Love is the counterweight to death, because it would be counteractive and completely, and utterly untrue to state that love is similar in any way to death. Love, you see, as illustrated by the pop music industry is a good feeling, that prompts a state of mind that just wants to tell whatever it is that defines the wake time of your being, that it is what makes the ride worthwhile, is not at all like death. Love and life are intertwined it tells us, so much so, that life without love feels like a burden of waiting for something to happen. Yeah, so much so I feel, that the days, you think about love could be the sole reason, why you even developed the confidence to smile and keep on breathing.
Sometimes I wish I could still feel it. One day trade with someone, who is capable of feeling it willingly; who is capable of unburdened love and still believes, you can be loved for who you are. I loved so much so, you didn’t have to love me. While I was myself, an asshole through and through. When I believed the slogans, I’d done everything right. Be yourself and you will be happy. Bullshit. You live like shit simply as yourself. What is comforting is that it feels probably the same in every other skin. That’s why I wish I could for just one day, which would be enough for me and timed to the second I look closer, trade a soul blessed holding onto the ignorance to believe in a higher fulfillment found in love with the stupidity of a guy who builds a life around questioning it. Ultimately, I even started telling her about my father. Not much, just what was considered socially acceptable, and didn’t make me more broken given drinks shared between a man and his favorite lady bartender.
“Go out, find some friends?”
“That’s what he said, yes”
“Did you find any?”
“No” I bit my lip.
“You must have been a weird kid”.
“That’s what the other kids thought, too”.
We remained silent for a while, then she inserted another glass in the conversation and poured herself from my bottle.
“I was also alone a lot as a child”. She told me almost whispering. Like she’s ashamed of it.
“Because the others didn’t like you or you didn’t like the others?”
“The others didn’t call me out on it, but they didn’t really give me the time of the day. Let’s say sometimes I was a weird kid too.”
“You can read from your face…and I don’t mean simply of the hanging bright-colored curls of your hair”
“You mean that I’m weird?”
“No, but you know what it’s like to be alone. You’re showing it in your wisdom, that you didn’t forget. One could say it even makes you beautiful”
“That is, you?”
“If it were only me”
She was silent. I had gone too far trying to spin it.
“I just mean you’re cute looking, but that doesn’t make you beautiful alone.”
The world gave it up for me at this point. All the men broke out in laughter and clapped to be ironic. The woman looked at me in shock. I knew what my words could have meant. She answered with “Ahja” and I tried to reset.
“You know what I meant”.
“You don’t have to explain yourself”.
“This has nothing to do with explaining, I just want you to understand my exact words and what they mean for me”
“I see what you mean.”
I didn’t want my words to run away. I thought about reinstating them another way, but I didn’t want to frustrate her either.
“Well”. She responded.
In the end, I didn’t get to tell her what I wanted to tell her. We talked about her for the rest of the evening. I wasn’t sure if I’d achieved anything that night. But then I thought I shouldn’t see it that way. I’ll feel the moment when the time is right. I always could before that. I was even pretty good at it. And was it bad for her if I didn’t show off all my cards to the table?
I loved her so much, she didn’t even have to love me. I couldn’t tell her that. I once asked her how many times she’d heard it before. A strange question considering the context. Many would not have answered it, changed the subject or asked me why I wanted to know. It couldn’t hide it anymore, not that I had gone to too much trouble in the time that had passed. Despite that, she answered the question. Somehow, I knew she would. I knew she wouldn’t ask me why I wanted to know. Of course, I assumed she knew why and that I didn’t just ask. But she knew that I knew, that she knew. What a goddamn circular spin that was. I wanted to tell her, but there was so much tension between us. So much not said that sometimes I didn’t know if I should say anything at all.
Her answer was “few” and after “far too short of time “. One had only known her for a week and confess his love. Crazy. That’s not love, I thought when I heard it. But after what amount of time, was it okay to love someone. A week? A year? A decade? What if I loved her from the first moment? It isn’t about the time, is it? Was it just okay if the person loved you too or at least was not averse to letting you love them? It could only be that way.
The word “love”; only carries power if you say it and it is returned. You should be careful with that. Because the evil L-word changes everything, so I didn’t pronounce it lightly. If you were already sitting in a prison cell, there was no reason to make the warden an enemy on top of your already hostile fellow love prisoners. I tried to give her a reason to let me go, so I showed her what was the worst of what I really thought.
