Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Blast of Pheromones

Apparently, I'm guilty of it. Many years ago, a friend told me I'm like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride whose flirtatious energy just spills over onto everything around her. Ten years ago, it was cute. Today, it's just exhausting. And the worst part is, I get it.

I get that I'm "too friendly", I understand that men have trouble reading "mixed" messages, and after years of the "you asked for it" social inculcation, even I blame myself sometimes. After all, this isn't Europe or America where the girl-boy thing has been honed to a fairly decent fine art over the years. This is India, where repressed sexuality and abundant morality are inextricably linked. Into that mix, toss in a girl who laughs easily, and hugs playfully - and of course, it's okay to hit that.

And I'm so angry right now. Over the last week, two friends have clearly taken the plunge - to cross what I thought were fairly clear lines of behavior. These are friends who have gotten to know me over the last few years and have seen my relaxed side, my flirtatious side, my fun side. And the fact that I behave the exact same way with all my inner circle of friends. Because they're the only people I feel safe with. That includes them.

And now, I get into a bind because those very friends now feel like predators. Their homes are no longer safe havens of fun, one-on-one time with them now feels like the dreaded exercise of dodging a rather large elephant in a tiny room. And finally, the ransom of "friendship" that is negotiated with threats of "I can't go back to how it was before."

It seems it's that easy to play tug of war with trust and safety and affection that has taken years to build. It's that simple to find out that something I spent years nurturing wasn't mine at all, that it actually belonged to the guy who waited long enough to make me his friend before he could say with entitlement, "Fuck friendship, I want sex." And just like that, I find myself without one more friend, without one more part of my life.

And then they wonder why I was so "mysterious" and stand-offish when they were just getting to know me. The real answer is, "Because I want to give myself a few good years of laughs before I find out what an asshole you really are."

Friday, October 21, 2011

That Day when Love Hurts...

That moment when you sit down unsuspectingly at your computer, click open your player, load up some Death Cab for Cutie on it and turn your attention to your multiple email-boxes only to come across a communique from someone you thought you knew a long time ago...

That minute when you re-read that email and wonder why he was getting in touch, why he had been so unhappy with his life to want you in it for that occasion, and DCFC talks about "so many possibilities to rock your world, and all you see is where you could be when you were home.."

That sip of wine that takes you back to all those years ago when in an alcoholic fugue that you mistakenly called heartache, you swore that you would never get over him, without realising that wine-oaths have a lasting impression of a few years, and absolutely no power beyond them..

Those goose-bumps that travel up your spine, chasing each other in a race to be the first to reach your heart, to travel down your to the vacant ring finger and remind you of the tinfoil that had been fashioned by him from the remains of his meth hit as a promise of forever..

That itch in your fingers to pick up the phone and dial his number when Death Cab reminds you that this is fact, not fiction, that maybe he should have given you a reason to stay, that yes, it's true that all the friends and lovers in your life don't make you feel any less alone on days when it would be good to be anchored by a pair of syringe-riddled arms as he spun you tales of the purple brick road...

That time of the day when you would rather have read anything other than the much-delayed announcement of his funeral while you hear the guitar chords that remind you of disappointment and regrets and the slow fade of love...

The time when the real hurt was about the person you were then, with all the delusions that your mind could muster intact, when rationalisations and closure were words that meant little...

And you wonder if that white noise you've gotten used to hearing is the sound of settling..

Monday, October 17, 2011

When Change is the only Constant

My mother told me recently that I had returned with too much negative energy after my brief stint with my father. She based this observation on the "event" which, she is convinced, was just a moment of madness and not a life-altering epiphany. The thing about epiphanies ofcourse is that once they're out, events leading up to it are quite irrelevant. And everyone's free to believe what they want.

For example, I believe that healing moments of pure revelation lead to shifts within your system, which actually leads to something shifting throughout your life. And sure enough, ever since that day, things have been looking up. Sure, there are glitches, but not in an entirely bad way at all.

