As I sit down to write this letter I realise that it has been a very, very long time since I have written a letter to friends. The truth is, my time was not really my own, not because I have been too busy, but because I have been concentrating almost exclusively on my fledgling relationship. Little did I know that, no matter how much you bend over backwards for someone, not having the grounding of love and passion makes every moment more pointless. So, on Wednesday, after he landed back in South Africa, having been away for two weeks, I did the necessary and long-overdue evil of telling him of all the ways that I have been unhappy. My intention was to express my hope that our relationship would get better, but he saw it as an opportunity to end things. As painful as it is, he had a point. He told me that he has not felt strongly for me and that he feared he never will.
It was a lonely ending, with an agonising lesson – that again, even though I chose this man carefully and gave myself freely to him because I believed him to be wonderful, love is the most difficult thing to find. Relationships require the dedication of both partners. He never let me in. It was easy to be with him, but it was also a lonely experience due to the undercurrent of silence which characterised the time we were together. He never tried to know me and at some point, I stopped trying to talk.
I may have not believed this before, but I see now that for some couples, although there is also choice, there is a whole lot of luck involved in the moment that two people meet and decide to be together. I used to kid myself that I chose to be single (unmarried) for this long, but the truth is that we are always seeking that special person. No one can tell me that they are happy (totally fulfilled) without the love of that someone special. We need that other person to affirm our place in the world. That doesn’t mean we can’t be happy single, because we can, but love is the human condition we seek. Experiencing the death of another relationship (but, in particular, this one) just makes me think that people who find love are so lucky. Making that love work is another thing, but simply finding it in the first place is near impossible. So, my attitude towards this has changed and I hope that everyone who is reading this will go to the person they love and reaffirm their commitment to them. Work on what you have, if you think there is enough love there, and don’t think there is a more perfect other out there. There is no such thing as perfect.
With him, I had to keep reminding myself that I DO have intelligence, that I DO have independence and affectionate friends, and that I AM interesting and loveable. It was a warning to me; not one which I chose to ignore, but which I hoped would not be the be-all and end-all of the relationship. I know from the past that losing recognition of yourself is the worst way to end up and that no relationship is worth that.
It has been a strange and rather abrupt process of lesson-learning. On Saturday I was very happily preparing to go to a gig with no ill-intention. The musician at the gig, a man (boy) that I had met at a music competition a few weeks earlier, suggested we become Facebook friends. Quickly the comparisons began. The young, aspirational muso versus the unloving (but kind) established man. When I saw my kind man two nights later, I barely recognised him. It was as if he had aged during our time away. Even the colour of his eyes seemed paler. This has nothing to do with reality, just the changed perception I had of him. And now, even though it hurt then, I cannot remember a time when we were happy. Nonetheless, I know we were and that there were moments when I simply adored him. He is not different, but I am, because I am back to being me. Friday night I donned by Docs and my short skirt and played pool while watching bands. I told my friend that I felt 24 years old again. Truthfully, I have been trying really hard to grow up and at the same time, trying to be myself, and maybe that means hanging out in grungy bars and wearing Doc Martens.
The lovely friend who introduced us said he felt bad for having done so, but of course I have no regrets. I was the best behaved girlfriend I have ever been. I didn’t even look at other men; that is, until aspirant muso arrived on the scene. It was perhaps the most mature relationship I have ever had – there were no fights, we held hands all the time, we were generous with our compliments and with our time. And that’s the funny part, because on paper it looked like a really healthy relationship. My mom once told me that I must never meet a man in a bar, but even though I met him for the first time in the park, there is more to a relationship that how it all began, and more to a person than what they are not. And there is more to finding love than the intractable hope I have continued to feel and will continue to feel, indefinitely. I don’t know how else to be.