We have yet to travel the world, and our savings for the Round the World ticket is in dire straits. But we’re driven and passionate, and you can trust that our ten-year plan to climb Mount Everest will happen.
I think it’s important I remember that, too.
I had an aunt named Rose.
She was lively and determined. She hated people who were fake, in fact, anything that was fake. She, like me, had no filter, and if she’d ever thought twice before she spoke, she would never have said anything at all. She was brutally honest, and if she thought it or felt it, she said it. I’m sure you’ll agree that this kind of honesty doesn’t always go down well. As human beings, we ask for the truth but are often angered when we get what it is we asked for. However, this never daunted Rose. In fact it’s her words that I remember most.
My aunt Rose loved fiercely. She loved her friends, and her family with a fire that burnt strong and true. I remember she once told me, with a mischievous little smile, that if I married for love, I’d be materially poor. If I married for money, I’d be emotionally poor. And if I married a man with a foot fetish, I’d have the best in footwear that money could buy. The final bit was a fact she’d learnt from first hand experience, and a memory which always left us in a fit of giggles. But I know Rose married for love, and spent thirty years of married life filled with happiness as a result of it. And I know that I, too, could never marry for anything other than love – because Rose got it, and made me see, that if you found love – the real long lasting stuff – there’s a lot of other things you can do without.
My aunt Rose wasn’t happy all of the time. She had a life that wavered tempestuously and often found ways of kicking her when she was down. But I don’t have a single memory of her in which that sparkle in her eye didn’t grow to become a grin on her face, as she cooked up some new form of mischief with which to astound people. Whilst her body, as all our bodies, changed with age, her heart remained as youthful as ever. My aunt Rose never found herself out of place with young people, because the one thing she was always up for was fun!
I had an aunt named Rose, who passed away yesterday. I prayed for those she’d left behind, and I prayed for her – but some part of me knew she’d already found her way up to the angels in Heaven. She’d been reunited with her own mother, and her daughter, and was already causing havoc with the celestial beings around her. In my heart I knew she had begun to look down on each of us with the wisdom and love she’d always shared with me during each of our meetings. And I knew she’d always find a way to ensure her presence was still felt – in the final rays of the sun as it sets, and the ever-rolling waves of the ocean against the shore.
I had an aunt named Rose, who I am blessed and proud to say I knew.
I will carry her heart in mine. I will renew my zest for life, and resolve to live as lovingly and honestly as Rose did, never growing too old for a little fun and a good giggle.
I will never forget the words that she gave me on every occasion that we shared.
And I will never forget Rose, and her mischievous smile, and the twinkle in her youthful eyes…
I’m not crazy.
I know I might come across that way, and trust me, I don’t mean to. I’ll explain. My friends have always laughed about the fact that my mind never stops, and often the end result is that I’ll come out with very bizarre statements that frequently have very little to do with anything we’ve been discussing. At all. But in my head, I made the transitions, the connections that lead me to that point. And just because I didn’t say all of it out loud, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense… To me, anyway. Point is, I may have done that with ‘us’… Made the transitions and connections in my head and heart, that lead me to the point where I knew I liked you. So whilst I said it out loud, you were still several steps behind me, wondering how on Earth I’d ended up where I did. So, believe me when I say I’m not crazy. I just like you.
I will miss you.
I know it’s a really small statement to make, but people don’t say it enough – especially when it is exactly what they’re feeling. I think of everything we’ve shared, and how I went and messed it all up – because let’s be honest, I did a bit – and I have only one clear emotion (I refuse to ever regret anything) and that is that I will miss you. Time will heal us both. We will move on. In a few months, perhaps a year, I’ll find someone who’ll make me laugh and I’ll start to like him, instead. But I can guarantee this – I will miss you. I may not feel it every moment of every day, but there’ll be moments in each day – lots at first, and less with time. Perhaps a song will come on, or I’ll come across a line in a book that reminds me of you. Perhaps I’ll play that game we always used to play where we’d open a book and read the first line our eyes fell on as the answer to the questions of the world… Point is, I will miss you.
