulnerable. We, I, should be able to be vulnerable in front of him. And images pop into my mind, of lying in bed with my ear over his heartbeat, crying as his fingers twist my hair and he murmurs it’s okay. But it’s not okay. I don’t want to go. But I could never tell him. It’s unfair, I finally admit, and he agrees. And it would be, it is, unfair of me to say this. It’s not his fault, is it. No. So why would I guilt-trip. I stay silent, and swallow the unshed tears, the begging, the ultimatum I would never win.
An admittance that he knows it’s selfish, but he can’t give me up. A silent prayer that he never will. A pinkie promise that we’d meet. An admittance that this is not a game. A prayer that the stakes and cards were dealt by either him or me. A promise I would never disappear.
I hate, I hate, I hate so much…. I wish… I wish… I wish even more…
And I ache.
He knows. He denies it. He admitted. I try not to show it too often.
It’s hard to be honest, when you are trying to spare other’s feelings.
I just need to know the sound he would make. The feel of his fingertips on my hips. The sated look in his eyes, with hunger barely curbed for a few minutes. The disappointment, if in the end, I would not be what I hoped.
A fleeting comment, we know those do not exist when all we have are words on screens, through screens, deformed by miles and miles of cables and cheap microphones. So when he mentions, just passing, something that renders the axis of my world useless and everything stands still for a moment, I know, he must realise what he’s done.
I want to say so many things. My thoughts are jumping around, perhaps it’s the drinks, perhaps it’s the awful tense background music, perhaps it’s the built-up frustration that he’s not alone right now and I can’t message lest…
I wish I could have told you earlier today when you called… I wish I had the courage, the words to form and spill from my tongue, but my brain was in overload, trying to cope after having not seen you for months, and yes, I do still hold back, select my words, and am not fully adept at censoring my censor. It’s self-preservation as much as it is fear. I do not want to whine, I do not want to pressure, I do not want to guilt-trip or sadden. I want so badly to please. To make it all better. To be the be all and end all. To be salve on all of life’s wounds. To keep you human. To keep you on your toes. To keep you amazed and hungry.
I imagine you sitting next to me right now, scrolling on your own laptop, trying futilely to catch up with work emails while I browse or read something. A snapshot of idyllic everydays, a sore wish we had everydays that were basic and unpretentious. Your neck would cramp and I’d lean on your right arm, rendering it useless to type, and you’d pretend to be reluctant to give up its function, but I’d know you welcomed some distraction. After half a minute, a minute, and you know I mean business, your left hand shuts the screen and puts first yours, then my laptop down on the floor. I roll on top of you to reach down and push them under the bed, claiming it’s to avoid any accidental trampling, but you see through my guise and pop a kiss against my temple as your hands encircle me. I lay my head against your chest and listen to that amazing orchestra that keeps you warm and alive underneath me. I even forget that this is quite uncomfortable and try not to consider it from your point of view. I need to touch you. I need to know you’re alive, here, with me, and not just a figment of my over-active imagination.
I need to know if the back of your knees are ticklish. If you snore as badly as I do. If you prefer to soak under the shower, or you’re in an out in less than a minute. If you are a grumpy riser or you can actually function at 7 a.m. unlike me. If you’d laugh at me crying on every single movie.
Once I met a guy… I’ve never told you… we chatted online for quite some time, but for the life of me I could not tell you what year it was or where I lived. All I remember is my scented body lotion that I teased him with, and his words like silky silver lapping against my desire. He made me feel like a woman, but I know I was not yet twenty. You remind me of him. Your words, your eagerness, your infatuation… my reactions, my daydreams, my mind that I lose when I think of you. I was happy. I felt wanted. But unlike now, then I felt strangely in control. There was a side of me I did not allow to surface, and thus he could never reach me. One afternoon we’re in the middle of it, the next minute, I have walked away.
For some weird reason, I sometimes remember back, and think, it very well could have been you. Younger, maybe still single? No, I don’t think it was more than ten years ago… But somehow, I feel like this has been in the making for ever.
If it was you… but no. It couldn’t have been. But if it was you… And I walked away…
I could never forgive myself.
Why did I bring this up? No idea. Ask the Bulmers bottle next to me. Maybe I just needed to confess… and I’m sorry.
I wish I wasn’t a secret. There, I said it. You know my closest friends are sick of hearing about you. They don’t think very highly of you. It’s my fault. I moan a lot, negatively, because I can’t moan underneath you more positively. But you, you don’t have friends sick of hearing about me… Nobody knows who I am or that I even exist. In a way, it’s good being the one who has privy to such a huge part of you, but being a secret for five years, well, it’s not easy.
Would you take me to the land of O, and put up with my un-lady-like snoring? Would I stay infatuated once you missed dinner one too many times due to your cells? Would you even want me? Would I?
So many questions that have been bouncing around my mind for half a decade.
I need answers. There, I said it.