365 is a lot of numbers for a child learning to count, but ₦365 is not enough to get a KFC value pack. 365 days also make up a year and a lot can happen in a year. Life is really short because I can remember every detail of last year’s Valentine’s Day like it was yesterday, and that’s where my countdown begins. In one year, I’ve loved, I’ve hurt, and most importantly, I’ve seen three movies that can sum up my past year’s experience – Friends With Benefits, He’s Not That Into You, and That Awkward Moment.
From tracking secret admirers to chasing non-existent crushes to having pity sex. Adventure just never leaves me in peace. I’m pathetically a drunk-in-love victim, and this is my 2015 Valentine story.
I wasn’t seeking love. I think it just found me. It was nothing as exciting as perhaps in a divorce court, with a clean-shaven business mogul hoping to take custody of his kids, no. Love found me where it finds almost everyone else of this generation – on the Web. Believe me, there are greater chances of finding your worst nightmare on there.
Focused on getting my social media sensation and brand marketing going, I wasn’t sure if a proper relationship was going to be supportive or obstructive. I just knew I wanted a thing, with a man I would be attracted to physically, first. Ever heard the saying that during a first conversation between a man and a woman, the woman already knows where she wants to place the man in her life? Well, I might just be that kind of woman.
There was this one man who kept getting really interesting. He had this sophistication attached to his social media presence, and it was outrightly endearing. He was smart and had the looks. I studied him for a while before deciding to go in for the kill. We got acquainted faster than I had envisioned, and before I knew it, the benefits of this friend-lationship became a daily affair. There was always the chance that I would wontedly get bored of the ‘thing’ we had going on, but surprisingly, I didn’t. He managed somehow to keep me longing for his presence and manly musk. He had good qualities, qualities of a man I would likely date. I’m talking about qualities like knowing how to take your denim pants off gently from the hem, not yanking violently from the waist; and swaying with you to your favourite song when he needed you to feel better. These qualities didn’t automatically make anyone right for me, but the fact that he made an effort to make me feel comfortable even when we were just ‘hooking up’ was very emotionally seductive.
However, the thought that I was nursing emotions for the ‘hookup dude’ didn’t sit well with me. But then, I thought: There was no rule that said that I should not fall in love with a friend who was…well, supportive in many ways. I remember hurriedly drowning the thought with a shot of tequila.
Several days passed and the levitating background emotions brought the tension with them. The intimacy changed from that very moment and felt more like a ritual. We weren’t physical entities practicing something spiritual, we felt like spiritual beings bonding through some physical exercise. I started reminiscing of being taken in arms and stealing French kisses in the dark with this heart-robber. I fell for him. There were no brakes. Gravity was in its finest moment. And then came wreaking its havoc, the curse of being in love – the insecurities, the jealousy, the overwhelming urge to possess him who you love.
I should mention that I grew up with brothers, good guys who met good girls and wasted no time to commit. And like a child from a candy store, all smiles and simpers, I saw all men in that light. I couldn’t understand when this man I loved claimed that he was in a place where he couldn’t afford to handle ‘anything serious’. Like, seriously?!
I’m fun. I come with sunshine and rainbows. I could make ‘serious’ look like the best thing that ever happened to him. If he would just…
Of course I couldn’t complete the thought. I didn’t say all the things I wanted to say. Instead, I told him I was cool with what he wanted. I lied. And that was the beginning of my insanity. I became dissipated by my tortured rumination: Should I have told him I was in love already? Should I mention that I could not let go? Should I reveal that I was starting to want him more than life itself? Was I allowed to rescind my acquiescence of what he wanted? Or was my silence and acceptance of the situation ruining everything?
My emotions roiled inside me like the turbulent waves of a coming sea-storm. I would open my laptop every night, rant and blame myself over and over in countless mails I’d end up saving as drafts. My private moments were evidenced in the crumpled tissues that swelled in the bin. I withdrew from him.
I tried to heal.
I had to heal.
I stayed away from him until I experienced the awakening, you know, that moment of illumination. I understood that sometimes one needs freedom to be able to stay emotionally attached to loved ones. I actually had to repeat that a million times to myself to convince myself that it is true. I found myself enjoying the good memories of the times we spent together. I tried moving on a couple of times by honouring date invitations from other men. But the universe must be on his side, because those dates never worked out.
These days, I wish for a lot of things. I wish I’d had a tighter rein over my heart. I wish I’d known how to want the things he wanted, the way he wanted them. I wish I’d handled my devastation at his, well, rejection better. I wish my withdrawal from him hadn’t caused him this much hurt that made him drift away from me. I wish I had my friend back. I still struggle with the thought of him not being that into me. I wish for so many things, and chief among them is not to be alone on a love-filled Saturday like this, where lovers love and red is a beautiful colour.
Friends With Benefits… He’s Not That Into You… That Awkward Moment… Ironically, I saw them all this past year. And I wish I’d seen them earlier. I would have better appreciated the déjà vu moments of someone’s movie turning out to be my reality.
Written by Yvonne Alozie, @grey_adanna