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honesty

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.

I’m sorry.
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.

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!

It’s safe to say that I’ve had some pretty terrible relationships in the past, with men who probably weren’t the best fit for me. However, it’s nothing to regret or wish away. Every relationship we have will end until the one that doesn’t anymore. And every interaction with another person, be it for a month or five years, allows us to learn more about ourselves, as well as what we need from a relationship and a partner. However, this process of learning is made useless if we can’t articulate it. And so, bear with me as I try to define to you how I will know when I’ve found him, the man of my dreams.

He’ll buy me books. And not because I can’t afford to. Oh no. It’s usually a safe bet to assume that I’d rather live off cereal for a month than go a couple of weeks without the purchase of a new book. He will buy me books because he’ll know how very happy it makes me. He’ll know how in love I am with the weight of an entire world in my hands, and the smell and feel of the pages as I follow the author’s words on a journey unlike any other. And because he loves me, he will buy me books.

He’ll be nice to me. My parents have been married for 42 years, and when asked what the secret was to their success, the answer was simple. It was a reference to the film Venus, wherein a senior citizen explores a love affair with a much younger woman. When asked what it is he can provide her that no other man has given her before, he merely replies: “I’m nice to her.” This moment dictates my parents’ relationship in that they realised that it was the very least you could do for the person with which you intended to spend the majority of your life. So, the man of my dreams will be nice to me. And not because I ask him to be, or because he’ll feel he has to be. He’ll be nice to me, because being any other way towards me never even crossed his mind.

There will be no need to imagine the potential in him, or us, because it will be all I ever dreamt it would be – and more. This may sound like a tall order, but when it comes to forever and finding the one person next to whom you want to wake up for everyday of the rest of your life, we should never, ever drop our standards. He will be the kind of man with whom I can be whether things are going well or not. I don’t care if we make millions in our first year together and live comfortably for the rest of our days, or if we’re bankrupt and sleeping under bridges every night. He will want to be with me regardless, and I with him. It won’t be about putting off our happiness until things are better, because no matter how things are in that moment, happiness will be he and I. Together.

He will go on adventures with me – even if it entails nothing more than trying to find a different route home in the dead of night. Impulsivity is, I believe, the key to staying young. That doesn’t mean never making plans or sticking to the plans you’ve made. But there are few things more riveting than coming home one day to find both of your bags packed because he’s decided you’re getting out of the city for the weekend. Or perhaps, you want to try something new such as surfing or kloofing. If I suggest it, the best answer he could ever give me would be “why not?” It may sound a cliche, but I want to live a big and beautiful life – and he’ll want to live one with me.

As bad as any fight gets, I won’t be afraid that he’ll leave me. It may stem from the many experiences I’ve had with men over the years, or the fact that I never saw my parents fight and make up when I was growing up. But when I fight with him, I won’t be gripped by the fear that it will end us. It’s taken me a while, but I’m slowly learning that couples can – and ought to – fight, without it being the be all and end all of the entire relationship. And whilst I know I’ll still get scared, he’ll understand this. And he’ll remember to remind me, even in the middle of the screaming match in which plates and pillows are flying at one another’s heads, that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

He’ll be real, flaws and all. I don’t want perfect. I want flawed. Because I’m flawed. Oh man, am I flawed. These flaws will never mean we treat one another badly, however. And whilst we may take one another for granted sometimes, it won’t be too hard to remember how wildly, crazily and incomprehensibly we love one another. I want to know him, warts and all. And I want to be known. I want that connection wherein words need not be used, but everything is understood and clear. Even if we aren’t near one another the whole night we’re out with friends, a single look need be all that lets me know I’m the one he came with, and I’ll be the one he leaves with. And if that look has a smile beneath it that makes me blush, well, that’s alright too.

He will make me understand why cliches are cliches, and what all of those love songs were trying to say. The words of love penned by poets and authors will take on a new meaning, and every sense of mine will tingle with a renewed awareness. He will listen to me, he will hear me, and he’ll know when there’s nothing to be heard. There are so many things we can look for in our significant other. And maybe we spend too long waiting for a partner who ticks all the boxes. But I’m lucky, perhaps, in that I have a heart that let’s me know exactly what it wants. And so I trust that it will invariably shout and kick and scream with delight when it finds the man of my dreams. And maybe he won’t be at all as I imagined. Whoever he is, here’s hoping I have the courage to go and get him…

A broken heart sucks balls. It’s crap. If you asked me to choose between a broken heart and taking my chances with Hannibal, I’d order you to lock me up with the man and throw away the key. But what’s worse than the sheer agony of a broken heart, is having to bear the broken heart in public. If you’re at home, no one minds if you rot in your pyjamas all day, or work your way through every make of tissue, grading them on the efficiency when it comes to tear-wiping and the gentleness of nose-blowing. I don’t know how, but movies feature broken hearted men and women who look relatively decent and who can afford to brave the harsh light of day and not be accused of mimicking the living dead. I am not this fortunate. Not only do my bigger-than-average eyes go bloodshot, thus drawing attention to the leaky make-up streaming down my face (which I only put on in the first place, in an attempt to look somewhat normal), but I also cry. And not politely or delicately either. Oh no. Gone are the days of a ladylike sniffle. I blubber, often resulting in the term “ugly crying” to be used as a description. What follows is my list of the Top 5 worst places in which to have a broken heart.

