Of enduring love, Sheena Easton’s and when the full-stops are final as can be.
At 19, I was an old soul with a heart inexperienced at love. While I celebrated others’ love stories and mourned the sorrow of partings that didn’t belong to me, my own heart had not found satisfaction the only way it ought to — by sharing love with an equal who could match the depth of my love while scaling newfound heights to attain to.
Then I fell in love.
And suddenly, I forgot about being an old soul. For the first time in my life maybe, I understood juxtaposition. Chained to my love, I never felt freer. Slave to my attachments to him, I was master — or mistress — of his wants. Fearful of potential loss and heartbreak, I delved right in towards impending separation — he was going away in a year’s time for studies and the beats of our heart would have to make it a great distance of 9,397.79 miles or 15,118 kilometres just to dance together.
But for then, we did dance. Never physically, but perhaps, ethereally, we danced. To Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon”.
Tucked away in a corner of my being was that old soul whom I had dismissed. I had no time for old romanticism, not when young adventures needed to be lived and immersed in.
“ilu”, he signed off in the many letters we exchanged.
“Promise me you’ll never use this with anyone else, even if we’re not together anymore.” I said.
12 months worth of such young love of course, proved to be intense, overwhelming, suffocating and altogether, much too much.
I would run my fingers along his face, tracing every contour to etch them into my heart. I touched his face a lot, when he was driving, when we were sleeping, when the moment felt right and when everything was wrong, when I had everything I would ever need with me, and when my whole world was slipping away.
Beverley Craven’s “Promise Me” was on repeat mode on my discman.
At 20, we tearfully kissed our goodbyes and forcibly untangled our hands from each other’s grasp. I watched the love of my life cry through the airport departure gates — and he never returned.
Seven years later was when that old soul in me that had long been relegated to make space for newfound priorities — like work accomplishments and life experiences so I could pretend better at being an adult — would awaken again.
Between him and I, we’ve gone through one official breakup, numerous yellings over the phone, endless accusations of each other being selfish and unreasonable, one too many tearful conversations, hundreds of apologies, a thousand moments of not knowing what to say to each other, some tentative exchanges of our regrets, many many many MSN chats which evolved from casual “how’s your day”s to intentional virtual companionship that could replace the many kilometres with just a few kilobytes, careful conversations about the way we were, arrangements apprehensively made to meet again (arrangements that left the heart feeling too carelessly light) when he would finally return to Singapore, and much, too much hope that we weren’t even aware we were harbouring.
Oh, and 14 bouquets of flowers that showed up at my doorstep every year on Valentine’s Day and my birthday, ordered and paid for from 9,397.79 miles or 15,118 kilometres away.
Plus tens of packages of my favourite movies, songs and random gifts that came through the mail.
In those years apart, we’ve had phone conversations when we were at our lonesomest selves. 12 hours apart in the time zone meant we had each other for company when the rest of the world was asleep and we took turns to fulfil that role.
One girlfriend for him and one boyfriend for me, and seven years later, our paths came together again.
At last, we were single and free, unattached and available.
“Hey, I’m at work. I’m so stressed I want to cry,” he texted one night, many weeks after his return.
“I’m here for you. Don’t cry, baby. ilu.”
“Now I really feel like crying.”
It’s the typical story, isn’t it? But for us playing our parts in this tale, we didn’t know what was clear would happen.
“Sometimes, just sometimes, I think I’m not over you,” I confessed one night.
“I told my friends, if things didn’t work out for you and your boyfriend, that I will go home and make things right with you,” he shared. “They laughed at me.”
Of course we fell in love again. Or maybe, we never did fall out of love to begin with.
“Maybe after you’ve had your seventh boyfriend, we can get back together and work things out,” he said one night. Why seven?
Six months later, we broke up.
And I lost my friend, boyfriend, companion of 10 years.
Almost fourteen years later, we are happily married.
With a loving spouse of our own and four children between us.
In the end, we didn’t return to each other, and we never will again.
At the end of the story, we were simply not meant to be.
I still listen to Sheena Easton’s “Almost Over You”.
Never once did I stop to think that the batches of seven years in between would eventually pave the way to new paths for us that would exclude each other or take us where the other cannot follow.
As grand as our love story was to me, there was a final full stop at the end of the ellipsis marks.
Except for the restless old soul in me who still waits for the day I could sit beside my old friend again and say simply, “I’ve missed you.”
This story was first published on Be Yourself.