February unfolds with raindrops and pillows and that feverish feeling of missing something you can’t really put into words or shapes or figures and makes your stomach churns. Those fluffy rain clouds looms above you as you sip your first cup of coffee in the morning and your last cup of tea in the evening, heavy with million droplets of memories. Everything is silent, like waking up in a hotel room at 2.15 in the morning or standing alone inside an elevator rushing to the 27th floor. But there’s something slightly convenient about wandering around the house listlessly with your pajamas on when the sun is high, listening to Jonathan & Charlotte while reciting Laksmi Pamuntjak’s poems from The Anagram. You retreat to your bedroom when the storm hits and think about that French word, retrouvailles: the happiness of meeting again after a long time. You wonder if it’s worth the wait–people change and you’ve been hurt before. So you keep yourself busy doing almost everything you can think of, just to distract yourself from the weight of not knowing. You clean and dust and vacuum and mop and cook and water the plants like it’s the last time. You don’t write another unsent letters because they are too sad. But you keep your words nonetheless: home is simply a place where you’ll be missed. And though he carried these words with him that day, you are not sure if he remembers or if he knows that you really mean it, or if he actually cares; and so despite the cold and the downpour, you leave the front door open, ready for the retrouvailles.
It was 4 AM when you found yourself awoken to the sound of thunder and the pouring rain outside. You pulled your blanket closer, tighter; the dark clouds were looming over your bed as you fixed your gaze onto the white-painted ceiling. You scratched the back of your right leg with your left toes and you remembered the days when things were not as silent: when there were other sounds but rain and emptiness. That breezy summer-like desire that was so intense you could feel its passion over the distance. You grazed your fingers following the floral pattern of the unused pillow next to you–listening to the zip zip zip sound as your nails traced the lonely lines. It was so darn cold, so you turned to your left, reaching for the aircon’s remote control only to notice that you didn’t turned it on last night. You closed your eyes again but the weight of your feelings made you decided to tiptoe to the kitchen for a cup of hot chocolate instead. In the dark, you fell for the faint hum of the refrigerator which you found comforting for some reason, and you sat there on the cold floor, resting your back against the warm refrigerator door, watching the raindrops fell into the little stone-garden next to the kitchen. As you sipped the hot chocolate from the small red mug, you realized that all you wanted was just to show how much affection you had inside of you; but it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be, not now, not after what had happened. Something was welling up inside of you as you came to this point: you wanted to let things go, but you realized that you were not ready. You were not ready to give up. You had given up many times, but this time, you didn’t want to be that someone who walked away too easily. You wanted to know how it would feel to stay when you were being pushed away. You wanted to be loved for who you are, not what you can be. You should have said them all a long time ago instead of holding things back. You were thinking where you would be at the moment if only you had. Nothing seemed to be going right. There were too many misunderstandings that all you could do was laughed it all off even though you blamed yourself for the fact that they kept happening. You watched the shadows on the wall, the way they stood there in the border between existence and non-existence, and you tried to understand which was real and which was not. But it was too complicated at times. The only thing you wanted was for things to be okay; but they were not and you just had to deal with it. It was just too much and too overwhelming for you to handle. But no, you would not break down and cry. Not this time. So you chased away your tears and shut down your mind, and for a moment, there was silence all over, as if everything stopped moving for a while; but then your heart started singing. It sounded like Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up, and you hummed along until the call for morning prayers broke in the gloomy sky.
