“Happiness is a butterfly
I try to catch it every night
but it escapes from my hands
into the moonlight.”
– Lana Del Rey
Wiping all the photos of you and videos of us from my phone took about forty minutes, twenty-eight of which were spent on second and third guesses. I got a notification that the device’s memory is one gigabyte lighter, and I hate it, I hate that the speed processor rubs it in. I guess it was the weight of the memories we made, and the high resolution that those moments came with.
In telling me that you were done with the façade that was our romance, you opted for a WhatsApp video call. It vaguely reminds me of Ugochi’s “let’s call it a day” text via Blackberry Messenger, and Mimi’s “I don’t think you have to reach me anymore” Facebook message. I must be a really bad lover to not have ever been afforded the decency of proper closure.
You were the only person on earth and its neighbouring planets (unless a Martian was watching closely) who knew where I was when the bus broke down at 11.45pm in the middle of nowhere. I remember how you screamed when I told you that we had possibly run out of petrol. In any case, a fifteen-hour road trip is a small inconvenience, if having my head rest between your thighs is the ultimate goal.
There was something unusually warm about that sofa that lay in the other room at your apartment in Katampe, the room where you preferred to clasp your lips around those cigarette stubs. You said he always treated you like an afterthought, but you forgot to add that you experienced your most memorable orgasms shortly after he was done gas-lighting you, and that you soon got used to the moans from the other end of the phone whenever you called to find out if he would return late from work, per usual. Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away” has featured twice on the playlist shuffle tonight, and I wish I could say it reminded me of nothing, I wish I didn’t have to recall how you loved to reiterate that you didn’t care much for American Honey.
Have you ever considered a career as a travel agent? You organise the arrangements for these guilt trips so effortlessly.
“Why do I settle for women
that force me to pick the pieces?
Why do I want an independent woman
to feel like she needs me?“
– Drake, “Redemption”
My friends told me that it was a little too pre-emptive to have a “pre-breakup” playlist on my laptop. Listening to John Mayer croon the lyrics “it’s not a silly moment/it’s not the storm before the calm/this is the deep and dying breath of/this love that we’ve been working on” in “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” as I walk to the bus terminal, I’m thinking they were probably correct.
I’m sorry for missing your wedding, Harold. There are old men who decide to skip the funerals of their childhood friends because it reminds them that their time is not so far away; maybe seeing Confetti light up the air as wedding guests unwrap their souvenirs reminds me that I’m no closer to finding that enduring love than I was in the summer of 2010 when I mumbled through my lines as I asked Ese out, maybe watching a bride beam with smiles as she flings the bouquet towards the sky reminds me of the luminance that I sometimes fear may forever elude me.
In the middle of a phone call thanking me for a recent transfer made to his bank account, my father asked me what plans I had to settle down. He reckoned without the fact that the last text I got that wasn’t in itself a reply to mine was thirteen weeks ago, that Sunday afternoon when you called me “petty and immature” for subtly hinting at your emotional detachment in a tweet. He forgets that I live in Lagos, a megacity whose lights are antithetical to sincere emotion.
You were 28 going on 29; beautiful, but a tad drawn. I was 22, inquisitive, ambitious, eyes white and wide.
“Why do you always look tired?” I’d ask. Your response was always “give it time”. You’d smile when I told you my dreams, and look away shyly when I asked about yours.
Now I’m 28 and, three breakups and five therapy sessions later, I finally see what you mean. Amidst a rapidly receding hairline, these bags have found a resting spot underneath my eyes, and I don’t need a trio of boys jumping on my back to know that breathing per second is fairly exhausting. You don’t have to ask about my dreams; they flew out of my reach long ago. At least we can trade stories of fatigue now. You go first.
If these notes ever reach you – whoever you are – at least you would have an idea of where I’m coming from, where I have been and what I have tried to do (and failed woefully). As a child, we were asked in elementary school what we wanted to be in the future, and we guffawed when one of us at the back simply said “to be happy and loved”, but it all makes sense now. The idea of searching for that one person is an attractive one, but I’ve found that all it does is trap you in a maze. It’s like Super Mario’s search for the elusive Princess Toadstool; I navigate one realm, only to find that I have to go check out another castle. Nevertheless, I’ll be here, waiting, if you ever want to talk. Per these verses, let me know when you get them…if you get them.