A friend of mine recently lent me a book written by a teenager about other teenagers. “It´s basically a cluster of thoughts and opinions on love by a bunch of teens,” she said. Seeing its strikingly pink cover and smelling the sweet scent of fragrance rising from its pages, I did not expect the book to provide me with an enriching psychological exposé of the hearts and minds of today´s adolescents.
“Just wait and see,” said my bookworm friend with a cheeky smile, releasing another aromatic cloud of her perfume. So I waited, and I saw. And it only took a few seconds.
There it was, at the very beginning of the book, under a heading ostensibly claiming to explain the “Theory of Love”, a sentence that hit me right between the eyes: “The main problem of people today is not that they fall in love too fast, but that they fall in love with anyone who dares to show them a wounded soul, the brutal truth or exciting savagery. We don´t fall in love with the person, we fall in love with their story.”
I have been in a long-distance relationship for more than 6 years. Me and my girlfriend, L, bore the blows of the expanding physical remoteness between us with much-tried resilience. I have grown to know L as a tremendously strong and patient woman who had slowly but surely become my soulmate, my best friend and the light of my life, all in the span of roughly half a decade.
During our turbulent time “together”, however, we lived in a combined 4 countries and rarely saw each other for longer than a couple days. You must have heard of “weekend relationships” before. Well, ours was more in the category of “once in a blue moon” relationships. I don´t think we have been physically together for even a quarter of those six years.
Nurturing the love you share with someone who is so close yet so far requires a specific kind of care and attention. Compensating for the lack of the other´s physical presence is extremely demanding, both mentally and physically. At one point, it all became too much. I realised that the bridge we built over the glooming gap swallowing nearly all possible physical proximity was connecting our past and not our future. A future that was menacingly uncertain.
We were together for our story, not in spite of it. We cherished its legacy and did not want to let go. It was full of cracks chronically longing for repair, but help was only one bridge too far.
It is quite ironic that the first ever column published in the shade cast by the “One Night Stand” title is all but a feeble effort to come up with a self-assuring apology. Or maybe it´s just a cry for forgiveness, a desperate last-ditch attempt to salvage the remnants of my sanity. But then again, irony is the little chili pepper that spices up the stirred soup of our thoughts and feelings. And boy, do I like soup!
DISLCAIMER: Please excuse my sentimentality, but I can´t cope otherwise. The fabric of these sentences consists of randomly selected threads of thoughts and quotes that are confusingly floating around my gasping brain cells. They have been picked from my personal library of memories and relics but most of them do not belong to me. I only borrowed them from the genius and creative minds of others. However, as my customised collection of poignant titbits has not been tended to in a systematic fashion you would expect from a properly functioning library, I am missing the slightest idea of where they came from or whose creative spirit gave birth to them. So please accept my apology for not keeping my records in order and I hope I won´t offend anyone by omitting to give credit where credit is due.
As I am writing these words drunk from a relentless rage against the dying light of my relationship, I am using up my precious wordcount on this hopeless crusade to demonstrate that ideas are bulletproof, eternal and universal while being the property of no one and everyone at the same time. But now that we have (hopefully) settled the plagiarism issue, let´s get to it.
L taught me to speak the language of wordless emotion. She brought colour to the chaos of my life and fed me a rich soup of thoughts and feelings with a fork so sharp it shut my mouth at once. She took me to the devil´s carnival where the brutal din of cheap music, booze, hate and lust defined this world in its absolute madness and insanity. And then, suddenly, she deepened the night into silence and rest and banished my demons with her angelic smile.
We fought fiercely for our chance to finally be together. We fought bravely. We battled through the mud that makes up the maze and riddles of fondness and attachment with our hearts filled with passion and desire. Our tenderness was both illicit and intimate at the same time. We fought for each other.
We were wanderers, never lost, always home. My time spent with her was still and endless and the places we visited were fenceless. For a while, we even transcended the ominous jaws of distance. She flashed fleeting glimpses of eternity in front of my eyes and her gaze broke through the fiery clouds of doubt, pride and vanity. And the world beyond the trappings of our minds glimmered, just out of reach.
Of all the fish in the sea, I was so glad she swam to me. But after more than 6 years, I am finally ready to let her go back in the ocean of unexplored hopes and opportunities. Our roads have led us away from each other. Have they led us astray? I am not sure. But they led us too far. Our lives became overburdened with our personalised habits and routines and we missed out on that fabled entanglement that made all distance seem trivial. In blunt terms, our love has become a burden in and of itself.
Now, as I am watching her slowly sink to depths most would drown in, my heart is full of sorrow knowing that I will not be there when she rises to new heights, sitting on the wings of someone else. Yet, the legacy of what we had will always be worth carrying a torch for. As long as the flame of that torch is lit, our memories will not die. In my heart and in my mind, I will always be with her. Because how do you go back to being strangers with someone who has seen your soul?
L was one of the very few fucks I actually gave in this life. And I will continue giving that fuck unless stated otherwise.
Lest I forget.