I won’t give up on us / Even if the skies get rough / I’m giving you all my love / I’m still looking up / And when you’re needing your space / To do some navigating / I’ll be here patiently waiting / To see what you find… [I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz]
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to a pair of wonderful eyes that you have: not because they are light brown or protected by such gorgeous eyelashes or stuff like that, but because whenever they looked at me, gently, I could see my reflections there; smiling back at me, and it made me feel so loved.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your nose: sometimes, it brushed my cheek when you were about to bury your face on my neck late in the evening, after a tiring day–and it made me feel so comfortable, knowing that you were near.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your shoulders: not because they are broad or whatever, but because you would bring my head to your left shoulder when we talked, so I could just lie there comfortably and sniff the familiar smell of your perfume. It made me feel so warm—listening to you, having someone to share my fears and dreams with.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your chest: not because it’s wide and muscular, but because when I got sad or angry, you would hug me tight and I would find my face—damped with tears, resting on your chest, sobbing there until your shirt got wet, until I was able to breathe again. It made me feel like… around you, I was allowed to be sad. That it was alright to be sad every once in a while.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your lips: they kissed me silently on the bus when nobody was looking, they voiced some intellectually-stimulating topics we could argue upon, they read the hand-written poems you scribbled for me out loud, they uttered stupid jokes that made me laugh, and they said simple things like thank-you or you’re-amazing; or other sweet things so casually in front of your friends, as if I wasn’t there. It made me feel like the happiest girl on earth.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your hands: when you held mine in yours as we walked, when you brushed my hair or my cheek mindlessly as you typed on your laptop or made a phone call, when you grabbed my waist and lifted me up a few centimeters above the ground as we danced. Those were the times when you made me feel tall.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your feet: not because they are strong and athletic, but because they had walked miles and miles away to find me, and walked towards me again, and again, and again. Those were the times when I felt wanted, when I felt like this time, someone was actually making an effort.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your back: because I had spent so many times staring at it as you slept, grazed my fingers along your spine to convince myself that you were real, and even at the time it turned away from me and disappeared under the drizzle one day as you bade farewell, it left traces of memories from the days I cherished, and it made me feel blessed for once in my life, I had known someone like you.
Ours is a bumpy road. Wait. No. Rewind. To be brutally honest, let me put it this way: mine is a bumpy road. Yes. Mine, and mine alone.
Because one day, “we” disappeared in front of a small alley in a small island, the two characters, W and E, being washed out by the drizzle. Suddenly, everything became discolored. Reasons were no longer exist. Things were losing meanings. Words were breaking into pieces. I lost my sense of being. And it was just like that; as simple as something that disappeared in silence one afternoon under the cloudy sky; just like all things temporary. But that’s the rule of life as we know it: everything will come to its end. It’s just a matter of how, and how long. And maybe, subconsciously, that’s what we’re doing: we’re all just waiting for something to end.
One day, when “we” disappeared, I found myself—and my heart (that had been broken many times but always refused to give up) embracing that familiar pang of sadness: of having to let go. No matter how often you experience such thing, surprisingly, one is never immune to such pain. Of course you know that you’ll be fine again—because your experiences have taught you so (been there, done that)—but still, you find it very tiring to begin again. I will definitely find it very tiring to begin again. And maybe, I won’t. Not now. Not so soon.
I know we love to begin something new (maybe this is the reason why we celebrate New Year with parties and drinks and fireworks and all things cheerful), but most of the times, we forget the art of loving an ending: to appreciate what we have got and what we have lost, to celebrate the memories and the traces of “us” that once were, to romance the things that stayed with us—that sooner or later will become us.
One day, when “we” disappeared, you told me that in the end, all that we’re going to remember is the beautiful things we’ve experienced, the beautiful places we’ve seen, the beautiful memories we’ve shared, the beautiful moments we’ve seized. I told you that it’s true, because one can always find simple happiness in everything—no matter how small; even in an ending.
And so, that one day, when “we” disappeared, I knew that we’d find each other again. When we’re ready. When the time is right. And when the time comes, it’s going to be just me and you—no such thing as “we”—because in the end, I have left something in you and you have left something in me. And even when “we” disappeared, those things we’ve left behind with each other would remain to be a part of us. And isn’t that such a relief? To know that there is something eternal even in the most temporary things, that there is something precious even in the saddest of endings. And such knowledge, to me, is more than enough.
Happy New Year 2013 and Happy Old 2012!
*) inspired by the title of Astrid Reza’s posting, “If Tomorrow We Disappear”.
