Let’s talk about brief relationships that didn’t work out, but left an imprint on our hearts.
I don’t mean the 5 or 10 year long relationships, where we got to
know someone deeply.
I mean the people we may have only known for a few months, a couple
weeks, or even just one night – the ones who still hold so much mystery for us because we never got to know their earliest childhood memory, their
craziest travel story, or how they take their coffee (or do they prefer tea?).
We never got to see them rib their siblings at holiday parties, or their look of surprise as they open an unexpected gift, or how serious they get when asked about their political views.
I have so many of these footprints
on my heart.
For many of us, we often meet people at the wrong time and place.
They weren’t ready for someone like us at the moment we came along.
Perhaps they were still recovering from a breakup and couldn’t see us beyond the haze of their ex.
Or they had to endure a disastrous relationship first in order to make them truly appreciate how we are the complete and utterly beautiful opposite of what they thought they wanted, but we met them too soon.
Or maybe a certain chain of events has to
happen for them to see our beauty and uniqueness in a certain light that makes us irresistible to them, but one small misstep altered the course.
Or maybe they live in a foreign country we’re just visiting for a few days, and the distance later becomes their enemy.
We sometimes ache for those people and what could have been – even though it never could have been.
We fall in love with the idea of how it might have gone had the circumstances been tweaked a bit, had they gotten
to know just a few more details about us.
We kick ourselves for not saying just the right thing to sway their hearts towards us.
We sometimes even create a person in our minds who doesn’t actually exist, as our mind tries to fill in the gaps of the
story they started to write for us.
We aren’t angry with these people.
They didn’t do anything hurtful.
We’re glad we met them.
We just met them at the wrong
And we can’t help but imagine another time and place where this could have had a chance.
Like she,who had impressed me with her bottomless knowledge of the city I was visiting, the city she called her home.
We had similar life experiences and shared them over drinks at a packed rooftop bar in a tropical city full of colour,
sweat, and desire.
We danced for what felt like hours.
I loved her eyes, hair, and smile.
I taught her a few new Kikuyu words and phrases that I hope she’ll associate me with next time she uses
them (skinny-dipping, linger, soundly).
She told me I was lovely to be with countless times, and promised me
we’d meet again one day.
Afterwards, I imagine her being a few years older to match her deep intellect with politics and history, her fluency in five languages, and her responsibility to her family after losing a parent.
I imagine her following through on a briefly mentioned desire to apply to a prestigious post- graduate school in my city.
I imagine her moving here from 2,200 miles away, and helping me learn French
while I show her all the marvels of my homeland that she has never visited.
And then I feel crazy because it was just one night. A little less than 24 hours total before I had to fly home, back to reality.
But there was a connection made in that time.
Sometimes that’s all it takes for people who are already on the same wavelength.
Or sometimes it’s all in our heads, and the other person has no idea of the part they play in this fantasy world we’ve created.
We will probably never see each other again, probably never talk again.
It meant something different to both of us.
But for me, at least now I know that she’s in this world with me.
I’m now richer for it.
And that will have to be enough,though I still hope to hold her in my arms again before I die.