Remember those walls I built? Well, Baby, they’re tumbling down. And they didn’t even put up a fight.
You often ask me, “Why me?” I do not tense and catch my breath like I used to when I knew why you were asking. In the months, the years when I could not stand going into Nandos on Thursday night or Saturday night before we could go home, and they would come to our table to greet me, you wondering if I knew everyone. And the Saturday she came in with her friends; and you saw who I had left to be with you. You could not believe there was nothing anymore there from the look in their eyes or the strained three minute conversation she had at our table, “Why did she keep looking at you when they were at the counter?”
You could not believe I had not noticed until you pointed it out after and I knew. Or that it never mattered to me at all. That I did not care at all. Your pride insisting we carry the early Edition newspapers she had ordered for our table as they had gone out because, “She knows how much you like reading newspapers, maybe there’s a note in there for you, take them!” The question from then on not to be lightly brushed away, that terrible night a searing monument to how tears can soak a pillow, it was the first night I saw you fail to sleep, the first time you wondered at the life I had lived before we met like I had wondered about yours all along.
But this don’t even feel like falling…
I could not tell you that night was also one of the most wonderful nights I ever had, you having no idea how high is the bar for me to have a wonderful night or the places I have had them in. For you that all that night was were the tears, my sullen refusal to be baited, the first time I saw you throw my music CDs at me, and I saw hate in you for the first time and the depths it could plumb from love turned, if I ever failed you. I did not see that night like that though, and your pain never gave me the chance to tell you.
Tell you that it was the first night I knew you loved me, and I did not need you to tell me, I knew. It was the first night when I did not in the night have to seek comfort and a lifeline to the dawn mixtaping on that old desktop to amuse myself until my temples were throbbing. And every word we said, I could feel, drop like a stone let go by a dreaming child, down the darkness of a well to plop into the waters of our revelry. The first night together watching daylight coming, staring at the curtain edges, I was not half mumbling to myself lines of Philip Larkin’s Aubade or trying to register on the cornea of my mind, the morning sky, smiling when you asked, “Is this what you see every morning? It’s beautiful.” I almost told you of my morning slip-outs to walk in the grass by the lake, the chilly silver dew jangling on the veins of my striding bare feet.
I Found a Way to Let You In. But I never really had a Doubt.
So caught in these fancies I could not talk about, you complained that it was no use putting the socks I was to wear on the bed because I would move them, forget where I had placed them, and then accuse you of having moved them. It was the first night of the many to come when I was the one who wanted to drink from your cup when we got thirsty and you were asking why I had not brought myself any water from the sitting room. Talking till morning, in the halo of your love, finding a way to let you in, not because tear-stained, you were begging for entry. In amazement I realizing that nothing hurt me more than knowing you were hurting and wanting to stop it immediately, letting you in, into places I had never let anyone, the squeals of your delight my reward, hearing for the first time on some wing the voices of the children you will bring me. Lifetime stances dropping away in heartbeats holding you. The recklessness of those confidences ensuring that your safety would always be my first priority, and no girl would ever charm me like the dimple on you charmed me. Still does. So I find myself thinking of you all the time, in moments when I least expect it, sometimes bored to near yawning, waiting for it all to be over and be there with you again. The insularity of you and I. When those walls came up again, you were inside and you are all I need, will ever, and I started to build again and everything was about you. Still is.
It’s like I’ve been awakened. Every rule I had you breaking….
Taking you through blasted landscapes where we could find blooming cauliflowers, before my Prospero wand went missing, I brought the festivals in my heart to where you were. Pantomiming old dance moves, unfolding before your rapt glacial gaze an Iranian brocade of my life before us. Learning the story of each scar on you, exchanging birthmarks, beginning rituals, feeding your chocolate hunger, in the hangovers of each other with kisses that remade rooms we had forgotten we were ever in.
Say Strawberry and I still catch my breath like I still do when I hear your voice on the phone. This Enigma Yardley perfume is you for me. Cotton white tee-shirts, girls in black hot pants, you were surprised I remember what I first saw you in--- or that I got that hard backed armchair you used to wait for me in, late as usual, coming to see you. Offering to walk with me to Nommo Gallery from Makerere University in the evening, “Why should I be afraid when I’m with you?” I could not bear to be in your hostel room because to leave it would be to leave you in there, worship with an upward glance whenever I would be walking past that hostel; it was the little bits of you that got to me.
But that was far from enough. So I had tossed aside the duvet, sat up and said, “Let me tell you.”
On permanent replay: Halo by Beyonce Knowles