To say that the last couple months have been rough on the love front would be a foul understatement. I’ve cried more over this boy than I have over any other boy I’ve dated.
And that’s a hard one to swallow, mostly because I can’t justify the depth of my grief. He wasn’t the longest relationship (or whatevership, since, you know, he wanted no titles) I’ve had by any means, nor one that was destined for success. One, we met under odd circumstances. He was in town for a couple weeks, we were only having dinner. And then he kept extending his stay, in a town he articulated his hate towards rather clearly on that first (and supposedly last) dinner of ours. As a woman who’s loyal to my fellow overthinkers, I couldn’t help but think that I played, at least a small part, in these many extensions, which ended up being the better part of a year. Two, it certainly wasn’t love at first sight, at least not for me. I was actually in love with someone else when I met him. It was just a dinner, after all; one that didn’t come with exclusivity, so I didn’t need to unlove anyone I loved, especially when my love towards said anyone was one I wasn’t acting upon. See anyone was taken, and I’m not one to do anything about it. I’d like to think that I’m a good girl in that respect. Third, we come from very different backgrounds. Very different religions. Very different upbringings.
For all of these reasons and my previous experiences, I told myself that I wouldn’t pursue this, not actively. When I’d occasionally think about it, I consciously stopped myself. Slowed down. Reminded myself why this wouldn’t work. So, he did the pursuing. He set the tone. He managed the speed. He called himself a lucky guy to have met me. He referred to me as son coeur. He called everyday. He wanted to know everything. My whereabouts, at all times. He texted incessantly, sometimes more than normal, particularly for someone who has a tough, smart people job. What at first was a tad annoying, eventually became endearing. And, ultimately, I was happy to oblige. I had developed undeniable feelings for him. For this guy who’s objectively handsome, but who was very different from anyone I’d ever dated. Someone I would have excluded in my yesterdatingyears for, if nothing else, his different religious beliefs, or the lack thereof. I still tried not to get excited. ‘You always f*** it up when you start caring too much,’ I thought to myself.
But it was too late. I was already falling in love with him, hard, and there was no reversing that. I didn’t need to. Not then. Everything was great. More than great. For a while, it may have even been perfect. In the middle of one of the toughest, most challenging years of my life, there was my Prince Charming who gave me a break from it all. I may have even told him at some point that our dates felt like mini-vacations, even when we just went to the movies. It was my window to breathe, to laugh, to love.
I don’t know when I crossed the line. The caring line that is. But I did. At some point, in the middle of our undeniable chemistry, in the midst of our beautiful whateverthing, I started caring more than I should, presumably. It’s funny, I’ve thought about this imaginary line before, but putting it down in words now sounds ridiculous. Still, there’s no other way of explaining it. I went from being a ‘cool girl’ who was taking it one day at a time, to a girl who met a boy and dared to dream. Is that so wrong? Was I supposed to let him pursue me forever? Did I miss some memo that says pretend not to love him for as long as you can manage because the second he senses it, he’ll run? He and I took pride in being exactly who we are around each other. For saying exactly what we want. For behaving exactly how we feel. So, where was the line? How was I supposed to do all that justenough to be myself, but not enough to scare him away. I’d like to think of myself as the most understanding partner I’ve ever met. My girlfriends and their girlfriends start pressuring their significant others a few months (some a few weeks) after they start seeing them to define the relationship, I didn’t. I didn’t need to. I was so happy. But, after whatevering him for nearly a year, and while I didn’t need a ring, a status change on Facebook, a commitment for life, I did need to know where we were. I don’t think that’s an unfair ask.
In response, he didn’t run. No. But he did want to be friends. Which, depending on whom you ask, might be even harder to stomach. How can I be his friend when I’m so in love with him. How can I bear see him with anyone else when I want him to be mine. Why would he even want to be my friend when he admits we’re 100% compatible, in every way. When he’s attracted to me. When he wants to speak to me for hours on end. When he can be exactly who he is with me. When we argue and debate and laugh. When we never run out of things to tell each other. When I’m the one he turns to when he’s at his saddest, his happiest, his lowest, his most excited. What more could he possibly want. What more could anyone want.
For months, I was miserable.
I’ve cried more over this boy than I have over any other boy I’ve dated.
