It’s been a while since the last time I saw you.
I thought about you today and I remembered the end. The day I said “We can still be friends.” while you sat frozen in the car, wordless for the rest of the journey. You may not remember how I kept driving at a snail’s pace…as though the time it would take to drop you back home would be enough time to resolve the problems we’d been having. I replayed the words I’d uttered back in my head, shocked that I’d actually enunciated what I’d only ever thought to myself before. I willed myself to say I didn’t mean it…but once we reached your home, it was clear things were over.
As I made the last turn, you finally broke the silence and asked “What will you remember of us?”
I didn’t answer you then. I was too busy questioning my decision to let you go and was afraid that if I responded, I’d change my mind. We’d parked by the gate of your house, and with your hand on the car door, you looked back at me. Your eyes said “last chance” and your question hung in the air between us. But I still couldn’t answer.
So I drove away.
I remember anger. A deep, besetting anger that I harbored against you for those tears you constantly shed and the emotions you lost control of too easily. There was an even deeper anger that I held against myself for causing you to weep in the first place and for always taking you to a dark place no matter how I tried. I remember fights. Public fights, private fights. Fights so intense they extended themselves into my dreams at night and I’d wake up fearful…still angry.
I remember questions. “How do I know you won’t leave me?” “How do I know you won’t just do what the last guy did?” “How do I know if I should believe you or not?” I had questions as well, wondering why we were even bothering. I questioned whether I was man enough to walk away, until the day I told you…I can’t do this anymore.
I remember guilt. For constantly hurting you and never being able to do what you needed me to. Guilt for staying in the limbo our relationship had become.
I remember the letter you wrote me the next day, the one I left unanswered. I remember you kept sending letters…and emails…and texts. You didn’t understand my silence.
Neither did I.
But today I thought about you. For the first time in a long time, I thought about you…as I looked at my wife. She reminds me a lot of you. But with her I’m everything I wasn’t with you.
Like you, her emotions spill out like water from a broken dam and threaten to sweep me away in their fury. But with her I don’t fight it. I let myself be pulled in and sink deep into her chaos. Unlike with you, I actually want to drown in her.
Like you I wonder where her mind is most of the time. But if I question my sanity or hers, she just smiles at me and scoffs. “I hear you have a thing for mad girls” she’ll say, alluding to my past with you. I can’t disagree.
Like you she questions me. But not because she doubts me. She wants to know me inside and out. She wants to pull me out of myself, looking for the best parts to bring out into the light. You always struggled to get me to open up, but she does it effortlessly, pushing the words I would have once kept locked up, out into the open, where I can’t rein them in…where regrets are no longer possible.
Like you she dances. Winding, floating, undulating around me every night. She dances to the songs in her head or in her collection, giving herself the beat and melody, inventing new steps along the way. Unlike you she pulls me in, never content to just let me watch from afar. Now, I don’t struggle to match her steps. We fall into the rhythm her mind makes, and I can hear it just by placing my ear near her temple.
Like you she dreams. But she…she actually speaks of her dreams. Sings them to me in my ears and asks me what they mean. She relives them in front of me, capturing every last detail in her dramatic flair. Then when her recap is over, she pursues them, trying to give them life. She doesn’t dream that I’ll leave her, the way you always did.
Like you, she shouts in joy and pouts in anger. Her yells threaten to bring the walls down when she rejoices, and the heavens threaten to commiserate and pour down their anger when she frowns. But unlike with you, I can’t match her volume. So I just hold her tight. She’ll squeeze back, asking me to hold her “tighter.” I never can though. Because, I don’t want to hurt her.
You may be wondering if I wrote you just to brag about her. But I don’t need to. You already know my wife is amazing.
You know, because she’s you.
It’s been a while since you saw me last. The past me. The me who needed time to stand by the looking glass and wait to face the dark images of our problems. The me who needed space to breathe to realize I couldn’t breathe without you. The me who needed more time to grow up in order to grow with you. It took you time as well, to let go of the past, to forgive me and, despite the question you asked that day, to not remember us. You needed time to send us into the past so we could come into the future, to a new beginning. We both needed time to reach out again cautiously, though doubt threatened to overwhelm us both, and grasp for one another.
I’m not writing to check up on you. I know exactly how you’re doing. You know exactly how I am.
It’s been a while since that day. But now you’re only a room away. Even as I type this you call out to me asking “What are you doing?” in the sing-song voice I no longer run from. Now I search for it, listening to it, drinking in the sound of my name from your mouth.
I remembered the end today, but as I close this letter, I face my new beginning…you.
I am Naija Husband otherwise known as NH. Look out for more posts from me, and also check out my blog –naijahusband.com or drop me a line on twitter @NaijaHusband
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