There were moments when people just took off and left you behind; and you thought they were being unfair and selfish. Other times, it was you who decided to pack your bag and leave, and when they said, please, stay, you thought how annoying and unfair they were for trying to tie you down. And now you realize that maybe people are just afraid. Afraid of being alone, again. Afraid of being forgotten. Afraid of being a history…
And it reminded me of that day when we were about to swim in the pool one afternoon, but it was raining cats and dogs; and so we stood there, at the edge of yes or no, with our swimsuits and towels and flip-flops and all. The sound of the rain was deafening, the water was gleaming under the raindrops, the wind was blowing hard and cold, and so we hesitated for a while but then we exchanged a few if-not-now-then-when glances and nodded and hand in hand we plunged ourselves into the freezing water and we could hear ourselves screaming and laughing and water was splashing everywhere and we just knew that we won’t regret this because it was too effing awesome and we were not afraid to take that first leap of faith.
Sometimes it feels like we are not going to make it. There are too much uncertainties ahead of us (and between us). Sometimes it feels like a sweet dream, and that I will wake up one day, realizing that you are no longer here. That our time is up. Sometimes it feels so temporary, so all-of-a-sudden, it scares me to the bone. Sometimes it feels like we’re hanging on a very thin rope, almost touching—just as close as almost. Sometimes it feels like we are just two lonely souls hovering around the earth and find a clear reflection of ourselves in each other. Sometimes it feels like we’re as distant as stars, as hopes, as wishes, as memories.
Sometimes it feels like we’re meant to be together—not just in the now, but 6 hours later or 10 days later or 8 years later. Sometimes it feels like the world is ours and nothing else matters. Like we understand each other so well we need only to look at each other’s eyes or squeeze each other’s hands or rub each other’s shoulders. Sometimes it feels like we can talk for hours, for days, for weeks, as if we’ll continue to discover new things about the world every day. Sometimes it feels like wanting to slow things down because every moment is way too precious.
Sometimes it feels like I am going to get myself hurt again. Sometimes it feels like I have found what I have been looking for. Sometimes it feels like I will cry again. Sometimes it feels like having the chance to laugh out loud and having fun. Sometimes it feels worrying—like risking my heart to be crushed into pieces again. Sometimes it feels liberating—like not caring about the future because the now is effing awesome. Sometimes it feels like I am going to lose you anytime soon. Sometimes it feels like we’ll be like this for a very long time. Sometimes it feels confusing because I have no idea about what is actually happening. Sometimes it feels relaxing because things just happen naturally, without anyone forcing.
Yes, sometimes it feels like that.
But most of the times, it feels like being thankful.
Like being blessed.
Like being happy.
If there is such thing as “ingredients of love”, maybe mine would look like this: Love is 50% companionship, 35% romance, 10% solitude and 5% of the unknown.
I think love—and all great relationships are about companionship. It’s about watching movies together, cooking meals for dinner, shopping for groceries, deciding on the countries to visit for the next 6-month trip, arguing about which is best: tea or coffee, attacking pastries in a small bakery, driving around listening to the radio and singing stupid songs, laughing on the floor to some random jokes only the two of you understand, stopping for a while on a crowded street to pet a stray cat or dog, cleaning up the mess at the terrace after last night’s rain. It’s about someone with whom you can talk for hours about different things, someone who can be your best friend at all times, who will always be around to support you. Best friends are those who will always become a clear mirror of yourself, showing your true reflection. They are not bound to you, yet they will always be near because they like you and you like them (you can “love” someone you don’t like, though—that’s why some women and men are still involved in abusive relationships). Best friends like you for all your great qualities and embrace your flaws without any terms or conditions. So, when it comes to best friends, no matter how long you haven’t been talking to each other, and no matter how bad your latest argument has been, when there’s something very pressing, you’ll know whom to turn to, whom you can count on, whom you can go home to. So, what I want from love is someone I can grow old with, gracefully, and that the two of us can be best friends to each other, no matter what.
Now romance, why only 35%? Because that’s enough. You know how we always want something that is scarce, but when something is abundant, we tend not to desire it as much? Imagine eating too much chocolate. Or tart. I think romance (including sex) is like a good dessert. The portion is small, thus you’ll always crave for more. It’s not only about the taste, but also the way it is served, the ambience of the restaurant where you have it, and the person with whom you’re sharing it. So, I guess, 35% is enough to spice up things, rock your world, and keep you craving for more.
