Today is one of those rare, perfect Cape Town days. Cool, clear sunshine, and no wind. Summer days that are made for day trips to Silvermine, and gin cocktails by the dam.
I am sitting in the corner of the living room, burrowed in amongst pillows and cushions. Next to me, Wilson is having his early afternoon nap. It is the prelude to a hyperactive late night, I’m sure.
But for the most part, time has slowed down. I’m positive of it. Life seems infinitely long without you around. Today is one week down (and at least seven more to go). Despite having all sorts of plans and goals for getting my life routine back on track, all I seem to be able to do is think about you, and us, and the future. I say think, I mean obsess.
Today has been particularly difficult. Lost deep in my missing you, I scrolled through a couple of photos of you on Facebook and I felt an overwhelming sense of detachment and uncertainty. Not in that I feel differently; but that I was faced with how little I actually know about you and your life.
I know that our lives from before we met each other have little to do with where we are going and that knowing who you are as a person should be more than enough. But there is some instinctive part of me – I think it’s the me that spent most of her formative years lost in a cycle of mistrust and chaos, watching people betray each other – that compels me to want to know everything about a person before I offer them any semblance of trust or faith.
In my adult years, this has been the primary contributing factor to my own internal anxiety. It has caused constant disruptions in relationships and friendships. As far as I was concerned, people were messy terrors who given half the chance would ruin you, in reckless messy ways. It didn’t help that my previous relationship enforced and exacerbated this sentiment. Especially since its initiation was predicated on me attempting to re-wire that part of my thinking.
But in its wake, I knew that despite having failed once, I needed to try once more. For better or worse, people deserved a chance right? Or rather, I deserved a chance to escape the inescapable loneliness that comes with keeping everyone you know at an arm’s length.
So I created a new set of rules for myself, and how I would interact with people.
We ask questions as they occur to us. We say things as we think or feel them. We say them honestly with the confidence that the other person will receive them for what they are, and not with personal connotations and triggers. And when we fail miserably at this, which we will because we’re all of us messy terrors, we will say even that. And if we do this, if we could feel this deep comfort then perhaps it wouldn’t matter that we didn’t know every detail about each other.
I resolved to have faith in this system of communication. And with you, it has been particularly easy thus far. You arrived with your own insecurities and uncertainties, and I am forever grateful that you arrived also with a willingness and courage to share them.
But today has tested my resolve in a remarkable way. I felt my instinct to self preserve kick in as I thought on how casually I had embarked on this tremendous journey with you.
I choked back tears as I felt my heartbeat accelerate and my head began to spin. Do I really know anything about the kind of person that you are? Why did you choose to study Nature Conservation? What makes you sad? What makes you angry? When did you fall in love for the first time? What is it like in your head when you’re all alone? Where are you happiest? What draws you to the ocean? If you could change one decision that you’d made in your life, what would you change?
The resulting panic from the lack of answers was hard to contain because, I suppose, this all comes down to one thing: Have I made a good decision about you and us?
You are offering up so much of yourself, and your life, in the pursuit of us. On the list of people that I have disappointed in my life, I hope to never add your name. My penchant for mistrust is deeply embedded in the core of who I am, try as I might to undo it.
So darling, while you’re away, I am learning and unlearning. I am holding onto faith and finding courage.
I keep sending myself back to my closest moments with you; the moments when I felt so confidently that I was safe with you, at home with you.
I promised to take this risk with you. So into the deep, we go.
Wherever you are out there, I hope you are having a better time with this than I am.