When it comes to love, I always follow one rule: kill it before it dies. Pull the plug, fire the gun, serve the final blow. Until recently, I had a very singular (if a bit narrow) vision of the future: as a rigid, endless, long-term concept – a circle, not a line. Future to me meant eternity, the closest thing to forever that our mortal nature allows. And that’s why I never cared for fixed-term love - I just didn’t understand it.
Writing this down just makes me realise the absurdity of the self-imposed rule I have lived by for so long. I think about it rationally and wonder how out of touch with reality I must have been to truly believe that the only choice I ever had was between always and never, how crazy I was to think that the in-between is nothing but a bridge you cross frantically to get from one end to the other, without ever stopping to contemplate the view from the middle.
I used to dress my lovers with layers of hope and potential. I tried them on like shoes, to see if they’d fit. I would throw them in the ring for the hell of it, curious to see if they’d survive. I waited to see if they could function in my world, hoping they’d turn out to be a flesh and bone replica of the unshakable archetype I had in my head.
I didn’t know then, that you build your life around people, and not the other way around. That you don’t know what you want until someone shows it to you. That measuring the worth of a person against some unachievable ideal that only exists in a mind under the influence of toxic ideas of romance will only set you up for failure and disappointment. The end of hope, no matter how small and insignificant, always comes at a price. Even when I’m the one to pull the trigger, mine is always the only name on the casualty list.
In the past, upon the realisation that there would be no-long term future, I arbitrarily chose to interrupt temporary moments of happiness just because I knew that those moments would inevitably stop coming. But I try to play it differently, these days. I have met some extraordinary people, some of whom I’ve had to leave behind, but I feel no sadness or regret for what could have been, for my time with them has been a structureless collection of moments of perfection.
I am a self-professed lover of beautiful things. I let them fill me and sustain me without complications or thoughts of a future where this specific kind of beauty will no longer be available. I try to do the same with people, now. I strive to revel in the joy of the present, trying to limit my obsession over a before that is irrelevant and an after that is never guaranteed.
I was sitting on the balcony of my old flat yesterday after a day of packing. I lay there, covered in the blue light of a late-summer night, when the days don’t end and the sun takes its sweet time. I looked at the canal, the big park, the ugly metal sculpture in the distance. I thought about the people who live on the boats and brush their teeth in the river, comfortable with a life that’s always changing and moving beneath their feet. I focused on that familiar landscape and finally accepted that I will never see it again from that specific angle. And I felt sad, but also strangely at peace with myself. I have lived everything there was to live in that house. I have taken everything it offered me. And I am so glad I did, I am so happy that the thought that I would one day lose it never stopped me from making it a home, hanging paintings on the wall, putting up new wallpaper, getting flowers for all my rooms, filling it with the beautiful smell of freshly baked bread.
For a long time, that house was the only receiver of my love; I gave it all and I took everything I could in return. It’s over now, and I am filling the holes in the walls as I try to fit a thousand days in a dozen black bags. I am leaving, now, it’s not my home anymore. But every crack on the wall, every scratch on the wooden floor, every stain tells a chapter of my story. It’s proof that I was there. A testament to the love that filled those four walls. I look at it this way, and it all makes sense.
To the lovers of the moment, I say: I may not be your home but let me be the immortal flaw, a crack in your wall, a souvenir from the short journey we shared and the affection I unselfishly gave you. Wear me like a badge of honour, irrefutable proof that I was there with you at that time. That’s the closest to forever we may ever get.
The truth is, I don’t want to kill it before it dies. I want to kill it before it kills me. I am terrified of the moment it will all become too much, and the repeated feeling of loss will become unbearable. But it doesn’t really matter what I tell myself because I know that, in the end, I will always keep on flirting with the possibility of devastation if that’s the only way to get yet another segment of perfection.