For the first time in my life, a breakup had left me in a very dark place. It wasn’t so much a breakup as my ex’s admission that he loved me but wasn’t ‘in love’ with me. From having cocktails one Saturday evening and debating the after-effects of Brexit to crying so much that it gave me a fever. Maybe it hurt so much because it was unexpected or maybe his earlier reticence was an indication that he wasn’t in it for the long haul anyway.
But I didn’t spare myself. I drowned myself in work and self-pity. It was an immediate decision to effectively distance myself from friends, family and the people I lived with. As my university lease had expired, I moved into a house shared at that time by two girls and four boys. I had a loft room and Jose, a sous chef, lived in the other room on the top floor.
We bumped into each other from time to time and I responded to every question of his with a designated stoic face. He did not probe me further. Then one night I heard a knock on my door. It was him, eyes hazy but his stance determined.
‘Do you want to go out for drinks?’, he asked.
My head was swimming with thoughts. The walls were thin, my boyfriend, I mean my ex-boyfriend had come over just a couple of weeks ago, so why was he asking me out?
‘Ummmm,’ I stammered, nervously.
‘Are you seeing someone?’
‘Ugh, I guess… I don’t know.’
He had caught me off guard.
‘Maybe not tonight. I’ll let you know.’
The lanky Spanish dude left my doorstep, dismayed at the obvious rejection.
I told my best friend about it and she criticized me for being so dismissive of new experiences. She put it flatly, ‘You need to talk to more people, make more friends. So start with him.’
The next weekend I asked my neighbour if he’d like to join me for a few drinks. I was still not ready to go out on a date with him, so I had already bought a bottle of wine, to keep things under my control. He came into the kitchen with a gleaming smile and a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand. We bonded like long lost friends and kept chatting away. Our neighbours were obviously suspicious, but none of them intruded the banter.
A few drinks later Jose asked me if I’d like to share a joint. I took a puff, it felt funny so I promptly gave it back to him. But the damage was already done. I was giggling uncontrollably and he started patting my cold feet to hush me up. I was fidgety on the uncomfortable wooden chair and while swinging myself on it, I fell down.
He got me up on my feet and helped me go upstairs as I had become too loud by then. And only as a natural progression, the party moved to his room and we started kissing. I slept with my neighbour, and when I woke up in the morning, his bony ribcage was pressing against my chest, his kisses on my neck, it was an affirmation from the universe.
Just because one person failed to be by your side, you cannot give up on that thing called love.
*Names changed to protect privacy
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Published on Apr 03, 2017