I almost spilled my drink on myself when Hannah walked into the room. Hannah??!
Or were my eyes deceiving me?
Hannah was my ex.
It has been many years since she woke up that morning to call for a breakup. Four years to be precise.
Yet it felt like four days. Seeing her right now at the dinner party I attended with my colleagues, all my old feelings of betrayal and hurt rushed me like bees.
Then came the shocking realization that I was still in love with her. I reeled back. After how many years? Despite all she's done?
I wanted not to love her. I wanted her to see that I had done well for myself over the years since she's left. I wanted badly to walk up to her and accuse her of deliberately cutting short what we had without any explanation or reason whatsoever.
Hannah never explained why she called me up suddenly by Friday afternoon to tell me she wanted out. A relationship of almost three years.
I was thinking of proposing to her. We had it good together or so I thought.
How does someone who claim to love you just wake up one day to decide that she's no longer interested again?
Seeing her here right now arose all sorts of conflicting emotions in me.
One moment, I wanted to walk up to her and demand an explanation that I felt she owed me. In another vein, all I wanted was to grab her close to me in a hug as if that would bridge the distance that four years has cost. I also wanted to see how much of a distance we had both allowed.
"Hello Hannah" I said as I walked up to her and faced her directly.
"David.." she whispered, shock and tears gathering in her eyes.
"I... I .... I" she tried unsuccessfully but couldn't get any words out.
I helped her out. "You're pleased to see me?"
She nodded gratefully, her eyes pleading forgiveness but I steeled my mind and deliberately kept a cold look on my face.
"Can we talk?" I asked, head lifted in the direction of the door. "Outside?"
I didn't even wait for a reply. I guided her elbow outside the large room of curious faces staring at us while my head buzzed with a million questions I was dying to ask her.
"Why?" I jumped in immediately we got to a secluded corner outside where we both sat.
She knew what I meant but tried to hedge a bit. "Why what David, is this how you treat an old friend?" she attempted to joke weakly.
"Don't even try to do that Hannah, you know if there's certainly anything I hate the most, it is going through corners. Now I ask again, why?"
The tears that were gathering in her eyes promptly spilled and I saw raw pain. "David, I swear I never meant to hurt you.." Something tightened in my chest, I wanted to reach out to her and hug her pain away just like the old times but I restrained myself, I needed to hear the truth.
"That morning.." She began
* * * *
That night, Hannah and I talked for a very long time. She told me about the circumstances that led her to calling for a breakup that morning. She told me about the moments during the four years that she weakened and almost reached out to me. She would have, but she discovered that she had somehow lost my number. Apart from the initial tears of orchestrating the breakup, she cried anew for what she lost everyday and she said not a day passed that she didn't regret her hasty decision that morning.
As expected, she apologized profusely for causing me pain. "I felt we were no longer communicating again, I tried several times to reach out to you, but you were always either busy or just stressed about your job and you shut me out."
I felt guilty at that statement, I knew I had a part to play somehow. During that period, I'd been so overwhelmed by so many office demands and personal problems that I let our communication suffer, I felt she would understand. I also didn't want to talk about them because I figured they would resolve themselves sooner or later. It's no wonder Hannah felt left out.
That night we both cried afresh for what we lost all these years due to miscommunication. We apologized to ourselves over and over. Anyone who had walked in on us at that moment would have wondered what would make two grown adults weep so much. I held Hannah close to my heart so she could feel my heartbeat. "This heart has never stopped beating for you..." I whispered as I kissed her forehead " and it will never stop."
* * *
Of course, I know that when you've been away from someone for four years, a lot would have happened. Four years is enough for you to pick up new habits, lose old ones but I never imagined the extent to which it would change Hannah or me.
While Hannah and I were still together, I loved it when we went out together. We often showed up at events organized by friends in matching outfits and we were often the focus of everyone at such events from the beginning till the end. We were so open with our personal lives and lots of people loved to be associated with us, you know the "God wheners" lol.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm not against talking about your relationship or being open about the person you are dating but it never did work for us. Hannah and I were both public beings, popular individuals even without our relationship and so being in a relationship threw more publicity our way. Now our problem isn't the publicity itself but how we handled it. Because of the public attention, so many stories around us both often circulated, me doing this, Hannah caught doing that. It wouldn't have affected us if we were both in constant communication, but I grew busy and distant while Hannah began to feel insecure.
This time, a part of me craved secrecy like a drug. I felt no need to publicise what we had anymore. In fact, just very few close friends knew we were back together and I was prepared to be this way even after we get married.
I resolved to start afresh this time. It was like getting to know her all over again. Some parts of her felt intimately familiar, other parts she would just randomly show and I would wonder where she picked up the habit from.
The weirdest of all was yesterday when I caught her for the twentieth time that week chewing her lower lips. "Guyy" i said in between laughs " if you continue this way, you'll have nothing left but teeth and cheeks. We both burst into laughter at my remark. "I just do this when I'm nervous" she replied . " I can't even remember where I picked it up from."
I looked at Hannah intently and it hit me like a Force to my chest that I'm so in love with her. It was like I was rediscovering it newly for myself and the feeling scared and humbled me at the same time. The realization that I had a woman by my side who had the power to hurt me emotionally more than anyone. I tried so hard not to invest so much of me when we came back together again, it there's something staying apart all these years taught me, it is to master my emotions. Though I was careful not to make her feel distant from me, still I failed woefully at it.
My greatest discomfort came when a friend did something which hurt me deeply. It was at that moment Hannah's call came in like she sensed I wasn't all right. My first instinct was to sound alright and deflect her concerns with a light joke. I knew she wouldn't push but I felt it would be unfair knowing this was the same line I toed that caused our break up. So I told her. It was uncomfortable, baring so much or myself and my emotions and that moment but talking to her made me feel more better.
At that moment, I asked myself if it wasn't her then who?
In between our coming back together, it's being a tentative journey after the next. Both of us careful not to repeat old mistakes and having to unlearn all we knew about each other before and relearn again.
It's been bittersweet. It's like I'm wooing her all over again and the feeling it arouses in me is one of excitement. I get to think up creative ways to surprise her. As they say, it's the little things that count and so I've been more thoughtful, understanding, communicated my emotions better, tried to see more from her viewpoint.
Sometimes I randomly think that maybe the break was good for both us. We now approach issues with a maturity that wasn't there a few years ago and mostly we now appreciate the little things we once took for granted. Sometimes, letting go is the best even though it's the hard.