I didn’t mean to make a mess of everything.
It’d be alright, I think, if it had been the first time this time. But it wasn’t. And the more you seemed to point out where I was falling short, the shorter I seemed to fall. I genuinely don’t know if it’s just me who learns by making mistakes, but I seem to have made almost every mistake imaginable. And then I just make more. The first time, I got scared and ran away. And I thought you’d never forgive me for it. Then you got scared and ran away, and I thought I’d never forgive you. Then we forgave each other and seemed to launch into a whole new exciting and potential-filled phase… Until you ran away. Again. This time, however, I have to forgive you. Because you only ran, when I chased you.
I believed you.
I have this stupid habit where I believe people – I’ve researched cures for it, but there don’t seem to be any that don’t involve being a 99-year-old spinster with 17 cats whose fluent in cynicism. Not a great look for me. So, I believed you when you told me how important I was to you. And when you said we’d be friends for life in the very least, and that you did have feelings for me, it just wasn’t the right time… Well, I believed it all. I drank it up. I was onboard – hook, line and sinker! Even now, I’m not entirely certain that I don’t still believe you… I know. I’m a bit of a sucker for punishment.
Just that… I’m sorry.
On Monday, I’m going away. I don’t know how long for. I mean, I do actually have to come back – I’m unfortunately tied to various commitments that begin again in July, so disappearing into the wide world isn’t an option, just yet. But on Monday, I’ll go and I may come back after a week. Or I may not. Perhaps I’ll come back in a month. Who knows. And whilst I don’t know how long I’m going away for, or even where I may end up on my journey, I can tell you why I’m going…
I’m going away because if you asked me to stay, I would. I’d cancel my flight, get into your car, drive to your house, snuggle up on the couch with you, and stay. I would give up my adventure for you. And that’s the best reason I can think of not to. Whilst this may not make much sense, there is a point. Somewhere.. In all of my past relationships, I’ve given. I’ve given up things; I’ve given up myself; and my time and my dreams. I’ve given and given and given. And when it ended, I discovered, to my horror, I’d given so much that I had nothing left. I had given up pieces of my heart, my ‘ness’. So, I had to rebuild everything from scratch. And when I began this process of rebuilding, eight months ago, I decided never to deny myself something I wanted, for someone else who can’t give you a good enough reason to do. So, what I want right now, is to go on my adventure. But I can’t pretend that I don’t want you to want me to stay, either.
I’m going because if I stay, I will break us. I have never been very good at the whole relationships thing. It takes me a long time to love, yet when I do, I do so with a love that transcends gaps in distance, and lifestyle, and even logic. When I love, I am dedicated and hopeful. Every sign you give me – whether it’s intended or not – is one more sign for me to fall even more for you. And I know we said we’d just be friends and see where things went, but you didn’t help me when you kissed me. I mean, I have quite a few friends and you’re the only one that kisses me… So, naturally, I believed it meant more than it did. And when you didn’t make an effort to see me, in the build up to my leaving, well, it didn’t make sense to my head, or my heart. So, instead of ruining us by asking you a thousand questions so I can know exactly where I stand, I’m leaving.
I wish I felt as strong and brave as some people say I’m being. To walk away from someone you care about, and not only to walk away, but to hop on a plane and end up on the other side of the country… Well, apparently that takes some guts. But if I’m honest, and I do try to be, it doesn’t feel like bravery. Because when I get off of the train at the airport, I’ll hope you’re standing there. When I line up to check-in for my flight, I’ll listen out for your voice speaking my name, asking me to turn around and stay with you. And when I go through the gates, a hundred Romantic Comedy airport scenes will inspire my heart to beat faster as I walk slowly to the metal bird that promises to take me away from you, and any hope that I still might have…
Once I’ve gone, I’ll still think of you. I’ll hope that maybe you’ll think of me, too. Maybe, once I’ve gone, you’ll miss me. Maybe you’ll see who I am, and what I mean to you… Or maybe you won’t. And we’ll just grow further apart, until one day we’re nothing but the odd Facebook status update chanced upon on a normal Thursday afternoon. A flicker of recognition will cross your face as my name registers something to your brain; and a skipped heartbeat will jolt my heart as it recalls the feelings I felt for you…
So, I’m going away. But, dammit, I wish you’d ask me to stay.
