love you not

berlin
this graffiti, which I photographed at the East Side Gallery in Berlin in 2013, has been edited for this post.

I’m giving it a month, he said over lunch. A month till I’m settled into the routine and responsibilities of this new job. I’ll be settled again by then, have more time for myself and hopefully less and less on my mind. After a month, I’d like…

He paused. I reckon time paused as well. I know it did, because we stared at each other for a few of those seconds that extend beyond their capacity and defy the laws of physics.

I want to start going to the gym again – take care of myself again. Maybe start cooking too.

I smiled.

Of course, he wanted to go to the gym again. Maybe, after all, the purpose of this lunch was really just catching up and eating kale salad over small talk.

He smiled.

_

Months later, he would do the same.

This time, we’d be lying naked on the couch, after an interrupted session of “couch-surfing” – we’ll get to that interruption later.

He inhaled, then paused. Then murmured a song.

I was too exhausted to ask, but I looked up questioning – but he got up instead and went to the fridge and came back with one of those weird looking gym drinks.

After a long silence and a couple of cigarettes, he casually said, it’s not just me, it’s you as well. You come and go; you can’t stay either.

I smiled and sat up and asked him for some water. I was used to moving freely around his house and this was the first time I ask him for anything, so he questioned it.

I like watching you from behind.

I did. This man looked handsome from all sides and angles, and I also wanted to avoid the subject. That was a first as well.

We were done for the day. And the week. And the months to come afterwards.

With whatever energy I had left in my body I used to dress myself up and for a farewell kiss.

It was always like that between him and I.

_

Where did you go, he asked.

The trouble with getting older, with me at least, is this: I’ve grown softer over the years. Tougher in my work, wiser with my dealings with people, but when it comes to the matters of the heart, old friends and lovers in particular, I’ve become soft and fragile, and very openly so.

So I smile. But my tears weigh on my eyelids suddenly.

I’ve always been here, I manage to say.

It wasn’t like you’d walk out of bed and out the house in the middle of the night; you just left.

I told you I’m leaving, I say, following the car that passes in the distance with my gaze.

You put me in the spot there again, he says confidently. You know I can’t deal with that.

I told you I’m leaving, I whisper this time.

Look, I say after a long stare. Look, You like working long hours, you like your space, you like to be on your own. So do I.

You’re settled into your yet new job, I continue, your dad’s election campaign is over – congratulations, by the way – your friends got married finally, you went away for holidays. Whatever. Life is sequencing into one significant event after the next. It is what it is. Bottom line is, you’re constantly on the move, and so am I. And the sad reality is we’re too damn selfish, too damn arrogant to stop for a minute and ask, or to stay, or to love.

I’ve been in and out of love with you so many times that it’s ridiculous to stand here and talk about this.

You’re a fucking sadist, a goddamn narcissist and I have no idea why I’ve ever given you a second thought. I’ve poured the contents of this tiny heart in front of you so many times because somehow I’ve managed to reserve a spot for you in there.

Right next to satan himself, I say smiling now. It’s about time you fucking move out of there.

And yes, as always, I was the one to walk away.

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