Prequel to No Other Remedy
I met my Ex today.
OK, let me be a bit more specific: I met one of my ex-boyfriends again today.
A guy I was seeing exactly 12 years ago.
A guy I was loving when I was 15.
Today, I met Chidi.
It was funny.. weird..
Not the fact that we met, that was arranged, but that it happened now.
I mean, I was just visiting. I had moved ages ago; and since we ended it, we hadn’t been in touch.
I had moved to a different city, a different country, and as I moved away, I simply moved on too.
It was funny.. weird..
Simply because it had been such a long time; since we spoke, saw, touched.
It had been since.. forever..
And yet, it felt just like yesterday.
It was funny.. weird..
Because I just realized now, that I really cared about him.. then.
It took a smile, a hug, a gentle nudge and a kind reminder of the times we shared to awaken those memories again.
But when they came back.. they did so in full force.
We sat down, drinking coffee. He had ordered it, just as he used to.
Then, he thought I was too young for it; but now, at age 27, it seemed just right.
He was always good at remembering details. Much better than me.
I smiled. I’m sure he wondered why.
And as we started reminiscing about the olden days, a shadow of guilt and shame over-came me.
There were tears in his eyes.
I was shocked, startled. I had not expected it.. this.
I was taken aback at his free display of emotions now.
He never used to show any then.
I was shocked at my own words too..
“You were just blind to it” he said.
Me: Blind to what exactly?
Chidi: How much I loved you. You just couldn’t see it.
Me: In all fairness, you never showed much emotion.
Chidi: How can you even say that? Seriously, how can you say that? I showered you with love and affection. I gave you so much attention.
Me: Well, affection and attention.. maybe.. as far as the both of us were concerned. You never showed much outside.
Chidi: Outside? You mean in public?
Me: Well, yes!
Chidi: You were 15.
Me: And so?
Chidi: Come on. You were 15. We were not even supposed to be in a relationship. Do you know what risks I took? Do you know what would have happened had people found out?
Me: Oh please. So you’re trying to say that that was the problem? Give me a break! But it’s all good. See, that’s why we can still sit and talk as friends.. 12 years later.. because I understood even then. I understood what our relationship was all about.
Me: Fun. It was about having fun.. and sex.
Chidi: Sex? For you!
Me: For both of us.
Chidi: Never. I wanted so much more. You never understood how much I loved you.
Me: Come on.. let’s be real. I knew I wasn’t your first choice.. and if you could have had Amanda, you would most definitely not have given me a second thought.
Chidi: Amanda? You know, I went for her at first because I thought there was no way you would say yes. The way you talked, laughed, joked.. with so much confidence. I loved it. But I wasn’t sure of myself.. of how you’d respond. I thought it was safer to talk to your friend first, and then.. perhaps slowly get to know you.
Me (paused): Hmmmm.. if you say so.
Chidi: I wanted so much more. Like, you have no idea..
Me: But don’t lie. You wanted my body too.
Chidi: Of course I did. I wanted as much as I could get.. that included. But more than that, I wanted your heart.
You know, they all used to joke about us. Making fun of me. Saying you bewitched me. My entire life changed. They did not understand but they all agreed..
Me (giggling): Please.. stop the romantic talk.
Chidi: See, you never did let me voice my feelings. Tell you how I feel about you.
Me: How you felt about me, not feel.
Chidi: Feel. Nothing much has changed.
Me: Seriously? How can you even say that.. after 12 years, and a ring on your finger?
Chidi: 12 years changed nothing. They did not change anything at all. Oh, you won’t believe how devastated I was. I was so sure you’d come back. But you didn’t. Not until now. You will never know just how much I’ve missed you.
Me: You know.. it was fairly easy for me to move on. Simply because I believed you had gotten what you wanted.. my body. Had I known you actually cared about me, heaven knows, I would have stayed; but it made no sense. I felt weird, loving a man 12 years older. I found the idea that you could actually love me ludicrous.
Chidi: I loved you. But you didn’t want to see it.
Me: It’s not that I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t.
Chidi: You couldn’t because of him.
Me: Yes, maybe you’re right. I couldn’t because of him.
But he was no longer in the picture and I was ready to love again. I told him that. I don’t know why exactly, but I did anyway- against my better judgement; for I knew how it would make him feel.
He grabbed my hand and held on to it, tightly.
We sat in silence for a few moments. I wondered why he didn’t ask why I had contacted him again, sought out his details after so many years. Wasn’t he surprised, or was he just too pleased to be bothered?
A man now 40 and married; perhaps with kids? I did not ask, he did not tell. And it was good that way. I wasn’t too keen on knowing anyway.
We sat in silence a bit longer. My eyes were closed, remembering days now long gone. Some of the better moments of my life.. in pictures before me. I smiled at him; there were tears in his eyes
A man as beautiful and sweet as ever, seated beside me. A sudden desire overcame me. I longed to touch him, hold him close- just like before. I restrained myself. He’s now married.
But then I kissed him anyway, and I heard myself say,
I still love you.