Remember that wedding in July, the one where Seyi got married to Wande? Maybe it’s crazy but that moment’s forever etched in my mind. Maybe it’s because it’s the first one I’ve ever been deeply involved in – I was one of his groomsmen. Maybe it’s because of what I saw that day when the couple took their vows.

I was seated in front with the other guys when this happened. It was really beautiful watching Seyi and Wande take those vows but I wasn’t really looking at them. I saw you instead, in that resplendent white gown, looking into my eyes with nothing else but pure affection in your eyes as I vowed to love, hold, cherish and protect you for the rest of my life.

I saw our wedding that day.

So what happened? Just two more years down the line and we’re in pieces – with the shards set to cause more damage at any attempt to put them back together again – like two people in a Humpty Dumpty relationship. I was a fool and you were just plain silly at times.

You wanted me to talk more. I do talk, but I’d carved a cave where I stuck my innermost feelings, passions, fears and hopes into. That’s the part of me that you wanted to see the most and you did try. I’ll give you that; you badgered, pleaded and coaxed me to let it out. I’d almost get to that point where I finally let you in but then you tune off and disappear and the hurt of finding you at that crucial point and not meeting you waiting where you said you would made me recede even further.

So I would express myself the best way I could, by imagining how things should be – just as I imagined myself making those vows. We’d have a lot of conversations, half of them in my head but they’d seem so real that I would wonder why you still didn’t get me. To me, you should know why I’m the way I am. Why I act the way I do. Why I only keep real conversations at the simplest, most mundane level. I thought I told you so you should know. But you didn’t know; you couldn’t have known because half of what I told you about how I am was all stuck in my head.

I should have been gentler with you, more patient. I shouldn’t have treated you like you should automatically get me – like some sort of robot that I act like. You’re human, I am too but it beats me why I don’t act like one. Why I’m rarely excited or enthusiastic about anything. Like I’d been here before and seen it all so I’m bored with the world and the people in it. But I’m interested…sometimes; I just don’t know why my emotions on the inside don’t translate to my expressions on the outside…sometimes. You almost get me to the point where these two become one but you’d give up right at the most crucial moment and I’d fall back.

You would reach for me before I fall and I would reach for you just as I fell to grasp your nothing. No hands, no straws. So I got used to falling, deeper into my shell.

I could blame you for this but if there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s a keen sense of perspective. So I could say you were lazy, not so committed or just playing games with my heart but I’m a difficult person to love as well. I’ve got no problems loving, I like imagining being loved but the thought of it happening in reality, seeing pure love radiate through someone to me scares the living shit out of me. If I’d be nice to myself I’ll just say that I’m not meant to be loved. But I’m not so nice to myself either. Put simply, I’m insufferable as fuck.

So when you told me you cheated, I was broken. I fell apart like the contents of a toppled hourglass but as hard as it was for me, I was hopeful. I felt that the fault was meant to be a shared burden. Maybe it was at this nadir that we could have finally gotten everything back on track. So I wanted to know what the problem was. Was it me? Was I not as attentive, caring or passionate as you would have liked? I probably wasn’t. Was it my inability to be really there for you? It was probably because of me. So I felt that the solution was in the knowing. To you, the weight and shame of the initial confession was more than what you could bear. Still I wanted to know, for my sake and sanity. For our sakes.

And this has always been my problem. You’ll give a little taste and I’d always want more of what you’re reluctant to offer. You still expected me to chase even when it was obvious you (and I) were going nowhere. I on the other hand expected you to keep up with me. Whatever it was, I don’t know.  In the end, we’d run off in different directions without realising the chasm we were creating would be too wide to bridge. And now that we’re done running, we’re too spent to find our way back together.

I’m not a bad person, you know this. But I’m kinda messed up. I hurt people – I don’t agree but they say I do. I wonder how. They’ll read different meanings to my intentions or motivations for leaving people alone. I think people are confused: they want to be with you and they want to be alone as well. I have this problem but my awareness of the fact is already half the solution. People always leave dear. So I wondered why you didn’t even after all this. But it’s not that hard to figure out. I say to myself that I’m done with you every time. Then I see you and just want the shared moment at that time to linger forever.

People always leave and I let them. Why you’re still in this messed up relationship, I don’t know. I don’t love you any less and I even think I’m undeserving of you. But then, it’s never okay knowing just half the story – that’s torture. Completing it is my way back to you and as much as I want to, I can’t jump that far. I’ve got to retrace this bit by bit and this tip of the iceberg that you’ve given me isn’t enough. In fact, I believe it’s sinking our Titanic. And this is why I’m doing what I’ve never done before.

I’m leaving you.

I don’t wanna hurt forever
I don’t wanna keep on feeling
I just wanna say what we both know
I’m letting you let go…

Letting You Let Go – Paper Route

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They always flood his consciousness at times like this; rare moments when the loneliness really gets to him. He enjoys loneliness – he cherishes it. He’s far too comfortable in his own company. Maybe it’s a problem but he’s eternally grateful to have such a problem. His loneliness is a door he shuts against the world. However, in moments like this, the loneliness becomes an open door – unused. He didn’t fight it this time around; he just let the memories flow. They never come in the same order but they’re all too familiar for him to miss a thing.

Of them all, Nike appeared to be the one that hurt him most. “Don’t call me again,” she said. He did. She never picked. It wasn’t that he expected what they had to last – he knew it was a disaster waiting to happen. It sure did. What hurt the most was not knowing why or what he did to make it all go south. For someone who thrived on figuring everything out, this didn’t make any sense. Was she tired of him? Did he screw up somehow? But she still visited three days ago and they left on good terms, after she succeeded in waking him up by smothering him with kisses. No it was something else. But what? Maybe he’ll never know. He hated not knowing.