“You can smoke all your life and live to be 101. You can never touch a cigarette and die of lung cancer. Life is not fair and since I do not like to submit to chance, I prefer to die while I enjoy my cigarette”
“I wish I was like you.” She shook her head laughing.
“Why?”, I laughed and questioned her joke, “You always say you don’t care. You think you should act like an adult. Sometimes you come off as a child. It’s because you do what you want, but only if you can, isn’t it? That’s why I want to be like you.”
“You seem to be doing what you want too. After all, there are times when you’re there five times a week.”
“I’ve told you many times, I come for the good company and the affordable drinks.”
She grinned, she knew of my dishonesty.
“Besides, do I really do what I want? I’ll do whatever I want, leave no option out. But be honest with me, this has nothing to do with dream fulfillment.”
“It’s also about enjoying the time here. You can’t keep thinking about the future.”
She said to me, while I drank up. “Would you?” I pointed to the glass.
“Sure”. She poured me and went on, “What did you want to be as a kid when you grew up?”
“First a butterfly, then a sorcerer.”
She shoved the glass at me.
“Nice way to say mentally disturbed” I laughed.
“Well, apart from the wizard and the butterfly, had any dreams at all?”;
“Not really. I wanted to run away. I did that. Now I’m sitting here.”
“And since then, don’t you know what to do next?”
“Are you psychoanalyzing me here? And you say you want to be like me.”
“It’s not hard being me. Don’t distract.”
“Yeah, I don’t know, I was stranded here, and I shouldn’t have.”
“Then why don’t you just move on, you don’t seem to have a problem with that”
“Would you try your luck running away twice if you crossed all the bridges and a way back to your old self, feels like a step back?”;
“You see…” I point to the table as if something was standing there, “that’s not why I left in the first place. Sure, I left to go beyond. But I like it here, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.” “Then try more things if you don’t see the point. Beyond can’t mean, you won’t find a new home ”
“I’ve tried things before and what I’ve noticed is that I ‘m just bored of everything at some point. Then there are the people I have to deal with. In mountaineering, it is the young, healthy nature boys and women who have rediscovered their, to quote them, “primal connection” to nature. In chess, it is old men and young nerdy kids. You will meet some forced positive people in book clubs or nonconformist crackpots with alcohol under their breath, and they all talk as if they knew, that what they are doing is the way and not just a path. I can imagine what they’d talk to me about, so no need to talk to them really.”
“I don’t want to be like you anymore if you can’t see that they have chosen for themselves”
“You see, and that’s why I don’t want to be you, many people are upright clichés, maybe you’ll see it sometime.”
“You’re a cliché too”
“Which no less strengthens me in my faith.”
“Am I one for you, then?”
“No, or I wouldn’t be sitting here”
Half listening, cutting or courting her attention, I appreciate it later more because she didn’t do it just out of courtesy. She had found interest in me as a person, not in what she could make out of me, and it didn’t seem to scare her away what was already there. She listened to me, even laughed sometimes about me and about the situations I got into. My stories even managed to elicit questions from her. Curiosity was so always layered in her questions because she asked only out of curiosity. Little quirks followed her suite like how she slowed down cleaning the leftover fluid from glass, or how she moved her tongue while listening. Otherwise, she only gave me distancing disinterest, calculated but her attention remained sincere. I have to be honest because she didn’t make it easy for me, I wanted her all the more. That in itself is already a defect in me and I know many men do not notice if their beloved ones want to have their peace, but some had to manage nevertheless through sheer will of mental penetration, otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many couples out there. I wanted to know their trick, this open secret that in my close environment only I couldn’t figure out.
I’ve seen it so many times before, those sweet-talkers praying after the women “Yes and Amen”, sticking close to their heels and licking their soles if they would have wanted them to. I always found it difficult to refuse a beautiful woman’s request, but I was aware of its necessity. Asphalt Pavement – I’ve never heard a woman say she wanted any. Not as a lover. Not as a partner. Maybe as a husband if he was rich. The only problem was that sometimes as a man you will meet someone so delightful you will want to be rolled over by them, I hadn’t understood that before. I called it a myth. When she asked me to keep her key safe and her one plant hydrated when she was on vacation, I just said yes. I hadn’t heard any details, nor date, nor an address.
I was thinking about going through her apartment when she wasn’t there. Out of curiosity, not perverted lust. I didn’t, of course even when I missed her the most and thought that digging through her stuff would bring me closer to her again. I quickly became aware of the harmfulness of my thoughts, so I didn’t do it, but I still liked to play around with the cold metal of the key chain in my jacket pocket whenever I went out for a smoke.
