M still thought this is how I was born. He is terribly naive. At times I wished he would realise that my cells didn’t decide to man up as they were putting me together. That was my mind, many, many years later.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked me, and I shrugged.
Why not?” I thought. I have been enough of a coward to last me for the rest of my life.
“You are like a beautiful tomboy or something. Raw and real and, at the same time, young, pretty, sensual.”
“M, listen up,” I said, trying not to blush, “there’s only one secret to it all: listen to your heart, or you’re going to be hearing it screaming later.”
He didn’t look convinced. I put on a small smile and kept walking. Ah, you can only love them…
That night I thought of how I could have stopped right there, giving him all the secret access codes and passwords to switching from loneliness to solitude. Take him home, up the spiral staircase where all my paintings are hung, each one in order with their colours progressing like the seasons. Home, where I break the spell with my mind, where I dream hardcore dreams and I’ve got all the world I need at my fingertips. Home, where I amplify myself, where even the way I breathe is different – like flames coming from the mouths of all the dragons I tamed on the way to building myself a home. But I could never take him there.
He would have had to design his own. Mine would be nothing but wood and pretty carpets to him. There are no real secrets either, at least none that applies to two people at the same time.
“I’m afraid of decluttering, forgetting, losing,” they always say.
Just listen to your heart, I say to myself, almost as a reminder that they are wrong. Your heart will never forget the essential. You don’t need to keep the real deal to stay tall, once you’ve had it. Experiences stay in you, you move out of them.
I wanted to say it out loud to M, but it’s hard to tell someone to keep a void inside themselves, so that they can travel light and have space for words of wisdom overheard in crowded bars and images of beautifully made-up sentences remembered from skim-reading. They never listen.
That night, I also asked myself for the first time whether he really loved me or not – but that was a stupid question to ask. I knew he did. Uncertainty would have only meant that he didn’t. When somebody loves you, you don’t find yourself curled up on a couch late at night, questioning his love. Nobody calls you at three in the morning just to tell you they don’t love you anymore, and he used to call me at night quite often. He did love me, of course he did and I longed to be his and began to plot strategies to love him best. But could he love me best? People rarely see past my quietness and he almost unveiled me to bare skin, where I am a volcanic, boyish little girl that no one else but him and I can see. Yet he doesn’t understand it. He can’t understand my nature. He still hasn’t got a clue about who I am at heart. And when I listen to my heart, I am infinite.
But who can listen to other hearts?