I’ve never been in love this way, I think to myself. There was the lover who I had compared to the moon, the high school sweetheart whose smile was a sparkling crescent and she had soft hands which made me believe, for no reason at all, that she would become a famous pianist some day. She became a student of English a few years later, and the last I heard from her was how she was getting engaged to some guy who claimed he was possessive because he loved her and not the other way round. I loved her too, but not enough to think of her as my possession, and maybe some people like being possessed, it gives them a sense of belonging.
I’ve never been in love this way, I tell myself. There had been the lover I had called up from my mom’s phone and counted how many times it rang before she had picked up on the other side and when she did I had whispered, “I like you”. It had seemed a momentous thing to say that night, the admittance that she meant more to me than I could tell her, and I had closed my eyes and hoped my silence conveyed to her what words didn’t, or couldn’t. She hadn’t stayed for long, neither had I been heartbroken when she left. Maybe I should have. Not all silences convey meaning, I learnt, and some just stay afloat amongst the sea of your conversation like icebergs waiting to sink ships.
I’ve never been in love this way, I repeat to myself. There had been the lover to whom I had said it so many times, the feeling of those words stuck to my lips long after they had been said. I had repeated them, sometimes between breaths, sometimes breathless. I had said them with our eyes looking into each other’s, unafraid, and unmoving. I had said them with my lips on hers, and she had swallowed them all and spit them out into long moans. Maybe I should have said them a lot more; maybe I shouldn’t have said them at all. Maybe I should’ve held her longer, refused to leave until she kissed me again, and stayed when she had asked me to go.
I’ve never been in love this way, I remind myself. The lovers in front of me exchange vows as I remember I’ve never been to a church with someone I love. I had promised someone a long time back, but some promises never know even before they are made, they’ll never reach fulfilment. There is cheering, and it’s growing louder, the photographer is busy, asking people to hold their poses while he keeps triggering the camera into violent flashes. The lovers are smiling at each other, and I know what they’re thinking, that this moment gives back everything the years have taken from them, that in this moment they look at each other and see not the present, but the past, every first, every fight, every kiss. That in this moment, they know, they’ve loved in a way most people don’t in a lifetime.