Think about it.
When I was at school, I remember learning about a poem in English entitled “My Blue Umbrella”. The poem was about a child’s acquisition of language, learning the names of things. But as the child learnt the proper names for things, it lost its ability to creatively express itself. The title itself, My Blue Umbrella, was not in reference to a blue umbrella at all, but a peacock. The child, not yet acquanted with the name of the creature, had had to come up with a way of expressing itself. So, whilst we require language to effectively communicate with others, we lose something in the acquisition of this language. We lose an innocence and brazen creativity that we’re blessed with from the moment we’re born.
However, even once we’ve acquired this language and the words of the language to – presumably – express ourselves, our feelings and thoughts, to others without difficulty, this is often not the case. I read a quote once that states “language is the source of all misunderstanding”. And part of me has begun to believe this is absolutely true.
When we’re learning a language, be it for the first time or the tenth, we’re given words. But what we aren’t necessarily given is the meaning, to us as individuals, behind those words. Think about it. How do we know what nausea means? No one sat us down as stated that for us, individually, when we feel queasy, as if we’re going to throw up, then we will be feeling what is referred to as nausea. To complicate matters, look up nausea and it’ll define it as when you feel queasy; look up quesy and it’ll define it as when you feel nauseous. There are no hard and fast rules that what a word means to one person, it will mean the same to another. And it is this that really messes things up.
How can relationships end when people make vows to love and cherish one another, until death do them part? To all intensive purposes, to love one another forever? Well, because of the language. What forever means to one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll mean the same to another. The same with love. I tend to shy away from using the word unless it is absolutely the word for the feeling that I have, and it is for this reason that I’ve used it sparingly. But luckily, due to this over-cautious nature surrounding the word, everytime that I have used it, I have meant it.
I think we all need to make an effort to say exactly what we mean, and mean exactly what we say. If you don’t mean forever, don’t say it. Don’t love someone, don’t say it. Rather hurt someone with the truth, than protect them with a lie. We could all do to be a bit kinder to one another when it comes to our words. And maybe we need to start listening with a little more critical analysis of what it is we hear. I’m guilty party number one when it comes to dissecting every little statement a man makes in the hope that his “I don’t like you,” actually means “I will love you”. Talk about wishful thinking.
Let’s make a mid-year resolution. Let’s be honest with one another. Let’s listen and really hear what it is that’s being said. And let’s not waste time any longer on those who can’t tell us what it we want, and deserve, to hear. To a world where creativity thrives, and words mean what they say! Hear, hear!
There are a myriad of reasons why I can’t do this. I don’t really believe that I even know where to begin. But I can’t do this. And I’ll try my very best to tell you why.
I can’t do this because when you tell me that I’m beautiful, I believe you. And I can’t have that. I can’t have someone convincing me that they see beauty in me. If I believe you – and sometimes I do – then what’ll happen when you leave? Because you will leave.
That’s another one. I can’t do this because you’ll leave. You won’t know it yet, but I do. I’ll ignore the fact, however. A sort of emotional masochistic endeavor. But I won’t be entirely ignorant. I’ll convince myself that this time it’ll be different. This time I’ll be loved. This time you will stay and I can feel safe. This time…
What else? Well, for one thing, you have soft pillows. There. I said it. You want to know why I can’t do this, and that’s a perfectly viable reason. The pillows on your bed are so soft it feels as if I’m sleeping on a marshmallow – which actually isn’t as pleasant as it sounds.