Mary’s case was comical. He wasn’t in the mood to laugh now but he did, almost spilling the vodka he’d mixed with soda – to keep the evening chill away. He was in his second year then. She was in her first year in another school. Girls had come and he’d acted like a complete idiot just so they’d leave him the hell alone. He didn’t want anyone coming between him and her. Sure, they fought but they always sorted their issues out. So when he felt at a point in time that something wasn’t right, he called her. She said she didn’t feel a relationship existed anymore – she was done. He asked if she was sure. Yes. It was February 13. The next day, his cousins’ girlfriends arrived and the Valentines Day shenanigans almost made him puke. Bags packed with books and a few movies he hadn’t seen, he went off to Biodun’s house. Exams were a week away and he’d die first before failing his papers because of a girl.

Four years later, he met her again. He’d graduated. She’s single. His Facebook status said “it’s complicated”. She blamed him for not calling back after the break up. She was bluffing when she said they were done. He said he thought her mind was made up. She said his pride stopped him from calling back. To him, it’s simple logic; you don’t say you’re done when you’re not. This was what was amusing; she broke up over nothing.

Dale was a curious case though. Free spirited, he thought she was just perfect. He wanted something real, serious. She felt they should remain friends. He wasn’t content but he’d take the consolation prize – for now. He was good at breaking out of the ‘zone’. Her boyfriend saw him as a threat. He was right. She eventually broke up with the dude because of him. She didn’t know that he knew but he did. Schadenfreude. They remained friends. They had their first kiss in the kitchen and it lingered till the burning rice told them to give it a rest. Still friends. She said they were too close to date but she’d get jealous when other girls were around him. Months later, they kissed again; one that didn’t stop till they were a tangled, perspiring, naked heap minutes later. Friends or lovers? They still had no idea.

So it was only natural that the fire fizzled out. He didn’t want it to, she didn’t either but it just turned out that he took her more seriously than she took him. At least that’s what he thought till she told him years later that she thought all he wanted was to roam free. He’d never roamed free; he actually hated it. As much as he valued his freedom and privacy, all he needed was an anchor to keep him grounded. He thought he’d found it but he was wrong – again. He’ll have to keep searching.

Then he met Dorcas. The first girl he met that could go toe to toe with him, in almost all things. She was just as stubborn as he was, and just as gentle. She could be smiling now and tell him to sod off in a moment. She challenged him and he loved it. Their first year was a battle, of wits and of will – never mind the fact that they wound up in bed within a month of knowing each other. After that, he thought she was his. She made him see different. For the next three months she didn’t speak to him – not a word. Whenever they crossed paths, she didn’t as much as give him an acknowledging nod. He thought he was the king of the silent treatment until that moment. He was going crazy. She was enjoying the thrill of watching him do so.

The next two years were the best he’d ever had in a relationship. She found Jesus within that period and decided from then on to save herself for marriage. She didn’t know but her decision will even help him become better because that’s the one thing that kept him on the wrong side of God. He didn’t care as long as she was with him. He’d even use her pillow whenever she was away just so he’d smell her perfume – It helped him miss her less.

There was however an elephant in the room. She wanted him to commit and make things ‘official’. No it wasn’t marriage. Not yet. She just wanted him to ask her out properly. He never did. A lot of water had passed under the bridge and he thought she knew him well enough to know he was committed to her. “Why ask her out when we’d gone through all we did? Why would she think I was just for sex – we’ve only ever had a tumble in the sack just three times in three years? A man does one of two things after sex, he stays or he goes after the next score. I stayed for three years even though I was rarely getting any. What more does she want?” He thought. In his logic, he underestimated a woman’s attachment to words and their affirming nature. He was never really given to too many words and that proved to be his undoing. He paid the price of his stubbornness by losing her.

He thought he was done but he met Lola. Young, naïve, optimistic and a hopeless romantic, she fit his description of ‘mummy’s girl’ perfectly. He naturally ran away from her type; choosing not to let his cynical nature shatter her rose-tinted glasses. He ran, she chased. He realized too late that she was way into him and he wondered what he did to get her so whipped. In no time, she got to his friends and they started doing the wooing for her. “You don’t know her kind,” he said. “They lose interest just as quick as they fall for you.”

This time around, he was right. Cynicism pays off sometimes. They had a fantastic start, and it was a breeze. Then the lull came and he was now doing the chasing. He chased, she ran. It would be better to even say she didn’t run, but that he was chasing shadows instead. It sucked. He couldn’t get through to her and he felt like a crashing pilot screaming mayday and getting static as feedback. And just when he was giving up, she’d show up. He gave her another chance but she sucker punched him again.

Strike two. He knew very little baseball but he’ll be damned if he let her have three strikes. He’ll keep searching for his home run instead…

PS: Looked through the relationship tales of my friends – real stories – and decided to make a just one story out of it. It’s never pretty when a relationship ends; and it doesn’t matter if it’s a clear cut case of cheating or those that don’t just work out, or even those with so many grey areas where no one’s right and no one’s wrong. But we keep trying to get it right no matter how many times we get shot down. Some even take a sabbatical from love (I’ve done that, it helps). Some just shut the door permanently – till they meet someone who cares enough to pry it open (Done that too with little luck).

Most importantly, this is about those dudes who aren’t really jerks. The guys who make mistakes now and then when all they’re looking for is the peace of home but haven’t yet found the key. You’ll find it. You might need to be a little less stubborn and think about her too. It’s not all about you bro. Keep calm.

And girls, not all guys are douche-bags. I heard someone say that most girls wouldn’t think twice before saying all men are dogs, forgetting that dogs are one of the most loyal animals out there. Take him for walks, feed him now and then, pat his head. He’ll sit.

PS 2: I threw my story in there too. Good luck finding it (I fear those who know me well enough will 🙂 ).