I know how it feels to like someone.
I know what it’s like to wake up to the thought of what they’re having for breakfast and wonder about where they are as their favorite song plays in your ear. I am familiar with the constant game of looking around and hoping to bump into them. I understand the gravity of receiving the text message first and magic in the extra second a hint of their perfume lingers in the air.
And alongside the giddy, I have also become accustomed to the dangling, the uncertainty and the fear of things not going exactly as I hoped. I understand the weight of the silence, the turmoil with every mixed signal and the bearing of a missing Facebook greeting every birthday.
Most especially, I know how it is to swallow the universe of him over and over again, just so I won’t be overwhelmed by my feelings.
So I know how much this is going to hurt.
In my head, I tried to make it work. You were nice enough. I was free to discover where it could go.
But despite everything and everyone encouraging us to fall into the pattern that felt like was bound to happen anyway, I always had a sense of panic about the situation.
I told myself it was happening too fast.
From twenty years of remaining unnoticed, I became the person someone wanted to be around. I barely knew you but you were already worrying about me. Everyday felt like I was being asked for a decision when I don’t even understand how I felt yet.
It was the spotlight of eyes looking and your gentle knocking that must have scared me. I was losing control about how to go about with my alleged feelings.
I told myself I was still in a phase of independence.
Though challenging, moving to the city was also exhilarating, and to be a single woman in the city was a wonderful idea. I gave myself permission and I went wherever I wanted to go. As surprising as it is, I liked not having to text anyone if I had trips on a whim; it was a personal secret. And when you began waiting for me, I was slowly being tamed. Too early, too early.
I wasn’t used to having anyone think about me.
I told myself this: you were complicated and I couldn’t survive worrying. Giving you a chance meant a lot. I would be changing my world and I would make you permanent. I would be giving you the permission to be part of my routine. I would be allowing myself to be absorbed and rooted in you. And whatever comes out of your efforts of persuasion, I would automatically make you important, someone I won’t forget.
I was making excuses, of course. Not for myself, but for you.
I’ve listed all these reasons in my head to delay the inevitable. But I figured it out on the night you worried whether I ate dinner or got home late. I just didn’t want to admit it.
I just don’t like you like that. And, even if I give it time, I know I won’t.
And I’m sorry. It feels like I’ve tricked you into hoping.
I didn’t say anything out rightly, I didn’t stop you, because I liked being liked. Though uncomfortable of the attention, I liked feeling special and knowing that someone wanted me. And so, I let the unspoken things play out as if it was no big deal, even if I knew that you’d be digging your own funeral at the end of all this.
Also, I was indecisive because I wanted to give you a chance to prove me wrong. I was buying you time. Though insistent on stopping things, my subconscious allowed me to try to wrap my head around the idea of you. I thought that maybe, I was wrong and just scared. Maybe you thought I was too, and perhaps, that’s why you’re being persistent.
But after a whirlwind of uncertainty, finally, I am certain. So certain it scares me that I’ll break your heart.
I felt it in the way you tried to mold yourself with every conversation. When I liked soldiers, you were one and when I needed the comfort of sweetness, you’d claim to find comfort in them too. When your songs were too loud and I was getting distracted, you’d tune it down too quickly. You tried so hard to blend yourself into my world, I couldn’t see you as a person anymore.
It clicked when you folded and didn’t speak up. You swallowed your opinions a little too often to be the guy I would want to debate with.
You claim to be an idea person but everything’s always just been inside you that I start to doubt if they are really there. The longer it took, the more I heard your voice being drowned out, the less I believed that you could be the guy that would challenge me to be better. You couldn’t even fight for yourself and I was already all too familiar of giving up.
I knew it the moment you made me buckle up. No, it wasn’t because you made me nervous; you just didn’t allow me to be myself. Breathing in the same room became difficult, not because I was reeling at your presence, but because I felt like I was being watched. I feel like you only like me because I was a proper woman now and not for the wonder and silliness I am yet to unleash. You wouldn’t appreciate me if I was to be real.
And then, there was the smoke. It was the deal breaker. It was only then that I had the courage to admit to myself, that whether I liked to or not, I was going to have to stop you before you get too attached. There’s no point in playing tag. I can’t leave you too broken.
I never intended to hurt you. I hope you understand. But letting this go on would just be too much, for the both of us.
I can’t be the girl who’ll hold your hand, and you aren’t the guy who I’ll give my heart to.
I’m really sorry it had to happen this way, but even I can’t think of how else it will play out.
This is the end of the teasing, the jokes. This is where we leave pseudo-dates and the waiting for me to come down for dinner. This is goodbye to what you think was implied.