I can’t do this because when you look at me, I can’t breathe for a second. And if you were to look at me for longer, with the meaning in your eyes that I hope to find, I’d die. Just keel over. You may not know this, but breathing is necessary for living. Yup. And your taking my breath away is for one thing, decidedly rude, and for another, impeding the efficiency of my living processes.
I can’t do this because you make me laugh – even when I’ve had the worst day. Your eyes captivate me. Your voice enthralls me so that I just want you to tell me stories all day long. I can’t do this because you have made me forget about the other 3,456,782,396 men on the planet. I can’t do this because if I did, I’d never want to not do it. I can’t do this because you hesitate when I tell you how I feel. You hesitate when I ask you to kiss me. And you’ll hesitate when I ask you to love me.
I can’t do this, us, love, because… Well, if I’m honest – completely 100% honest – I can do this.
And I want to. But if I need to find reasons not to, to protect myself, then I will.
Even if the only reason I can find is those damn pillows!
Reconnect with an old friend, or an old flame, a lost chance. Chat one day on Facebook. Comment on how many years it’s been. Accept when he suggests you meet up for a drink. Know it’ll be a once off. Put it out of your mind until the day arrives. Be nervous whilst you fret over what to wear. Don’t understand why. Eventually settle for the outfit you first chose. Go.
Smile when you see him. He hasn’t changed a bit, and yet there’s something different about him. Talk over one another at first, in the rush to catch up. Resolve to let one another take turns. Laugh at the things he remembers about you, and the one and only date you ever had. Smile slightly when he tells you that he’s recently single. Say good night eventually realising that six hours have passed and you didn’t even know it.
Be thrilled when he messages you to say how good it was to see you. Tell him the same. Say yes when he suggests you do it again. Go out drinking together almost every night for a month. Find yourself, on every one of those nights, in a drunken haze of happiness. Wonder why he hasn’t tried to kiss you yet. Try to grin when he tells you time and time again how happy he is to have found a friend like you.
Pluck up the courage one night after another drink-filled night out and ask him to kiss you. Sit with your heart pounding in your chest. Wonder if he can hear it as loudly as you can. Listen out for the beat of his heart, too. Wait for him to do or say something. Practically faint when he finally leans in and your lips touch. Lose yourself in the 3, 4, 5 seconds that you kiss. Hide the disappointment you feel when he pulls away again. Search for a sign of emotion; a sign that it meant to him what it meant to you. Ignore the awkward silence that’s settled in between you. Say good night without seeing a sign of anything at all.
Wait to hear from him all the next day. Jump out of your chair every time your phone goes off. Ignore the pit in your stomach each time you realise it’s not him. Hang around on Facebook on the off chance that he’ll log on. Get butterflies when he does log on. Ignore the sinking feeling in your gut when he doesn’t message you and then logs back off.
Regain hope when he eventually messages you. Ignore that he calls you ‘dude’, ‘bud’ and ‘friend’. Make plans to go out with his group of friends.
Spend the whole night checking his face and body language for a sign. When you say good night, notice that there’s something he wants to say to you, something that’s been on his mind. Hold your breath. Keep a straight face when he tells you how glad he is that the drunken kiss didn’t ruin the friendship. Try smile even. Say goodbye. Cry as you drive home.
Find yourself waiting for him to realise how he feels about you. Go on dates to makes him see. Feel confused at how he seems genuinely disappointed for you when the dates don’t work out. “You’ll find someone,” he says, trying to reassure you. Hate him in that moment because you have found someone.
Try not to let him hear your heart break when he tells you he’s met someone. Feign excitement at the chance to meet her. Hate her before you’ve done so. Hate that you like her from the moment you meet her. Hate how beautiful, intelligent and funny she is – love that she’s the exact type of woman he deserves. Hate the way he looks at her; the way he places his hand on the small of her back; the way he leans in and whispers in her ear. Hate that they have eyes for no one but each other. Hate that you have eyes only for him. Hate yourself. Love him even more.