I am sorry. I remember you saying once that I apologized too often, that the frequency of my apologies had led to them losing their sincerity. Perhaps you were right. I am sorry because I was afraid of losing you, of losing the comfort I felt when you rested in my arms with your head on my chest and your heart beating lightly against my ribs. I am sorry because I made grave mistakes with you. I let what I thought was pleasurable becloud what I knew was right.
My mistakes were amplified by the knowledge of you being someone else’s. It gets tough, sometimes. I looked up at the sky just yesterday morning and wondered if I had gone too far for redemption to retain its possibility for me. It was wrong from the start, when I picked watching a movie indoors over going to the dinner to mark the end of that conference, the one for accountants from various firms. I tried to convince myself that I had good intentions and I was too tired to venture out to a dinner at which I would feel out of place. That was true, in part. I am quite introverted. Further within, the truth shouted out amidst my feeble attempts to deaden it. You knew I wanted you. I wanted you not just to hear you talk, not for the warmth of your smile or the effervescence of your personality. I wanted you for the warmth of your embrace and the touch of your lips against mine, for the look in your eyes when you were unsure and for the calm volatility I felt whenever you were close by. I wanted you, for all of you.
In times like those, I thought I knew what I expected of myself; logic dictates that I walk away from complicated emotional situations, to avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else. Logic should rule over emotion. If only it were that simple. I made you sad, as the guilt raged within you soon after we parted ways, guilt which you sometimes tried to subdue, rationalizing and justifying the wrong we did as not cheating, as not hurtful to anyone else. We both knew the truth. You cried because you loved another, because you had pledged yourself to him, even if he was in a distant land. You wanted the person you were with me and the craziness which you were comfortable enough to let out. You wanted the connection, the intelligent, heart-felt conversations and the raw passion which always bubbled underneath whenever we were together. You did not want the guilt, the occasional feelings of inadequacy I induced in you with what you called my “air”, nor the hurt you caused him when he started picking up on the changes in your voice when you called him. You wanted me, but you did not want me.
I fell for you in ways I find words insufficient in explaining. I liked you, in that innocent, familial way. I wanted you in the less innocent adult way; an imperfect mix, but just confusing enough to be uncomfortably close to emotional attachment. I told myself it was not the tugging of my heart strings I felt, but a slight pain in my chest. I know now that I loved you, not in the Romeo and Juliet aspirational way. I loved you in the only way I know how to, with a little fear and a little hope. I wanted the best for you. It was for that reason that I knew I was toxic for you. I knew you would be happy, with yourself, with him and with God. And I know he is good for you. I saw the look in your eyes when you talked about him, when you said you loved him. I felt jealous, I can admit now. Very jealous. And the thought crossed my mind that I would never be loved in that way. It was as though you read my mind when you quietly told me you hope I found what I was looking for, someday. I am still searching, Ibi’m.
Discussing life’s many events had never been as interesting as it was, with you. With the many peaks and troughs that reflected our distinct ‒ though fairly composite ‒ progressions as individuals and as friends, we discovered more about ourselves, who and where we were, and more importantly, who and where we would like to be. We learnt to accept our flaws and encourage each other to grow ― at least I believed that to be the case. From the times we spent reviewing the dynamics and factors of our friendship to our discussions on Aristotle, Chimamanda, Chbosky and other literary figures; from the evenings at the movies together to our duets of Adele’s “Hello” and Justin Bieber’s “Love yourself”; from you being just my friend to you adopting all my friends, from the times you talked about the highs of working on meaningful projects to the moments in which you complained about the frustrations of office politics.
From you refusing to reveal your deepest thoughts to crying quietly in my arms while “Oceans” by Hillsong Live played lightly in the background; from the days you looked at me and silently wished I was “more Christian” to those Sundays we went to Church together and listened to the sermon hand-in-hand, appreciating the moment, understanding that being in God’s presence, together, was a blessing; from the days it seemed like we were absolutely perfect and words were merely a hindrance to our communication to those days when you got mad at me and refused to tell me why, especially angry that I did not understand you, understand your wants and wishes. Through all those times, with each little step, we added little brick after little brick to the wall of what we had, a new yarn to our ever-lengthening cloth.
We were alike in so many ways and yet so different in so many others. Our mutual love for the twin angels of reading and writing helped overshadow significant character differences. I loved the days you would cook in your kitchen, and talk, and I would stand at the door to listen. You would wear a huge smile on your face and a tinge of dreaminess in your eyes. Time stood still and we saw into each other’s souls. I felt like I saw into yours, at least. I loved what I saw. It was not always physical. Yes, I know you thought that, sometimes. It was not always lust. I did not always see your body when I looked at you. I saw the glow of life in your eyes and the curve of the moon on your lips when you smiled. I heard the softness in your voice when you talked about your mother and the strength in your being when you talked about the all the times you almost gave up, the times in which the finances were lacking to settle your mounting bills.
Love is a strange word, with many contours and concepts within. It is often used in a rather hasty manner, usually as a means to give flesh to largely skeletal relationships. Love, true love, cannot be separated from who we are, even if it sometimes is present in spite of who we are. I do not think I deserve the full extent of the love you showed me ― I learnt not to focus on that. Those months with you helped me understand more about what love is ― what life is ― and I believe that learning is a consequence of who you were. You taught me, not in mundane words but in practice and action, what love and honesty in friendships are. Being with you, I opened more of myself than I ever thought I would, more of myself than I ever thought was there. It felt uncomfortable, yes, but you made it worth it, every time.
Truly, sometimes, I struggled to understand why you took certain events to heart. But I understand more now the effects your unique background had on you ― your family not being together ― and how you approached life. I understood that beneath your outgoing exterior, there lay the “you” that needed to be loved, appreciated and cared for; the “you” that needed to feel secure and certain of the people in your life. I understood that there are things we can control and there are others we cannot, and knowing what these are is essential to living a fulfilled life. Seeing you, first-hand, undergo the process of self-discovery and self-acceptance as you daily worked to strengthen your relationship with God and yourself, I was convinced ‒ I still am ‒that the progress you made would eventually pale into insignificance when compared to the progress you would make in the coming days, weeks and years.
Being your friend was and still is a privilege which I scarcely deserved. Your beautiful heart amazed me every day. Your desire to be better, your intelligence and creativity, your affinity for literature and the richness of your experiences, your kindness and thoughtfulness, your willingness to sacrifice, your genuine happiness when others succeeded, your honesty, your love and your smile, your eyes and exotic skin; these are only some of the things that endeared you to me. But you were more than just a collection of good characteristics. There was something magnetic about you, like the Chemical X in the Powerpuff Girls. You were you, and everything else.
We connected at a level I fear never experiencing again. The more I think about it, about us, the less fearful I get. I met you. I let you see parts of me I never have showed others. I understood you and supported you. I loved you. It all happened. I am glad it did. I am grateful it did. I am grateful for the breadth of emotions I experienced with you. Where we go from here, I do not know. Maybe one day, you would understand my reasons for doing what I did. Maybe you could forgive me and we could share a laugh again. I would love that, Ibi’m. Sadly, I have no crystal ball with which I could stare briefly, to see what mysteries the future would unfurl.
What I can tell is that you and I are not like those people we sometimes talked about. We are not like them, the ones that meet and court and marry. We love and we let go, because it is best. And I believe that, in time, we would both be better for it all. I became more by meeting you. I would not want it any other way.
Your friend always,