I want to tell you a story. It’s a story I’ve written and rewritten about 100 times over the course of the last 2 years- a story I’ve only ever told 1 person, who consequently advised me not to share it with anyone else as it wasn’t anybody’s business but mine. She’s right- it isn’t anybody’s business. But I’m not doing this for anyone but myself. I feel like I’ve wilfully been carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and now I’m choosing to let it go.
Let me start a couple of years back- December 2011 to be exact. I remember coming home one night. I’d been out drinking. It was late. My mother messaged me to say that they weren’t home and that she had hidden the key in the usual spot. It took every ounce of strength in me to keep my body from caving in on the way home. I managed to make it just past the kitchen before falling to the floor. I prayed. I screamed. I cursed. I prayed some more. I was crying the way someone would cry over the death of a loved one. The truth is that somebody did die- I died. I was mourning the person I thought I was, who no longer was.
I should probably backtrack a little. You see, I’d spent that day out drinking with a friend- someone I met during my first year at UCT. We had most of our philosophy lectures together. We became very good friends over a very short period of time. We were extremely close- best friends even. We’d go out to drink often. We’d get drunk and talk about anything and everything. It was his birthday that day. It wasn’t supposed to be any different to the other times, except for the fact that we’d probably get just a little more drunk than usual. But that day wasn’t like all the other times.
There was an energy pervading our little corner table that I hadn’t felt before. I felt slightly tense. I could tell that he did too. Our conversations started becoming deeper with every drink. Stares lingered just a bit longer than normal, our seats moved closer and time seemed to slow down with every shot of Jack. I found myself fixated on his eyes and his nose, and on his lips- the way his top lip curved like the ebb and flow of the ocean, how the creases danced over the skin like folds on a rose; his lips parting and then meeting with every word he said like the wings of an eagle in flight- virile but tender, crude but graceful. I was so enamored that often I didn’t even hear what he was saying, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered in that moment was that he was there, and that I was there with him.
That was the moment that it hit me- I was in love. I was unequivocally, profoundly, violently in love. I was unequivocally, profoundly, violently in love with a man. My head started spinning and I felt like I wanted to throw up. I made up an excuse to get home. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
You see the problem was that I had dated girls before, and I was sure that I loved them. I had sex with girls before and I knew that I enjoyed it. What I was feeling didn’t make any sense. I’d never been more terrified in my life. I cut all contact with him. I spent the subsequent three years in a perpetual state of war with myself. It took me four years to accept what happened that day. I haven’t felt that strongly about anyone since. Sometimes I wish hadn’t cut him out. Other times I know it was for the best. I had to learn to love myself first before I could properly love anyone else.
To the girls I’ve been with since then, know that what we shared wasn’t faked (but I’m sure you knew that). To one girl in particular (you know who you are), I love you so much. That was and still is real. I shared with you parts of my mind, soul and body that no one has ever seen. You loving me in spite of everything taught me to love myself. You saved my life and I’ll never be able to thank you enough.
I expect to lose a couple of friends, and I expect a couple of familial relationships to become strained as a result of this post, but it’s ok. My skies have been grey and cloudy for way too long; a cloud is only allowed to become so heavy before it bursts and rain comes falling from the sky. I’m ready for that rain to come and wash away the sadness that has been tainting my mind and my heart for the last 4 years. I’m ready for the rain to water my gardens and give life to the seeds of joy that I know lie buried deep within my soil.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I might fall in love with a girl, I might fall in love with a boy. I welcome whatever is coming my way with an open heart and an open mind. Until then, I have myself, and I have a few good friends, and that’s enough for me.