The Test and Lessons of Time

There is no going back on some things you do, and no recovery of some pieces you give from yourself. Some people have deep pockets and shallow hearts. They give their word today and forget it tomorrow. They give their hearts forever, but that “forever” turns out to be just a day or a year. I am one of the unlucky few. I only say what I sincerely feel, and then only when I know that I truly mean it.

In loving, my regrets do not extend to the casual losses of heartache. My hurt is not for the wasted time, the squandered pride, and unrequited feelings. To my mind, the people I loved were worthy of the time I spent, the heartache I felt, and the pieces of my heart that I will never be able to fully heal. And even if they were not, then the love itself was worth it, in its sincerity and purity.

What I regret most, is giving people once loved a window to my truest self, and then knowing, long after they have proven transient in my life, that they might be still watching, through that window, lurking on the fringes of my existence, and silently judging me.

And it wouldn’t have mattered at all if the dishonesty they accused me of was real, because only I know that what I gave was my very essence. It was the only thing, that remained unchanged, after life presented me with challenges and bottomless heartbreaks in ten different cities on four continents.

Some people agonise over the secrets that they surrendered to the ears of lovers or friends, in the heat of passion, or on the coals of remorse. I do not care if the world knew about my petty secrets. It would not bother me if everyone found out about the men I loved; even my teenage follies and the occasional bad choices. But I am grateful that the objects of my old desires cannot look at my words here, to know what I think of them now. Let them cling to the bliss of ignorance, and think what makes them happy. That I still remember, or that I really forgot. Let them keep and shape their memories of me, as a foolish woman, as a slut, or as the one they should have kept. And at least I have this magical place to laugh and to cry about things that happened, or almost did, or never came to pass. I can reflect on old loves, like I reflect and whinge on my rivals without fearing judgment.

For all my foolishness in love, I am grateful that at least I kept a space to myself to reflect where my former lovers cannot reach me. I think there was always a part of me that mistrusted men, and prevented me, sometimes at the last minute, from throwing caution completely to the wind. But I wish that feminine self-preservation extended further to my close female friends.

I wish I was woman enough to carry my pain alone, and bury it in this little wrinkle in the anonymous cyberspace, and not seek validation from anyone. It is a lesson I learned now. If I were observant, I would have learnt it earlier from the same woman who caused this regret. She always kept much of herself hidden, and only chose to show me things that I could relate to. But I was too much in pain to notice, and only started waking up when something inside me decided to rebel against my familiar, and house-trained, sorrow.

There are things now that I cannot talk about. It is the price I have to pay for being untrustworthy with the workings of my inner self. It is my punishment for giving a bit too much. But I will not allow it to be the end of the world for me, and it is not the end of giving parts of myself.

Some people I know in real life read this, and have access to my deepest thoughts. Most have proven their worth, not by being as foolish and open as I am to them, but by being always honest, empowering me to see things differently, rather than enabling my weakness. Not all of them are women. Some are family and some are decade-long friends. But all of them waited long enough for the privilege and understood it as an opportunity to critique, not a request for validation.

Almost 15 years ago I had to migrate my blog because my then husband and his family used to read it. It started as simple baby blog then turned into a space to chronicle my struggle with divorce and conflicts with my child’s father. I painstakingly removed all identifying information from blog posts, and started to speak freely about my ex. It was difficult at first to go past the self-imposed barriers of loyalty and pride. It became easier as time passed. Now my ex and I are so distant physically and mentally that it no longer matters to me if he reads here and how he judges it.

Time renders many things irrelevant, and perhaps this is also one of them. So I will turn the page on this story for now and speak about other things. From now on I will try to put things to the test of time, will what I say and do today matter next year? Will I love you next year like I love you today? Will I trust you next year like I trust you today?

The answer has to be a clear YES before I write about it here. There will be no place for “I am not sure”, or “I do not know”. And this cancels out most matters of the heart, because hearts are fickle and prone to change. It also cancels out dreams, aspirations and desires. The same is true for best laid plans. When I arrived in Kenya in 2015, I said to myself that I came home. I believed that I will never leave the sunshine of Africa again. Six years later I am here, staring out of a window into the darkness of the incoming European winter. I could tell myself that this is only transitory, that I will return in five years, when my son finished school, but I fear that the fates are already laughing at me, that my destiny might be to stay here into my old age, or to die here before I even get to enjoy my twilight years.

Will it matter in a year? Will this hold true in a year? Even if I say a clear YES today, the outline of a NO might be already drawn for me on the pages of destiny.

Time is such a joker, so keep a space to yourself, to change your mind about everything, and to erase what you have written yesterday, with great conviction.

I Hope You Are Ok

I got a text from you today. You just said: I hope you are ok. I replied that it was not the common cold but I was getting better, although I still missed you. I asked how you were. Good you said, you just wanted to say hi, and you were trying a no-carb diet. I said you must be suicidal since you did not eat meat either and added that I  hoped you were not sick. Not sick, you replied.  I told you what I was up to, gym instead of lunch, a lot of reading, and I suggested you read the Lucia Berlin book, adding that it was just powerful stuff and not literary snobbery like the English Patient (I cannot resist those barbs, where you are concerned). You thanked me since you always needed something to read. I ended by saying that I appreciated you checking in and that I always thought about you, as I was sure you knew.

Apart from opening old wounds and resetting the counter I keep of days passed without contacting you, those texts are bittersweet. They tell me what I already know, that you care, and that you probably miss me too, even though you do not say it.

I will cry again today with the pain of regret, the knife that twists in my heart with each “what if”. Even through this little text, I feel you close to me. Like the day you lent me your jumper, it felt like a physical touch, a tentative embrace.

In our short acquaintance, I felt as if I held your heart between the palms of my hands. It trembled against my fingers like a frightened bird, and as much as I wanted to hold it in warmth and comfort, it had to be set free. My heart breaks daily because I know that behind all your snobbery and pretense there is a soul, a twin to mine, a soul I have glimpsed through your eyes and recognized. Where do I go now after I recognized you as my own heart?

I did appreciate you contacting me.  But it still hurts, and I forgot to ask you, since you were an expert before me in matters of heartache and heartbreak, will it ever stop hurting?

When you texted today, I told you to quit worrying and that it was all part of life, but the simple truth is this: No I am not ok.