In the evening I thought of her and wondered if she could feel how much I thought of her. It is foolish to believe that the energy that came out of my begging and pleading in the same state was more powerful than my desire for another glass of Whiskey without her. When I was drunk enough, I didn’t think of her. I was just thinking about me.
She was gone for two weeks. She called me when she arrived at the airport. It felt good to be needed by her. There I was, finally, more for her than just a man who came into a bar and with his tip covered the monthly expenses for the odds and ends of a waitress.
The worst thing that can happen to a lover is that he recognizes his own pattern. You see you want something, you have an idea of how to get it. I recognized my pattern. I always developed a plan. Sometimes a good one, sometimes a bad one. Didn’t make a difference it rarely worked. If I’m like that myself, how can I think others aren’t like that? And here begins the trap that will lead me to die old and alone. Everything suddenly has a second meaning and I began to doubt every action. You couldn’t get out of your way of thinking. I couldn’t get out of here.
Everything she did meant what she did. But at the same time, it could also mean exactly the opposite. I knew she smart, therefore a master of intrigue. Sometimes the true meaning laid in the little things. Like how she stretched out her fingers. If her index finger was pointing at me. If the little finger was at an exactly 36-degree angle stretched away from me. That meant something. The little things.
Sometimes what she meant matched up with her intentions moving the bigger picture. The way she looked at me. How she chose her words. How her voice changed. How careful she chose her subjects. Whether she touched my hand when I paid. I knew I was interpreting too much. But I was also careful not to show it, but by far not careful enough. I loved her attention, no matter what.
So I also told her how I killed a rabbit. How in my youth I wandered out in the forest and came back home with bloody hands. Hoping she’d push me away. She seemed slightly shocked. In the end, she probably thought I was lying because next time she told me to make a ragout out of him and laughed at her own joke for a minute straight.
For me, we were a game, where I didn’t know if she was playing with open cards if she knew that I wasn’t playing with open cards, if she was pulling some out of her sleeve herself, or if our cards matched the same game at all. There are only so many UNO cards that outdo a blue-eyed white dragon. I just didn’t know which one and I enjoyed the ambiguity. Not knowing which card could cost you the game meant not knowing which one would win it. But that was the problem. The source of my doubt in the accuracy of our friendship, that build up regardless over the span of many evenings.
Was it just another game for me? I loved every moment I was with her. I loved the way she looked at me when I walked through that door. It spurred me on to sit with her and give her the whole evening. If I didn’t give it to her, it felt worthless, like wasted time. Was that love or wasn’t it?
You’re irreplaceable to me.
I don’t care about your past so much that I like the person you are. I look at what she did to you, and I could almost thank her if I didn’t know what she did to you.
I see what you want to be.
I want to encourage you when you think you can’t anymore.
I want to get you out, just take you out when the passion starts making you sick.
I want to be your equalizer in the evening by not letting you forget how to smile.
I want to be there if you fail.
I want to be the sponge that absorbs all the excess frustration when things don’t go your way.
I want to be there if you make it.
God damn it, I want to be there.
The others would have spoken of love, but that wasn’t love, that was my thought into nothingness. Why couldn’t I tell her that? I hated every moment I wasted thinking. It made me unhappy that thinking had so much about it. You turn around in circles forever, without end and above all without meaning. Someone gets sick and that makes them unhappy.
I was on my way home. If I wasn’t allowed to be happy, at least no one should remind me. As if they tortured me on purpose with their dates, kisses and love confessions. I don’t want to see it anymore, what I feel I am never ready for. I would love to get in between and ask them how they dared to be happy. “You bastards are just waiting for tomorrow. If she doesn’t love you anymore and he doesn’t touch you anymore. Grace to you if you decide to have children by then. But why not anticipate, right?” it would have turned awkward.
I wasn’t ready yet to scream at random pedestrians, so I quietly endured it when I waited for the subway. My eyes should be able to endure six minutes of closeness. To distract myself, I looked back and forth, read one of these subway “newspapers”; but in the end, my eyes wandered back to the girl with the perfect smile and the boy with the perfect style, I must have been jealous, because I couldn’t look away. But not of the boy because of that girl. My wish only went to nothing, but his wish came true, wrapped in her arms, he didn’t even look like he wanted it to. The subway came in. I stood on the white line. When I saw that the couple made their way to the same car, I changed my plan and got in two doors further down. Six minutes of togetherness was enough. With the seventh, I was afraid I’d have pushed them in front of the subway.
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