‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.’ Louis de Bernières, wrote this in his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
Truer words were never written. It has taken me a while, longer than most to comprehend those words but finally I am at peace with the could-have-been that was us. I forgot about you for a while but then you started to infiltrate my social media feed and when I found a voice note from you this week, I played it. I listened and remembered fondly how these voice notes, scattered throughout my day, were like little precious jewels. My eyes would sparkle with a child-like delight every time I opened one. Your voice so comforting, familiar, calming. Goodnight baby, I love you. The last thing I heard at night, the first thing I awaited in the morning. Some days you would sing me a tune or play me a ‘special song for Fatiema’. Especially, after you’ve had your morning run or won your soccer match or had a great day at work.
And then just as I remembered that, I remembered all the other things. The parts where those very jewels, cut me like shards of glass. Your tone: cold, angry, distant, foreign. I remembered the rejection, the hurt, the humiliation. My oldest friend’s face as she found me distraught in foetal position, rivers of tears stinging my eyes after you broke my heart. And when you finally decided to face your own cowardice, more or less this time last year, the little jewels reappeared. Though they sparkled much much less. The trust was gone. And when I finally reunited with you, under the twinkly lights of the city, I never felt happier nor sadder in my whole adult life. For it was then that you too, realised that crazy stupid love was not enough. That you prefer bespoke shoes and well-cut suits, driving around the leafy suburbs jamming to Future, while I love meandering the gritty city streets in my ripped jeans and Stans with my earphones blaring some indie band you’ve never heard of. That you love tea and I am undeniably a coffee person. That the very things we love about each other, was now driving us apart. That we would never fully understand each other even if we spoke the same language. Don’t go, I will miss you, I said. I know, you said. I still love you, I said. I love you too, you said and will always love you…
…but I have to go.
And so you walked back to your car and I watched you drive away. Further and further until you moved on. And in time I did too. Your space in my head was replaced with people and new places, with new habits, with songs, with mantras and prayers, with food, with work, with books.
Your space in my heart will be filled eventually by a certain someone and this time, I hope he will stay, stay, stay.