Love is weird. Love is hard. But 2 overly self-aware people falling in love is both of these, entangled in a heap of unused straws that don’t let you sip till the very last drop. Something always remains. You’re always only almost there. But I tried anyway.
8 years ago
Last day of senior year in high school
Everyone was running around trying to get pictures with everybody else, with the guys striding around in intricately tooled expensive leather shoes partly covered by their razor black pants that held the ostentatious neatly ironed white shirts in place while the pretty women were gliding around in shining sarees and gorgeous gowns.
I was late to the event. I made too many plans, and ended up with an over-sized blazer older than myself and reached the event with a half groggy face having a deep mental conversation with my vintage rock n’ roll shoes. Imperfect as always. And that day was supposed to be the day I would finally ask her… for a photograph. “Maybe I should ask for her Skype ID?”
So being the nervous barbarian I was, I started practicing my lines in one corner of the hall. Because Murphy’s law, right? No. Because I was well… me. After considering the 56th possibility, I felt it would definitely be, “Hey Trisha, I was wonde…” when I heard a familiar voice shouting, “Brownie!” And there she was.
The music started fading away as she raised her smooth rose-tinged slender hand to wave another friend goodbye, and then disappeared into nothingness as she slowly slid her sparkling bangles back to position. Unlike everyday, her hair was flowing all the way down to her mesmerizing hips and demanded the attention of the now monochrome crowd around her. I saw the soft evening light briefly bouncing off her velvety skin, just around the cheekbone, casting her perfectly lined cotton candy pink lips in perfect harmony with the blooming spring. Perfect as always. And then I met her eyes.
“HEY BROWNIE!” and before I could even realize, time froze and I melted between her arms gently wrapped around me for the perfect hug. I could feel her cold neck resting on my shoulders and I knew my best friend could no longer just be the same.
But I didn’t tell her. We held hands. We got our perfect photograph. We had each other’s phone numbers. And we went opposite ways.
3 years ago
A week before I leave for London
Here’s the thing about photographs. It captures a moment in time. A very particular instant that could easily spill through the crevices of time and distance. We usually let a lot of details get permanently lost in the dark abyss of reality as it hits us. Life, always has this interesting tendency to mold you into something better or worse than you were. And every human, ironically, always wants to be better than what he is and thus adapts himself to be in a position where a better being who felt the same once used to be. Change, is inevitable. But there is this one thing that endures these complex dynamics and maintains its state perpetually: photographs.
I looked into the photograph. Smiling like a Disney princess who just woke up, escaped a castle and ran into a charming prince. Only it was quite the opposite. He looked like a dunce, laughing out of his half-broken teeth and still holding on to the free McChicken burger that might have otherwise run away. He always left the legs for the last. One crazy, stupidly awesome friend. “I’ll finally be meeting him again today. Would Brownie still be the same?”
I don’t like to keep count but we probably spoke exactly 45 times during the last 5 years over the phone. A smartass programmer, an even smarter talker. The one quality I find most intimidating. He was a little too smart. And I could NEVER stand all the technical jargon he spewed during those. “We’re humans too, okay?” I prefer plain English. Despite all the madness, he managed to keep his puerile sense of humor with him. Never missed the chance to crack the same perfect stupid joke that came into my mind at the exact same time in between any conversation. He would laugh hysterically for a minute and then look at me to make sure I laughed too. And almost always, I did. Sometimes, his jokes are terrible.
I dressed up in his favorite colors. We met. Had the weekend of our lives. We took another perfect photograph. And I didn’t tell him.
2 months back
“Maybe I should call her now.”
Those were my first thoughts as soon as I saw the words ‘Welcome to Heathrow’. Those were also my first thoughts when my manager told me I’d have to go to London for my preliminary training period. But I texted her. I didn’t get a reply. “Maybe she is busy? Maybe she finally found her perfect someone?”
The rain splattered windows at the terminal refracting golden light all across the floor displayed the sun that was sinking down into serenity, between white marble clouds that were announcing the coming evening. The crowd was moving through the busy airport like a river that has reached the ocean; a beautiful mess of richly dressed people disappearing into the endless assemblage of diverse cultures that formed this majestic city.
As I patiently waited near the baggage claim, I was continuously staring at my phone, looking at the photograph again and just occasionally glancing at the conveyer belt to check for my suitcase. But probably after 30 seconds of waiting, I noticed this funny looking package with the most unexpected text on top of it — “Brownie”. I immediately looked around and noticed this gleefully jumping woman at the far end of the belt, right about where it started. She remembered!
I ran towards her. She ran towards me. Our hearts knew. Our expressions knew. Only words didn’t.
2 weeks back
We always had this weird obsession with fingers. Maybe this is true for almost anyone in this world. Or maybe it was just us. But our fingers fit perfectly between each other when we held hands. Every time.
Stepping into the Rivoli Ballroom is like stepping back in time, to a more glamorous age. Everything about the decor is sumptuous, decadent and at points a little surreal. A wonderful 1950s ballroom, adorned with plush, red velvet walls, gigantic Chinese lanterns hung side by side with Austrian crystal chandeliers, and filled with the most eclectic show of unfettered fancy dress imaginable. Our mutual love for vintage music was reason enough to be there that night.
“I wish we could dance.”
“Maybe we should.”
“Wait. You sure? I am really bad at this. Can you dance?”
“I can’t dance. Here, let me teach you.”
The opera was playing “As time goes by, Frank Sinatra”. He walked me to the ballroom floor, between tens of other couples slowly dancing, and held my hands. Perfectly. I could feel his warmth and nervousness, as he gracefully held me in his arms and danced. And I was just lost in the moment.
I slipped a piece of paper into his pocket. Neither of us said a word. We danced for an hour. Walked along the empty streets all night. He kissed me on the cheek.
Present day, now.
I could offer an uneasy smile
to cover things
that aren’t so nice to show,
make excuses for my limits,
or you could just take me now
attitude and all.
Yes, I can be so neurotic, angel,
but I can be the cat’s meow,
a dismal delight now,
stuck tumbling between
your wild darting hearts
I could feed your flames.
Touching my surface,
you know what’s underneath,
I’m not offering regrets,
but you still hesitate.
What do you fear?
You’ve got nothing to lose.
I could be a mistake,
a cheap one, an easy exit,
but I’m telling you
truly, with no conceit,
I could be the one
that makes you glow.
Can you honestly tell me
I don’t already, just a little?
I do something to you,
I know I do.
What if that’s the sign
you’re looking for?
Yes, I’ve got issues,
so do you.
The difference is
I want your issues
tumbled in with my issues
so we can be ridiculous together.
I ask you,
tumble me to the ground,
all of me,
broken twisted me,
candy coated me,
sweetheart dearheart me.
stop worrying so much
about me worrying so much
and just press yourself against me.
I’m already yours.
Do you understand?
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