I wasn’t doing anything extraordinary, silently enjoying the show, smiling at the actors on the stage. He turned to me and from the corner of my eye I heard him breathe, “I really want to kiss you now.”
I don’t know if it was a genuine desire, or the obligatory spark that comes before the start of a new relationship. In any case, it was innocent and surprising; the thought hadn’t even remotely crossed my mind. I didn’t want to lean over and publicly kiss him in the middle of the packed theatre. I was uptight, I wasn’t trusting. I wasn’t stepping from one foot to the other, thinking of nothing but him and little stolen kisses. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever acted on the temptation in public. But it was interesting that he mentioned wanting to do so, on more than one occasion. It was interesting because, my attraction in response caught me off guard. And remembering those moments has caught me off guard.
I imagine because of his age, he is less prone to the bubbles of our lives. But also I kind of felt that unlike most of the boys I know, he has figured it out, his life I mean. Maybe just to the extent that he knows who he is and what he wants. And things no longer faze him, like the fact that I finally came around seemed ordinary to him. Whilst I’m still taken back when people confront me about the broken space in my heart.
Although I didn’t learn much else, I knew there’s a permanent naive side to him. It was super endearing; kind of unexpected and unlike me and my past relationships. He was enthused over a sandwich, really I was careless and half asleep waiting in the queue, whilst he impatiently jittered to try, a sandwich, a mayo-steak sandwich.
I sat up in bed, smoothed out the creases in the white sheets, half serious, half sad. I couldn’t say everything, I barely said anything.
“I need two weeks to digest things and then I need to talk about it.”
“Ok, talk to me.” – It was mature and matter of fact and the truth. And you let it be, because words were unnecessary and yet, it was so cynical; what I wanted was mountains of words and streams of explanations, and then to reiterate those explanations. But you weren’t going to entertain that and you wanted to take nothing away in this new scheme of things. So I withdrew and tried hard to keep withdrawing.
And so, I learnt that you’ve lived your life like you had no choice but to do it for yourself; you grew up building for you. I know how easy it is to be an island. I know I never got to know you, yet I feel you mastered it, resourceful but with brick walls up for others. Okay, some, others. And true, I didn’t really attempt to be on that flourishing island; but I wanted you to assume my presence and ask me to stay on it with you. I kind of knew you owed me that much, your vulnerability, if nothing else. But like I said, I realised you were just being a realist. A man’s island. Kind of ragged and harsh.
And so, in response to your stoicism, I confidently heard the point, stood tall and sauntered off.
Following those two weeks, after weighing everything, I returned to the same theatre hall. I nodded a quick bow and left any longing for him on those now empty seats.