1. On an airplane
This tops the charts as the ultimate horror setting in which to suffer from a broken heart. Not only are you shoved into the plane in a proximity to strangers than not even sardines in a can could even comprehend, but your sniffles and elephant-like nose blows announce to all on board that there’s need for a serious clean up in aisle 2.

2. The dinner table
Not only does one’s appetite diminish or expand when it comes to a broken heart, but in my friendship group, any dinner table event means one thing and one thing only: repeatedly singly me making an odd number beside an empty place setting at a table full of couples in soon-to-be-wedded bliss. Yikes.

3. On social networks
Let’s face it. It’s just added insult to injury when you end your relationship and several people ‘like’ the notification. But having to relive the loss in every photograph and wall post of the past, just kicks you when you’re down. Do me a favour ex-boyfriend, and stop existing. Delete your account and take all of the pain you’ve caused with you. Oh and running commentary, pipe down. Only asshole ‘like’ that a relationship has ended, for all of the world wide web to see.

4. At university/work
Oh, how sweet! You couldn’t have waited until I got home to rip my heart out! You just had to come and see me at university/work to get it done. In public. And in front of all of my friend/colleagues. Well, that was very kind of you. Why didn’t you just ‘tweet’ me? It’d have been far less degrading than sitting here trying not to fall to pieces as you walk away – and then having to go back to my desk and actually function.

5. Anywhere. At. All.
Well done. You have successfully turned me into a wreck. Love songs make me feel ill and if I see one more RomCom that leads me to believe that I’m the exception and not the rule, I may kill someone. By breaking my heart, you’ve stolen a piece of it that I can never get back. A piece of me that you will always hold until my dying day. So, let me give you some advice for your next endeavour into the world of love – advice I wish someone had given you before me. Giving up is for cowards. If you’re a coward, rather don’t try at all. No, we can’t be friends after you’ve murdered every trace of happiness we ever shared. Honesty is all I ever wanted, no lies or deceit.
And the next time you tell someone you’ll love them forever, just the way they are – mean it.

It’s your loss, I’m afraid. I’ve moved on. And whilst I’d still come running back if you were to look in my general direction with only the slightest hint of longing, I won’t let you know it. Instead I’ll carry out a flawless and evil plan in which you’ll get the message that I’m over you. Although not so clearly that you don’t realise what you’ve lost and come running to my house, begging for me back, with a boombox spouting love songs held up high over your head. Allow me to elaborate on my dastardly ways.

I’ll date. Oh man, will I date. If a man asks, I’m in. And because of the friendship status you’ve allocated to us, I’ll come to you for advice on how to let a man whose fallen for me, down easily. I will date. But I’ll never feel the butterflies I felt for you when I’m getting ready. And my heart won’t skip a beat when he leans in to kiss me. Whenever you kissed me, I could barely breathe. But with these men, my heart may as well have flatlined. And it’ll be your fault, because none of them will kiss me the way that you did, like that night when I fell asleep in the car and you woke me with a kiss that left my brain buzzing. Or all of those times we went on adventures, to mountain tops at midnight with moonlit ocean views. How can any other date ever compare? You’ve ruined it for them all. And for me, too.

I’ll pretend not to care at all. Oh, you didn’t know I still cared? Good. You don’t deserve to. And you won’t. So go ahead and tell me about all of the new women in your life, and when we’re out, why not flirt with the big-breasted blonde? I won’t betray my bleeding heart. Not one tear shall fall upon my
A cup chest. At least, not until I get home, and shut the door as you drive off none-the-wiser. If you don’t care, neither will I. Not out loud, anyway.

I’ll daydream. You don’t know it yet, but I was the best thing you never had. And I’ll daydream about the moment it dawns on you. It’ll be oddly wonderful. This look will come over your face, as if seeing me for the first time… And then you’ll pull me into your arms and promise never to let me go again. And until then I will wait and watch for that light of realisation to flicker in your eyes. I thought I saw it once before, but perhaps it was just a camera flash, or the flame from your lighter, or even the reflection of the moon. Whatever it was, it’d be helpful if you could have the decency to stop blinking, so I that can catch it when it happens, dammit.

I’ll break my own heart. You always said you knew me, but if you did, you’d know how loyally and hopelessly I love. And I know you won’t mean to lead me on, but I’ll find hope in every little thing that you do. And when you finally catch on to what it is I’m doing, and remind me (once more) of how you feel (or don’t feel), my heart will break. Again. And it’ll hurt. Until I resolve once more to win you back. By showing you that I’m over you. Again.