For one, an ex and I actually found ourselves laughing about life, love and other animals without the slightest twinge of bitterness. Then, all the random people cluttering up my life - gone! Again, no debris of regret or sorrow messing up that view. Also, I'm writing and actually finishing things I start! And finally, an infusion of some really cool people in my life. Oh, and a ghost in my house - but more on that some other time.

So, it works.

But it could also work just that little extra unexpected bit.

Like what happened with Aztec

Aztec and I have been friends for half a decade. During that time, we have seen each other through several personal crises, met each others' families and gotten to know each others' friends. Over the years, as we spent increasing amounts of time with each other, he became someone I talked with about anything. With confidences exchanged and vulnerabilities witnessed and protected, he has been one of my closest friends for a very long time.

And that's all it has ever been.

Yesterday, after an evening of wine and rum, and a bizarre conversation revolving around ideal threesome groupings (including famous and real people, with an in-depth reason for the choice) and a wish-list of partners, he said, "If there was one thing I would wish for, it would be that I was the kind of guy you were attracted to... I've never hurt you and I never will, I adore you and if you can see this working, I would marry you tomorrow." And then he kissed me. And I kissed him back (yes, it's a reflex action and I enjoy kissing and yes, it's got me into enough trouble and let's not go there anymore!)

Five years of a particular and comfortable perspective of the world and suddenly everything shifts off-kilter. With a few more kisses (I blame inertia) and a lot of talking, arguing and generally talking the thing to death, he said, "I can't go back to before." Shocked, I said, "So if I can't do this, and you can't do that... what happens to us?"

He said, "I don't know." Three little words that put me on top of the Most Disposable Relationship List in someone else's life. Again. If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I did see this coming. My only comfort in that entire time was the certainty that neither of us would ever make a move which would endanger what we have for something that we probably won't. I have been wrong in the past, and there's a certain kind of symmetry in knowing that I was wrong here too.

The truth is - I do love him and I'm certain he loves me. But is it romantic love? Do I have it in me to find out? While my brain was imploding during and after the kiss, did I also enjoy it? I don't know. Yes, it was nice but it was Aztec! Why wouldn't it be? But did it make me want to go further? Er.. umm... Hmm.

The fact is, things once felt can't be "unfelt" anymore, and it's unfair to demand it anyone. So the only way forward is - forward. My choices are to avoid my friend for the rest of my life, afraid to address this particular development with the hope that if I can't see it, then it can't see me (we all have a bit of Calvin inside us). Alternately, I have to acknowledge that this is a classic case of Timing being great, Chemistry not so much. The fact that a friendship is at stake over this discovery is just unfortunate.

But one thing is for certain - things change regardless of how hard you wish for them not to. Five years ago, I had found myself in this very situation and I made the choice to cling to my friend, regardless of the cost to me. Despite that, we haven't spoken for years - and guess what? It's not the end of the world. Our lives are a product of various choices, and no matter what you do, you can't control the choices of others. And that's truly how it should be. All you can hope for, at the end of the day, is being able to forgive yourself and others and living it as truthfully as you can.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Years of standing on the precipice
Looking on to a view that didn't exist
A fragment of memory, a bleed of dreams
The need to dive, a tempting song
But out of the ashes of those charred remains
The phoenix of our love flies stillborn.

The hours fly by, the moments still
Daylight erases all manners of sins
Receding footsteps echo off the mirrors
That reflect strangers' faces back at us
We wait a few breaths, drink a few glances
And wait for our unending swan song.

Movie Moments

So we've all done it - fantasized about bumping into an ex at a time when the stars mysteriously align to make sure that you are in a happy place, in a room full of people who love you, that you look good and couldn't give a damn what he thought about you. You've also imagined the various things you would say to him - mostly revolving around what a total asshole he was - but the words would flow from a perfectly scripted place and you wouldn't be tongue-tied or nervous; where you got your entry and exit cues perfectly, where laughs came from rueful mirth and not a desperate cover-up. And the final movie-ideal of actually getting an apology (gasp!!) and being able to genuinely say that "it was okay" - and know that when you said it, you really had forgiven two flawed people and the shit that happened.

Movies and books talk about these kinds of moments. I'm here to tell you that when it happens in real life - and shockingly, it does! - it's much more satisfying.