You know, 10 years isn’t a lot of time. It whizzes by like a dragonfly in a garden. Taking turns, zooming in and out of loopholes and around corners, yet never stopping until it gets to its destination. When I was, say, 21, I didn’t know that. The world was my oyster and time was infinite. I met him on a bone-chilling cold day walking up the block. I’d dropped my bag of groceries that I was so eager to unpack and cook. Dumplings, a package of chicken, chicken broth and a few pastries to satisfy my sweet tooth. I was ready for a quiet, warm night inside. See, I thought I was an adult back then. It took me leaving school and moving all the way from South Carolina to Boston, then New York to follow my dream to officially say that. There I was all alone, just getting accustomed to the rhythm of the city, and l dropped my bag of groceries on the street. On a day so cold, there was no room for error or misstep.
I hated making mistakes, even ones as simple as that.
There was no time for a quick recovery. My ingredients and packages spilled out of the bag, creating a long trail on the pavement. I had no choice but to kneel down and scavenge for my belongings. Then he saw me. No, I didn’t see him first, he saw me. I could feel his stare and his presence even. I looked up at him and immediately thought he looked like he could use a personality. There was no expression, no smile, and no light in his eyes. This was definitely NOT a movie moment. He extended his hand for assistance, and I obliged.
Funny how one decision can change your life forever.
Hours, days, weeks, months and years flew past and that act of chivalry blossomed into a love affair, a pain-filled journey and even a loss of self. In an instant, every moment interchanged with the other with no forewarning. He was a quiet man, never saying too much, but when he did, you listened. You listened because you wanted to know what he was thinking, how he felt—about you, about himself, about the world in which we lived. He would say those things you longed to hear, but you had to listen closely with a trained ear. With him, I learned that words said seldom don’t have less meaning as those said often. His will was beyond strong, but his smile put you at ease. His touch was electrifying, but sometimes his eyes would be dull. There was something in them that hinted at a buried past. The eyes and the heart are connected so sometimes that pain would translate over to his interaction with me. Overall, he was a fascinating enigma.
In the beginning I became so lost in him, in love, I lost myself. I stopped being me. The real me. The woman he met on the street. Fascination turned into a need to save him from that past that kept him so guarded. I did everything I could to break that wall down. It became so tiresome, instead of showing him how sweet life could be on the other side; I decided mirroring him would be easier for the both of us—pain, deceit and powerlessness in a pretty package. We were in it together.
I should be in a different place than I am now. It’s unbelievable how quickly life soaks up time. It’s like a sponge. My dream I relocated for has been deferred indefinitely. I’m stuck in a trap that I sketched and built for myself.
If I’m the architect, why can’t I find my way out?