In search of history
Dearest future boyfriend,
Nope. This is not one of those letters in which I tell you all the things that I will do for you if and when you finally materialize. But rest assured that the list of those things is long and keeps getting longer with every day that I wait for you.
First, let me come clean. I have read from almost everywhere that trust and honesty are the ultimate ingredients of a lasting relationship. So here I go.
You are not the first guy that I will kiss.
I’m sure that at our age, you have also kissed other girls before me. And believe me when I say that someday, when you’re ready, I’d like to hear from you about them.
But here’s the clincher about the guy I kissed before you: We were not in a “proper” relationship. We were what are called “friends with benefits.” There, I said it. Do you hate me now?
There must be a thousand questions racing through your head right now. Let me answer them with the truth.
How it all started? With alcohol, of course. One drink led to another and somehow, he got through to me and I felt a connection between us. We made each other laugh.
Like all such things, it was fun at first. It was so easy! We got what we wanted from each other without having to go through the rigors of a relationship. We were friends who were having fun. How bad could that be! It was exactly what Jeanette Winterson described: “all the fun, none of the toil.” It was truly convenient for both of us. So convenient it was that it lasted for four years.
But here’s where it gets ugly. My friend had a girlfriend before I stepped into the picture. In effect, I became the third person in their lives. I was aware of her existence before I agreed to our setup.
How did it make me feel? There are no words. I fully understood that I risked hurting the feelings of a girl I hardly knew. Trust me, I comprehended the gravity of the matter.
I also knew that if anyone found out about us, I would be in deep sh-t. People would judge and call me a lot of names. Just the thought of it made my stomach turn.
But I went ahead, anyway. Why? Because it made me feel less lonely in this world. There is something about the touch of another person that is so addictive. It all boiled down to me being selfish. All I thought of me, and just getting and getting.
Did I love him? I’m not sure. There came a point when I said to myself that I could love him. But my head was against the idea. My mind knew that it would be wrong to fall for him. It would be a stupid mistake, knowing that I was not his top priority.
Yet my heart sang a different tune. I liked the thought of us living in our secret world… until the secret world became too heavy, too dark. It came to a point that it was eclipsing our reality.
So how did it end? He got married. It didn’t come as a surprise, but it was devastating nonetheless. I felt powerless. How I wanted to scream, “Choose me! Marry me! Let me make you happy!”—a la Julia Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” The words never came out, of course. All I could hear was the sound of nothing, the sound of defeat.
It was in the end when I realized how important it is to have memories to look back on. Because the lack of memories multiplied the misery that was eating me up inside.
The word “history” was on a loop in my head. He and I didn’t have it, although we did spend time together. But my head was busy stamping those memories as “irrelevant,” perhaps due to the fact that I knew we meant nothing to each other. This is how my head sees the situation: no memories = no attachment = no feelings = no grief.
But I know now that I got it wrong. I needed the memories to understand the importance of having someone with whom to share history. You see, history is needed to steady your feet on solid ground when all hell breaks loose. This history will remind you that the pain smoldering in your chest is there for a reason.
Also, it makes the pain easier to bear when you have history to hold on to. Knowing that you fought the same battle has its own calming effect. But there was nothing to fight for. After all, we were just friends.
What he and I shared was what I would call “disposable history.” It was among the first things you would throw out when the ship is about to sink. So I was left with no choice but to jump and swim to shore.
Do I have any regrets? I have none. I believe that it’s part of my journey to you. I have to learn the lesson—the hard way. But it was not meant to break me. Now I can say that I can do better. And that I deserve better.
So when our paths finally cross, you’ll meet a stronger, wiser (I think), yet slightly rough-around-the-edges girl. I hope you will still have me.
For now, I will keep adding to our list, believing that the path I took—this road to recovery and redemption—will eventually lead me to you. Together, we will tick off the items on my list, your list, and, someday, our list.
And, dearest, know that I cannot wait to write our history together.
Your girl who played with fire
“Marie,” 28, says she scored top marks in her history class.
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