The other day I was sitting by the small window in the corner of my living room. A seemingly insignificant spot in a new place, candid and clean, yet permanently stained with a premature cocktail of meaning and memory. I was having a cup of bad coffee as I made a list of all the things we still need to buy for the new house. A rug, a new lock for the bathroom, a TV set. I was trying to think of wallpaper for my room, choose a colour and a pattern, something that speaks to me and about me. I’ve always striven to describe myself through my surroundings: every object and stain on the wall must have history and sense and meaning. But that’s not easy to do when you have no idea who the hell you are anymore.
I went from being a person with the strongest sense of self to being… someone else, a stranger to myself, a different man in a new house and a new skin. What had changed in the past six months? Well, things have happened. God, sometimes it feels as if, in my life, things never stop happening, that I can never catch a break. And yes, admittedly, some of these things have left a permanent mark on me, but it would be reductive to assume that such radical inner revolutions are the result of ordinary life events. They’re not.
I probably haven’t changed. I think I am just now realising that I am not who I thought I was. Perhaps all the living and feeling are finally revealing my true colours, the ones I was too blind to recognise in the past.
But how do you come to this realisation? I would say that, of all the life-changing things that have occurred in my life, nothing has been more crucial in this process of self-discovery as love. I am building a new identity through love - the promise of it, the idea of it, the longing for it. It was by loving that I realised that all the pre-conceived ideas I had about myself, based on groundless myths heavily conditioned by my upbringing, my naiveté and my obsession for fictional narratives, were just a fairy-tale I told myself to placate my worries as I helplessly observed my sense of self wear thinner and thinner.
Life was easier before love got in the way. Not a day goes by that I don’t envy the loveless me of last year. An unstoppable force, a hurricane in reverse that created more than it destroyed. An invincible lust for life, a willingness to participate in it, to sow the seeds of expectation and reap the beauty that came from them. That stuff’s still there, I just don’t know what to do with it anymore. I don’t create much, these days, I am just too tired. I spend my time and my energies trying to understand how I can love better, how I can change someone’s life, how I can give them what they wouldn’t be able to get from someone else that isn’t me.
Yes, I was blind with happiness last year, but things are a bit different now. I guess you can’t really keep up such madness, it’s like a year-long acid trip that your body and your heart can’t possibly sustain. That’s why I had to stop. Perhaps, the more you participate in life, the more you consume it, the more you feel compelled to take a step back and find some time for contemplation. I know that if don’t, I’ll end up burning bright and fast, and despite there being a chance that this is indeed the unhappy yet romantic destiny that awaits me, I don’t want that to happen. Not yet, anyway.
Love has changed many things: my appearance, my taste, my sense of morality. There are some things about myself that will never change, but all the rest is up for negotiation. And that’s what love is doing to me. Building a new identity around the things that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) change, helping me achieve my full potential, showing me that there are so many more sides to being human than I could ever have imagined.
Sure, my life without this kind of love would be so much easier. I’d be happier, healthier, richer. But I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t know myself. I would be living yet another lie and God knows I am done with lying. You know at the beginning of a new romance, when all you want is to uncover the mystery of the person sitting in front of you, to know what drives them and what moves them? That’s how I feel about myself now. I don’t know who I’m becoming, I don’t know if I’ll like it, but if there is one thing I know for sure is that I must keep on loving if I ever want to find out.