Here are words I left unsaid. Not because the timing was never right. Not because I felt you were the wrong person to bestow them upon. Not because I didn’t mean them wholeheartedly. Here are words I left unsaid because I didn’t know at the time
that I would never get the chance to say them to you.
It was never love at first sight.
And I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe we come to love people without first knowing who they are, underneath the name and face. Maybe I even raised my brow at your mannerisms when we first met. You, the life of the party, talking loud and gesticulating as you went as if the whole world revolved around you. And maybe it did. I know mine did. We met under less-fortunate circumstances; I was at a place I didn’t want to be, and I almost didn’t go. Almost called with the oh-so-believable excuse that I was feeling under the weather. But then I would never have gotten to know you.
I love puzzles. Not our guessing games.
I used to do the Sunday puzzles albeit I was terrible at them. Still, I tried for the thrill of it. I don’t do that anymore. The older I get, the more I value certainty above all else. I’ve come to develop a distasteful stomach for your little games. The ones that constantly keep me on the edge of my seat, the ends of my toes, guessing “Does he feel the same way?”, “What did that ambiguous one-liner mean?”, “Is he saying it out of common courtesy or are hints being dropped?”. And you’ve programmed me to love these games of yours the moment you deliver them at my front door, but the aftertaste was always bitter. Puzzles, confusing and frustrating as they may be, have a definite answer. Yours never do.
I wish we got the chance to dance.
Now, both of us can’t dance even if our lives depended on it, but you have more rhythm than I do. You could imitate those stupid videos and look cool if you wanted to, and I would stay on the sidelines cheering you on. As it turned out, that was how we were the whole time; me in your shadows, me a function of you, me defined by you, me getting invited to places only because of you. But perhaps you needed someone who would attempt to steal your light. You wanted someone who was bolder, with loosened boundaries and higher tolerances. Enough will never be enough for you because your whole life is about searching for the next higher bar to break, the next heart to break. Still, a clumsy, barefoot dance in a New York high rise at sunset would’ve been nice.
You are a vision in a suit and tie.
My twenty years have been more of a clump of drafted chapters than a cliche rom-com moment, save for one. As if turning all gender-stereotypical movie scenes on their heads, I will never erase the image of seeing you standing before me in a suit and tie for the first time. Admittedly, you looked just like every other guy in the room, but the difference was how you wore it like you deserved to be in it. The way you deserved all the good things the world had to offer. And under the suit was still the same goofy boy who carried himself lightly, who had his family name on his back and his siblings waiting back home. I bit down on my tongue and catapulted at you an insult about your suit. On the off chance you replied with a compliment, I didn’t know how to respond.
I adored your vulnerability.
You kept it a secret, kept your emotions tucked away, said “I’m fine” whenever somebody would ask. But every now and then, our eyes would lock for a fraction of a second and it’s like I’m the only one who had a key in. You never stopped carrying the world on your shoulders, and it’s always been one of your finer attributes. You took everyone’s problems as your own but never the other way round. You break all the time but you refuse to receive help, much less ask for it. And it’s less of me wanting to try to fix you, more of me wanting to tell you I’ve been there too and I’ll be there for you then. But you kept changing the locks within.
You always knew to say what I wanted to hear. But you never said what I needed to hear.
My friends warned me about you.
The old Chinese proverb about spectators seeing the game more clearly than players fits well here. It didn’t matter if you held the door open for me or called me out of the blue, every point of contact with you was enough to warrant an overly long call to them, me repeatedly questioning the reciprocity. I was hooked by your willingness to play the game, you could even say dazzled by the colors of it all. But all they saw was red. I brushed off their comments like dust particles on shelves because I wanted to feed into the perfect notion of trusting you, that you could be the one. I trusted that thought so much to the point where I started planning my life around you, even when they said “if he’s too good to be true, he probably is”. To which I responded: “I trust him”, but…
God, it was spectacularly painful to trust you.
You never made it easy for me. Despite how much the air between us held, the responsibility forever fell on me. I was always the adult and you were ever the child (if not all times, then most times). If I look away and divert attention for a second, you would whine about it and I would mistake your immaturity for a romantic clinginess, which pulls me back constantly. You could go away for days claiming to be busy, drop my hand, make me mad, make me near the cliff of giving up; yet the second you call, I come running back. Every beep of your phone induces a second guess in my mind, my brain working overtime to figure out if you’re talking to someone more interesting. And you laugh at stranger conversations, not telling me the happenings of when I was absent. I never had a problem being left out of someone else’s world, but I had hoped your world would include my presence, even if I were shoved in the corner. Because you can’t show up to where I work and drive away alone when your text alert goes off. You can’t walk me home and wrap me in a blanket of invisibility the next time you see me. You can’t ask me out then ask your friends to come along and spend the night with them, casting me aside like a ragged doll. You can’t ask the right questions and never give me truthful answers. You can’t call me in the depths of the ungodly hours only when she’s not available. You can’t plan to break me so you could learn how to fix her.
But if you stood before me today, unwilling to move until I say something to you, I would very much rather bite my tongue until it bleeds.