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.
When it’s good, it’ll be right. And when it’s right, you’ll know. You won’t have known all the time, but there’ll be moments when everything is suddenly so clear that you can’t understand why you’d ever considered doing things any other way. When it’s good, it’ll be so right that to behave, think, speak or feel any other way, will be wrong. And when it’s wrong, it’ll be the worst.
When it’s good, it’ll be the best. And this doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be perfect. No one ever said that perfection was naturally the best. And whilst it may not be perfect, it’ll still be good. In a life where so very many things can go wrong, be wrong, feel wrong, the ability to recognise and hold onto what’s good may get a little lost. We’re so busy concerning ourselves with how the people and “traditions” of the world dictate us to feel, and who we ought to be, and what is or isn’t acceptable, that we lose sight of the most important fact: you get one life. One. And you’re the one who has to live it, everyday. So why would you choose anything other than what’s good, what’s right?
When it’s right, you’ll know. You can have faith in that. And when it’s wrong, you’ll know, too. The only thing that ever gets in the way in the pursuit of what’s right, is ourselves. We sit, and worry, and think, and wait. Instead of wondering who you are to have so much good, ask yourself who you are not to?
When I wonder who the people I have respect for are, my answers are probably somewhat unorthodox. It’s the man or woman who says “I don’t” when standing at the alter – arguably one of the most unacceptable places at which to be completely honest about how you feel. It’s the young rape victim who, pregnant with the rapist’s child, brings the child up to be the very antithesis of all of the evil of the man who caused his conception. It’s the mothers who love their children through the terrible two’s, teenage angst, drug addictions and worse. It’s the man who follows his heart in pursuit of the woman he loves, because even though his friends may tease him for being “whipped,” he’d rather sacrifice a man card or two, than ever risk losing her.
When it’s good, it won’t always be good, but it’ll be right. And you’ll know it. With every part of you. Once you know it, the times it isn’t so good will be okay. Because no one ever promised you that it would be easy, just that it’d be worth it. So, let go of the past. Let go of the fear. Start again. And this time, give more. Trust more. Love more. Find what’s good. Find what’s right.
Kiss me, stupid. And you’ll wonder why it took you so long to do so in the first place. You’ll blink when we finally stop, before kissing me again. Just because you can.
I am extremely dedicated when it comes to liking someone. I am picky, that’s for sure. I don’t just romantically like anyone. A whole bunch of things need to be ‘just right’ to inspire the butterflies in my tummy, and the sparkle in my eye. But once it actually happens, and I end up liking you, my dedication is quite spectacular. However, I am decidedly useless when it comes to romantic interactions with members of the opposite sex. I will probably end up screwing it all up in one way or another, leaving you decidedly certain that you’d never like to see me again and/or filing for a restraining order. That’s a joke. That’s never really happened… I don’t think. So, really, if there’s one piece of advice I can give you for when my heart quickens its pace in your direction, it’s to run. As far and as fast as you can. Or else face the threat of a hopelessly romantic and idealistic writer developing feelings for you.
And we don’t want that, do we?
Now, you may wonder how to tell if I like you; and what warning signs there might be? Well – and let’s all release an audibly loud sigh of relief – I will tell you. I have no illusions when it comes to just how tactful I am. And this means that I can tell you without a single doubt, that I’m not. Yes, I love words. I’m obsessed with them. But I don’t know how to not put my very heart into them. I may have an Honours degree in Performance, but pretending not to like you just seems futile. So, chances are, I will tell you that I like you. And it won’t be done in a simple SMS or in a blunt proclamation in person. Oh no. The romantic in me will come up with some plan that’ll see me jumping through hoops in an effort to perform a feat of emotional confession worthy of any RomCom. And as an added warning, it may include a mix tape/CD of some kind and/or photographs of the things I like about you written out on paper all around the room. When this happens, run.
Once you know I like you, because in all honesty, it will be impossible to ignore (I have been known to be as subtle as a falling tree), you may have a varied array of reactions. But be warned – the slightest bit of hope will see me resolve not to give up. I may have my own reasons, imagined or real. I’ll believe in facts as simple as the fact that I like who I am when I’m around you, or that we can talk about anything and everything for hours. Hey, perhaps our shared obsession with the chocolate flavoured Steri Stumpie will even be good enough for me. Whatever it is, if you have no intention of seeing what there is between us, it’s best you tell me as soon as possible and in as blunt a means as possible. And don’t even think about asking if we can just be friends, because I’ll need time to get to that point. Otherwise, I will daydream about you finally seeing just what we could be, and I’ll probably end up liking you more. And that’s no good for anyone.
At some point, it will all get too much. I may go on a rampage and drink too much, turning me into a sniffling and sobbing wreck. Ignore this. In fact, it’s best if you just leave. Because I have no filter, and will talk to pretty much anyone about how I feel about you. The next day I’ll realise what an idiot move this is, and I’ll also know I probably exaggerated a bit when I told the hobo on the side of the road that we were “made for one another”. But in those moments, I will believe it. So, I suggest you leave and pretend it never happened. Hey, if you’re up for a drunken screaming match at 4 in the morning, whilst I make proclamations about my feelings for you that I probably will never remember, stick around. That truly is some people’s ideas of fun. Just do me a favour. Note the following disclaimer, you have been warned. If you choose to stick around during my far-from-sober moments, you have no right to make me feel worse the next day by reiterating what an idiot I am when I call to apologise. I’m already beating myself up about it enough as it is. Don’t kick me when I’m down. That’s just mean, yo.
In the end, I will make many mistakes. I’ll like you too much. I’ll fluctuate between putting it all out there and telling you exactly how I feel, and playing hard to get. I don’t do this on purpose, you must understand. I do it because when it comes to relationships, I’m probably the biggest idiot on Earth. And not because I want to be. I blame my idealistic and hopelessly romantic nature, coupled with my moments of braveness which then result in me back-peddling as quickly as possible in an effort to not scare you completely away. So, let’s save ourselves some time.
Unless you like me too, let’s swear to conduct ourselves as follows:
When we both respectively realise that I like you, run.
Run far, and run fast.
Because I like you.