Then comes 10% of solitude. I think no matter how close a couple is, the healthiest is to keep a certain distance; a space to breathe. It’s about having your own time: you and your thoughts, you and yourself, you and a good book, you and those soccer games, you and your friends. It’s about being alone. It’s about being with someone else. It’s about being apart. It’s about being somewhere far. It’s about balancing things out, to leave something for a while so that you’ll miss it—so that you’ll appreciate it more, so that you’ll want to go back home.
And the last 5% goes to the unknown. I think loving someone is like peeling the layers of an onion; to find out more about your loved ones everyday, and to fall in love more and more and more as you unveil their true self. It’s about discovering new things every steps of the way. Great couple should never think that they know everything about each other. Because there is always something new, something great, something sweet, something fresh, something surprising, something wonderful, waiting for you when you least expected it.
What do you know about sadness? About being left-behind? About seeing those backs, those steps, walking away from you, over and over again, and you found yourself looking at them with your eyes welled up with tears every single time, hoping that they would stop and look back but they never did? And you tried to brace yourself and looked up to prevent those tears from falling, but no matter how hard you tried it didn’t work because it still hurt?
What do you know about opening up and letting your guards down and falling in love and getting hurt? About how it sucks, and about how the fact that you can’t get away from it makes it sucks even more? About not being able to trust anyone ever again because you have been betrayed so many times you can’t even cry anymore? About how you kept thinking that you should have killed the feeling right away?
What do you know about trying? About wanting to believe in something good, something special, something real? About wanting to believe that people actually mean what they say when you keep on hearing lies? What do you know about wanting to believe that some people will actually stay when you are always the one being left behind?
What do you know about disappointment? About thinking that this is the one and that this time it should be different and that this is real and later on knowing that everything is nothing but the same old lies?
What do you know? What do you know about me?
Tentu saja, ada hal-hal yang tidak kukatakan padamu pagi itu, karena. Rasanya terlalu lekas. Sementara aku sedang tidak ingin bergegas-gegas. Ada sesuatu yang lucu dan menggemaskan (juga mencemaskan) dalam menunggu. Tetapi aku suka; menikmati kamu sedikit demi sedikit supaya rasa ini bertahan jauh lebih lama. Aku tahu aku banyak tertawa dan bilang ‘hanya bercanda‘, tetapi. Sebenarnya tidak juga. Tidak sepenuhnya. Katakanlah lima puluh lima puluh. Mungkin saat ini aku mulai bersungguh-sungguh (dan sebenarnya tidak ada tanda titik koma dan kurung tutup atau titik dua dan huruf P di belakang semua perkataanku).
Jadi. Sulit melepasmu (atau kau melepasku, atau sesungguhnya kita saling melepaskan) pagi itu. Sesungguhnya aku sedikit sedih. Dan sedikit kehilangan. Dan sedikit terkejut karena bisa merasakan semua itu. Dan kita berkali-kali mengucapkan ‘selamat tinggal’ tetapi tidak ada di antara kita yang beranjak pergi dan aku menemukan diriku di sisimu lagi, dan kamu di sisiku lagi, dan kita menendang-nendang kaki satu sama lain di bawah meja secara sembunyi-sembunyi, lalu menyelinap ke taman untuk mengucapkan ‘selamat tinggal’, lagi, tetapi. Kita bahkan masih tidak ingin berjarak meski hanya satu senti.
Lalu aku pergi. Kamu pergi. Aku pikir aku akan kehilangan kamu selamanya pagi itu. Aku sudah terbiasa melihat punggung-punggung yang menjauh, tetapi sesering apapun tetap saja masih terasa sedih. Jadi aku tidur saja seharian itu. Karena aku tidak ingin menangis. Rasanya terlalu dramatis. It’s not me. Maka, keesokan harinya, aku sudah siap mengucapkan selamat tinggal (betapa aku benci perpisahan yang dilakukan seorang diri), tetapi.