Monday, April 8, 2013

Girl, Instagrammed

You have a photograph of me. In that photograph, I’m laughing at a joke cracked by an unseen person, my face is lit up, I look pretty. You have another photograph of me. In that one, I’m smiling bravely through a hint of tears. I had got my heart beaten that day and you had been kind to me. You don’t know this but I was smiling because I saw you. You have a picture of me looking seriously at another person as I go through work. There’s one where I’m sleeping on your shoulder on a long bus journey. Even when you see me for hours in a day, you just have snapshots of me, frozen in time, out of context, yet forever true. You say you love me. And I wonder which snapshot of mine you’re thinking of when you say those words.

I’m terrified of the girl in those pictures. That girl is so happy, unfazed by the world, beyond reach and yet, she looks like at any moment she will turn and smile at you. You do love that girl. Who wouldn’t? She is the happiest, brightest, shiniest star in the Universe you occupy. Yet, you don’t see that – just like the star – by the time the light has reached you, the moment is already in the past.

I think that’s the beauty of snapshots. They last. They give you an illusion of eternity. Who wouldn’t want to love someone for eternity, if that’s what it looks like? A series of happy moments, that you will share. There’ll be no hint of worry in her, no insecurity, no incompetence, no qualities that you would consider deal-breakers. She will always be the way she is in any of your favourite snapshots, and you’ll always love her.

And then there’s me. I’m the girl who wonders if you’re telling the truth about love, or if I’ll again lose to my mistress, the snapshot. Will you wake up one morning and look at the real person next to you – the one who’s scared of everything somedays, who is clingy and sometimes needs validation, the mostly inadequate, awkward person (not in the cute gawky way) who lives and breathes mundane like it was going out of style – and wonder what happened to the buoyant, uncomplicated, positive person whose picture you took? Will you reject the person, or the photoshop tool that promised you much more than was there?

In the end, if our house was burning down and you could take just one thing with you, will you come for me or will you try to save the photographs?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

So.. A Kiss is just a Kiss...?

Looking back, I can see that I’ve been dumped quite often. My shortest relationship was of 20 minutes. Sam and I had been hanging out with each other on a FWB basis for a few months when, one night, in the middle of a loud raucous nightclub, when I was well on my way to happy inebriation, he asked me out. He said, “So.. let’s you and I go out seriously... yes?” I stared at him, at his sweet, earnest face, and then I said, yes.  We kissed and then I went to meet my friends who were sitting at a table some distance away. When I returned, my relationship was over. He said, “You know what? Forget it. It won’t work.”

Alex and I went out for a remarkable four days. He asked me out after we had been hanging out with each other for years. He’s the one who helped me get over my double-whammy heartbreak (the other Sam), and he pulled me laughing and bantering right back from the edge. Over a couple of years, he earned my trust, treated me well – and then, one weird evening while he was giving me a ride back to my place, he said, “So how about we do this for real?”

I stared at his face, which looked more shocked at the fact that he had actually asked me the question, and I said, “Okay.. why not?” We grinned, terrified of this step we were taking, betting on people who we weren’t sure could handle our most vulnerable parts, and went for it. Two days of sex later, I went to visit my friend who was dying of cancer. I returned to “we need to talk”, when I was informed that “This isn’t going to work, and it’s best we end it before anyone gets hurt.”

Andy and I lasted all of no days. One day, after hanging out over many cups of coffee, he said that he’d like to see where this goes. It’s been so long since someone told me that there was a potential distance to be gone, that I said yes. Then he disappeared for 3 days – no contact. We got over that hump, and then, after an emotional trip spent with friends, family and scattered loved ones – a microcosm of what I consider my extended family – I returned home and asked him if he’d like to consider belonging to it in some small way. He said he’d love to talk about it, and then he disappeared for a week. So I cut my losses and run.

What losses? Everytime I fall in with someone’s plans with me, it’s because I’m already a little in love. When I say yes, it’s because I’m already imagining what it would be like to hold hands, to sit together on the same side of the diner booth, what it would feel to sit lightly touching each other, while we read our books or just doing our own stuff, to have unplanned surprise lunches and movies out and dinners in. I go in wholeheartedly. I don’t know any other way.

So why do I get dumped? If I’m to believe what these guys say, it’s bizarre. Many years later, Sam told me it was because right after he’d asked me and I’d said yes, I’d not stood with him, but had gone to see my friends at the next table. I waited for more, but that was all that came. When I said, “Yes, but I came back,” he said that it was too late by then. That was eight years ago, and since then Sam has been trying to get back with me and wonders why I don’t pay him any mind.

In Alex’s case, and not to my knowledge, he had his sexy-ex walk back into his life over the weekend that I was hanging with my very ill friend. However since I’d gone (“so soon after we had started going out”), it was clearly a sign that I wasn’t serious about us. And so he gave us up. Now, so many years later, during which we continue to be friends, he’s worked his ass off trying to get back to a place of affection which was offered to him so easily. And he wonders why I won’t give him his spot back.

I don’t understand it. Maybe it was because they were sure I didn’t care. Maybe it was because the chase was over. Maybe they think that I'm made of stone and don't get hurt by such betrayals.. Maybe... maybe.. The bottomline is – guys seem to ask me out, and when I say yes, they disappear.

And now there’s Aaren. He’s someone I met through my new business venture. We’ve known each other for about 8 months now. Divorced, a media man by profession, someone my mom’s met twice and approves of madly. And he said he loves me. We work together quite closely and intend to for the duration of the next couple of years. So if things go south at a personal level, it’s going to be awkward for a few years. And considering he’s one of my major highlights in the business, the down side will suck a lot.

The last few days, ever since the great “you know what I feel about you” moment, we’ve hung out once a day at least. He’s sought me out, I’ve seen him in his office, I’ve introduced him to a friend of mine, we’ve held hands, we’ve spent the night and slept entwined with each other. And kissed a couple of times.

All these things are huge exceptions to my usual modus operandi. I don’t know when was the last time I was comfortable calling a boy in the middle of the day, absolutely certain that he would be happy to hear from me, maybe even make himself available for an impromptu lunch. Or the last time all this happened without me saying the “L” word back or diving into the sack with him.

So maybe he’ll follow the same route, and wait for me to fall for him, and then he’ll walk away because the chase would be over. Maybe the sex will be terrible, which is why he’s not pulling me into it. Or maybe.. just maybe.. he’s perfect for me, the real thing, and there won’t be a downside ever.

How terrifying is that?