On Falling

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m in love. Or at least I was a week ago. I’m not sure what state I’m in at the moment considering the things I’ve gone through in these last two and a half weeks. Our first meeting seemed light years away. It’s nothing more than a sweet memory of something that has turned out to be quite different from what it promised to be.

He did all the right things to get into my heart. And my life. And my pants. He made promises. Oh, the promises. He looked me in the eye and read me like an open book. Was I impressed? Hell, I fell in love. He said everything a little lost gay boy is dying to hear: I would never hurt you, I would love you forever, I understand.

And this little gay boy, desperate for love, starving for affection, striving for approval, was swept off his Zara shod feet and started building castles in the clouds with wish-bricks and hope-cement. I broke down my walls and let him in and let me fall. I made him my sun, my star, my universe.

We had three days of bliss before our first big fight. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, life in the big city is so fast-paced that even relationships need to be fast-forwarded. So ended the honeymoon period when he stormed off and left me crying, standing at the window. Melodramatic, you say? Well, I know no other way.

So I cried and I bled inside. Memories of every heartbreak and heartache started flowing back in a melancholic symphony. O woe is me. Woe is the day that I was born. Woe is the day that I learned love.

Two days went by. Two days of messages and calls with no response whatsoever. Yet I couldn’t stop wondering, didn’t dare to stop hoping, either for continuance or closure. Then a message came. He missed me. He wanted to see me. He loved me.

Maybe it should’ve been enough. Maybe I should’ve just walked away. It wasn’t and I didn’t.

I love him, ladies and gentlemen. And so I went back and forgave everything. I tried to forget the pain, the tears, and the sorrow. I couldn’t, but I made myself believe I could.

More days went by. Without letting my heart mend I started to let myself fall even deeper. Have I learned anything? Maybe I haven’t. Well, I know no other way. Days went by with no drama of consequence. There was laughter. I was happy. I thought that finally, finally this was real.

Then on the third day something happened. Something that I never even foresaw. Something that I didn’t even think possible. He broke up with me by a message. Maybe I should elaborate:

After driving a friend home, I decided to give him a surprise by asking for a spontaneous rendezvous. I was supposed to leave early the next morning for a flight somewhere and we decided that we would not meet. But I missed him.

So I called him up, asking where he was. He didn’t answer my question, said he’d call me back, and hung up. I continued driving but I got tired of waiting, so I called him again. I told him I was on my way to his part of town and that I wanted to see him. He said he’d call me back and hung up. Then he sent me a message, saying that he was on his way to a late meeting at a friend’s house. I called him again. He picked up and there was silence in the background. When he spoke, there was an echo. It was obvious he was indoors. He said he’d call me back and once again hung up.

Ladies and gentlemen, would it not be natural at this point to get suspicious? I sent him a half-joking/half-serious message: Thank you for lying to me. After about three minutes, my mobile phone buzzed and his message popped up on the screen.

It was over.

I parked my car by the side of the road and started crying. I didn’t know what else to do. I tried calling him but he rejected my calls and sent me hurtful messages. Did I deserve it? I don’t think I did. Did I understand why it happened? Until now I never do.

After an hour, which was how long it took for my tears to stop falling and my body to come out of paralysis, I called my closest friends and drove to meet them. Then I cried some more. I cried for my wasted love. I cried for every shattered dream and promise that will never see tomorrow.

The next day, I board that plane with bloodshot eyes. Staring at clouds drifting by while I cry at the plane window. Remembering the memories, the way he looked at me and how it made me feel, the promises he made and the way his hand fit mine. Everything ended just as it had started: in the blink of an eye.

I never stopped loving him, never stopped remembering. I saw his face everywhere and felt his touch on my skin. All the while pretending that everything was fine. I laughed. I smiled. I betrayed no sign that inside, I had nothing but a broken heart.

Then one night, a message brought my mobile phone screen to life. He missed me. He wanted to see me. He loved me.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this point of the story, what do you think I would do? Have I now finally learned my lesson or will I foolishly go back to a life of uncertainty?

I met him a day after I returned to Jakarta. He laughed and I smiled. He held me and I cried. He talked and I listened. He explained and I forgave. Forgiven but not forgotten. Something had changed. I was not who I used to be. I loved him. I wanted him. I didn’t need him.

And tonight, I told him. Without caring how he would take it, I just did. I thought he was the person I was looking for. Turned out he might not be and I wanted him to know that. Just because. What else was I supposed to do? I wanted to make him my sun, my star, my universe but I couldn’t. Not anymore. I want a lover, not an emotional roller-coaster ride.

So yes, ladies and gentlemen, in a way I’ve learned my lesson. Not enough to make me end whatever fantasies of happily-ever-after I secretly harbor but sufficient to understand that even in the midst of uncertainty, I can be certain of myself. I wish that I could love without fear. I wish that love and pain didn’t walk hand-in-hand. I wish that love at first sight, true love, happily ever after and finding your soul mate and making it forever don’t just exist in fairytales, songs, books, or movies. Well, maybe in a parallel universe, where my hair would be straight and so would I.

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