You were in college, working part time at a cafe. A blue-eyed, small town boy with big ambitions and the determination to never look back. I was a flight risk, afraid of the slightest discomfort, the smallest fights and a huge fear of falling. I always wondered why anyone ever bothered with love if it never lasted.
We met at the cafe you worked at. I was watching a couple argue, rolling my eyes at the familiarity of things.
She was 9. Her parents were fighting. She was supposed to be asleep, but that’s kind of hard when two adults were screaming out in the hall. She shut her eyes and tried to block it out. Their fight went on like white noise, and she fell asleep with the thought that something was wrong.
You came over and asked me for my order, but I was lost in the fight of the people sitting beside me. Their constant rambling took me to the place where love was a superficial pull of selfishness, so that no one’s ever alone. Your warm smile , sparkling arctic eyes and deep voice made me picture a world in which love was real.
Let’s go to our first date. We were sitting on the beach and the sky was painted in the warm colours of red, orange and yellow with streaks of purple. We spoke about our ambitions and exchanged stories. That’s when you put your arm around me, pulled me close and I finally let my guard down for the first time.
One fight turned into two, two turned into three and soon all she could hear were her parents shouting. She was 10, and by now she slept every night to the sound of her parents fighting and woke up every morning to no father and a mother with eyes puffy from crying. The environment she lived in made her critical about all the fairy tales she’d read. Cinderella was crap and Sleeping Beauty made her cringe. True love’s kiss didn’t exist and neither did love.
One date turned into two, and before long, it had been months. We laid on the sofa every weekend and watched movies. You kissed my nose as I slept on your chest. I felt my world turn. The more you kissed me, the easier it was to forget I didn’t believe in love.
Flash forward to when there’s a drawer of my things at your place. We mature together, and you learn why I’m guarded and skeptical about the concept of love. I remember the day I told you about it. I was crying while you sat and listened. You understood me. I expected you to tell me to get out, that you didn’t want to be with someone who came in with the mindset that love was destined to doom in the first place.
She had reason to not believe in love. Her parents “fell in love” and that led to nothing great. Her father had not paid attention to their family, taking them for granted, assuming they were just a prize he’d received for all the hard work he’d do. Her mother made him feel less and less welcome everyday, pushing him away instead of trying to fix things. If something that had survived for 15 years could die, what guarantee did love offer in the first place?
What you did that day makes me cry even now. You held me, looked me dead in the eye, and promised me we’d never make the same mistake my parents did. You asked me to move in with you and you promised that even if I got very difficult, you’d never give up on me. That’s when I realised that was the guarantee love gives. The guarantee to try, to believe another person completely and to have implicit faith in something both of you have worked on. Love was real, and you proved that to me.
I did move in and we were very happy. I loved you, you loved me. We’d gotten used to each other and everything was perfect.
But then came the inevitable fight. I don’t even remember what it was about now, but I do remember it got way out of hand. It was 1:30 a.m.and everything was slipping way out of proportion. I told you, I was afraid of fights and it sparked a sudden “fight or flight” signal in me. I chose flight and ran out of our home, crying. You came running behind me as I prepared myself to say goodbye. It was easy for me by then. I was used to it. My entire fragile faith in love dissipated and I went back to being the little girl who didn’t believe in fairy tales and true love.
She was 12 and her parents had the biggest fight of their lives. She wanted it to stop. She couldn’t take this anymore. She ran out the door to her friend’s house and stayed there for God knows how long, trying to forget their harsh words. She was sent to her aunt’s for a month and when she came back, everything had changed. Her home was different and her family had split into two. She had to leave all of her friends, her whole life behind and move somewhere new. She had to be shared between her parents. She was 12 and the whole concept of love had been destroyed for her.
But you were different, and right when I thought I was done, you took me by surprise. You said you that you’d promised me that you’d never give up, and you were going to keep that promise. You said that you’d never let us get to that point from where it was impossible to turn around.
You said you remembered the painted sky on our first date. You remembered how our first kiss made your head spin and how I made you feel butterflies.
You said you’d fallen in love with a person who was dubious of the very concept of love. You said you’d made someone who was afraid of falling in love, fall in love. You were the one responsible for making me believe in the most abstract feeling in the world, and you swore that you’d never be the one to take that belief away.
You looked at me with those striking blue eyes and promised me that you’d never leave me alone, and I let myself fall in love with you all over again.