I cried so much, in fact, that I forgot what I was crying about, what it is that I wanted. And, one day, as I was in the bathroom, where I have my deepest thoughts, it hit me. I was crying over something I no longer wanted. Something I should not want. I was crying because I wanted to be with someone I gave my best self to and who still didn’t want me back. In the middle of this epiphany, I allowed myself to be transported back to Seminyak, a beautiful beach resort at the southern end of Bali. Allow me to transport you with me.
On the last evening of a solo trip, I was walking on the immaculate Seminyak beach and witnessing one of the (if not the) most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. The beach was getting crowded, I wanted to watch the whole thing, undisturbed, so I went inside different restaurants and cafes trying to find the perfect spot. And Lord did I find it. Ku De Ta (pronounced coup d’état), possibly the best restaurant I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting.
‘A table for one, please,’ I said, not realizing at first how unusual it was for Ku De Ta to welcome a solo traveler, in a colorful summer dress, an oversized beach hat, and flip-flops. The only accessory I had on that was remotely worthy of that fancy place was my new black pair of Yves Saint-Laurent sunglasses, a Christmas gift de moi à moi.
I don’t know if they felt bad for me, you know, because I’m alone, or if they were charmed by my unusual attire for their upscale establishment, but it seemed as though every waiter in the restaurant dropped what they were doing to be at my service. And, trust me, there was no shortage of ‘projects’ they could have attended to. The exclusive restaurant, with justenough tables to meet the demand, but not too many as to disturb the ambiance, was popular among well-off western travelers. Older travelers. The ones who have retired and can afford to be there. I’m none of these things, might I add. I’m just a girl who moved to the Gulf after college, got a good job, that paid good money, had no kids, and spent every spare dime on traveling. Overlooking the fact that I’m not their typical clientele, and for reasons that, as mentioned, I can’t explain, Ku De Ta’s staff ignored their actual target audience to scramble and find me the best table in the house. I was assigned my very own waiter, but that didn’t stop every other waiter from visiting me throughout the evening and ensure that my wildest wishes came true. After the sun set, my phone died, which was a blessing. Dinner was supposed to be a three-course meal, but, for even more mysterious reasons, that became a 10-course meal, as I got more on-the-house delicacies and signature drinks that I’ve had in my whole life put together. I felt on top of the world not only because I was treated like a queen, although that certainly helped. It was way more meaningful than that. I sat there, surrounded by people who have earned their financial right to be there, only one young couple who was merely there because the guy was proposing, and me. A me who ended up there, alone, serendipitously, and had an inner-peace that I had only attained twice before, also during solo trips. A moment where everything made sense, where all was right with the world, and where all the stars aligned. I was so happy for reasons I can’t explain. It was as though everything good I had, every accomplishment I had attained, every thing I was were flashing before my eyes.
I looked around me again. Was I lonely being alone? I mean, this guy is definitely about to propose. Yep, he just did. These other couples grew old together. Was I lonely being alone? Was there anybody in my life that I would have wanted to share that surreal moment with? The only person I would want across from me at that table, the only one who deserved to share that moment with me, was someone who saw me the way I see myself on my best days, on my worst days; someone who knew my values, my struggles, my limitations, my deepest fears, my happiest moments, the respect I have for my mother, the reason I love old people so much, the littlest instances that give me my most intense goosebumps. Someone who understood why that night at Ku De Ta meant what it meant to me. Little 5’1”, nobody me. A girl who had a humble upbringing. Who worked hard for every single thing she has. A nobody girl whose God has blessed her so much that she was being treated like a queen in a room full of actual kings. In my life, right then and there, there was no one who understood all of this. Really understood it.
So, no, I was not lonely being alone. There was nobody in my life that I wanted to share that surreal moment with. The reason it was so intense was the fact that the only person at that table, me, knew everything there’s to know about me – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and loved me anyway. And I vowed to myself that night that I would never compromise that for a less-than-perfect table companion. I’d rather be alone than lonely, sitting across the table from someone who doesn’t understand the deepest part of me and loves me anyway.
For the sake of that night at Ku De Ta, for the euphoria that I long to experience again, I don’t want that relationship. Not with him. Not with anyone else. Not until he or someone else is as excited to be with me as I am with him.
Not until he or someone else proves worthy of sitting across from me at that table.