I felt at ease with Stephen.
This was strange to me given the fact that we didn’t know each other very well. When you factor in the reality that we’d only hung out less than 10 times in the past 2 years, it just didn’t seem logical to feel this way.
I couldn’t understand what it was about him that made me feel the way I did. It was a level of comfort that I’d never experienced with anyone else before — not with family or friends or imaginary relationships with celebrities — no one.
To make matters even more confusing, my inability to articulate these feelings convinced me to believe that I’d lost control of my conscious as these feelings are impossible to have.
But there I was. Feeling it.
(cue Blink 182’s ‘Feeling This’.)
Each time after I saw him, I smiled as though I’d won the lottery. The amount of effort I put into looking less of a mess when I went out with him was admirable by my standards — even my mother became curious.
“So, do you like him?”
“I don’t know, I don’t know him very well,”
“But there’s something different about your smile when you talk about him,”
“Stop smoking pot, ma,”
“Don’t swim in DeNile for too long, Rathi.”
I wasn’t finding excuses to text him. I wasn’t jealous when his friends told me he had been going out with other people. Most importantly, and the weirdest fact of them all, I didn’t feel like fighting for his attention.
Sure, I would have liked it if I could see him more than once every 6 months, but I didn’t feel like I needed to obsess over him — and that confused the fuck out of me.
I usually wanted the guys I liked to be around often.
I felt acutely insecure when I saw photos of them with other girls — don’t even get me started on the unhealthy amount of stalking I did — but these things didn’t exist with Stephen.
So, was he just a friend?
It sure didn’t feel like it.
When I attempted to explain it to friends, they dismissed it. One of them said, “That’s what you say about every guy you’re infatuated by — and you fall for guys super quickly,”
Maybe they were right, I thought. I was a serial crusher, after all — I mean I like a new guy every couple of months or so kind of serial.
So, I packed the unresolved questions into a box, sealed it, and stored it as far away from my conscious mind as I could possibly do.
It had been 6 months since I heard from Stephen.
There were times I wanted to text him but I thought a “Hey! How’ve you been?” message would’ve inconvenienced him. It was also easy to move past it because I was seeing someone else.
This guy, let’s call him Pravin, was exceptionally witty, we had plenty of banters. (Note: my doors are always opened for anyone that can make me laugh.) However, there were a few red flags.
There were rumors of him being in a relationship, which meant I could have been the side chick without knowing. This only made me hold my guard up that much more. I liked him, though, and with everything that we like, we want it to work out.
“If you are going out with someone else, I’d really appreciate it if you told me, ‘cos I don’t want to be strung along for a ride I clearly did not sign up for,”
“Okay, some of these rumors are true…I do like you, a lot actually, but I am in a relationship with someone else — it’s not working out though, like, I want to be with you, so, maybe you could wait a while?”
I thanked him for being honest and we’ve never spoken since.
Why do people enjoy playing with feelings — feelings that aren’t theirs to mess around with in the first place?
Do they not value the feelings of others? It feels as though the energy that’s needed to be used for a person to be honest is of an exuberant amount that we’d rather hurt someone else than tell them how we truly feel.
Why is it difficult to be honest?
The conversation above took place late at night, so, there was no way I could go to either one of my happy places since everything had been closed. I fought back the tears during my cab ride home; I closed my eyes and tried to pace myself mentally but instead of dreaming of roaming around Kinokuniya or having breakfast in Bangsar, I thought of Stephen.
I couldn’t hold back the tears at this point.
It’s been a while hasn’t it? I promise the next one will come soon. I hope you have been well and that you enjoyed this chapter. And yeah, the title is a reference to an Avril Lavigne song — open your eyes, open up wide.