I’ve Caught Myself Thinking, If Only We’d Met Later On…

Building valuable, healthy relationships are central to living a positive and productive life. Bumble has helped change the way we interact, breaking down old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging women to make the first move. Over the next month, we’re celebrating love. We’ve partnered with Bumble to highlight interesting ways to start a conversation, how to find love in the digital age, how to cultivate intimacy as we emerge from isolation and more. Alongside our helpful and inspiring content, we’ll also share stories of ‘the one that got away’ — because sometimes it’s the love before that leads you to The One.

I keep thinking about you sitting there on that luggage trolley, cross-legged; calm amongst the chaos of Kansai airport. As I stood in that checkout line, squished amongst backpackers and Chinese families bound for a Guangzhou stopover, I looked at you, just 20 metres away… you looked as if you were floating in an orb, completely separate from the noise around you.

I watched you and smiled — like watching an eclipse — fleeting beauty; ungraspable. You smiled back and texted me something cute I can’t remember. I could check now, but what would that change?

As we waited in that crowded terminal to board the guts of giant metallic birds bound for nests on opposing sides of this spinning rock, a part of me knew.

I kissed you goodbye and you left.

Bound for X.

A part of me knew…

Insomnia; the same dance every night.

I have tried to cast you aside but it is an impossible task. You are there when I shower, there when I cycle to work, there with me in quiet elevators, and train station terminals. Following me but saying not a word. Your memory both saddens me and fills me with a strange melancholic joy a better writer could put into words.

Every time I open my bedroom door I look to my bed, half hoping, still half expecting for you to be there, sleeping or sitting cross-legged looking at me with that warm smile that melts me. Every. Single. Time.

“I tried to cast you aside but it is an impossible task.”

The memory of it still does.

You are in my dreams most nights. They feel so real. So real because they are uncoated by sugar — of course I dream of the good times both real and constructed, of your embrace, your cute chubby cheeks red from the snowfall, of us holding hands and walking somewhere — who cares where… but sometimes we still fight in my consciousness while I sleep. Stupid dumb arguments. Dreaming me takes you for granted. It is only when I awake clutching my pillow like a fucking cliché does reality set in, and I will myself back to sleep for one last chance to be with you again.

I tell myself I’m fine, there is wisdom in old clichés, and it is better to have loved and lost. After all, I reason with myself, I was fine before I met you. You were something I couldn’t predict. You came out of nowhere, a powerful meteorite that slipped past the radar and crashed straight into the pit of my gut.

You’re fine, I tell the sunken-eyed robot in the mirror.

But really I cover your scent with coffee, cheap beer and cigarettes. Exhale smoke and curse the next man to stare into your gaze as you stare back with those deep ocean eyes; both inquisitive and wise.

I’ve caught myself thinking, if only we’d met later on, when we had calmed some of the more treacherous reaches of the oceans in our minds, but that is a hypothesis based on false pretence; a shaky castle built on sandy foundations, for I would not be who I am today without first intertwining with you, for you are so much a part of what makes me, me.

“I’ve caught myself thinking, if only we’d met later on.”

Perhaps it was the way in which you looked at the world — a childish naïveté somehow working in harmony with an abstractly wise mind mixed with an unquenchable curiosity that is so distinctively yours. An endearing airhead, whose constant innocent questioning of the seemingly mundane reignited a sad lost boy’s faith in other humans.

You have been the catalyst for my self-discovery, an evolution erupting from magma deep inside me fuelled by the latent realisation that it’s time to man up — a realisation that came much too late to benefit you, and will benefit perhaps the one that comes after, the one whose hand I’ll hold whilst thinking of yours. The one I’ll call morphine.

No dose will ever be enough though; to numb the ghost of the way you’d look at me during times of peace; when the world seemed so colourful. All the birds sang.

Yet we can’t always see the true grandeur of the forest when we are surrounded by trees. I failed in fully loving you. Maybe I was not the man I should have been. Was I weak? I ask the robot in the dirty bathroom mirror but he gives no answers. Most of the time. He’s confused. Sometimes my foundations proved less than secure. Cracks I’ve only just mended, now standing strong in a hall long void of meaning. For what is existence without you? I think to myself in times of self-pity.

I squander that thought quickly though, replace it with a smile warmed by memories of mornings of soft light and touch. I’ll hold these till I’m old and grey, I hope they warm me still, when I reach my end and see your smiling face and shy eyes.

Time is unpredictable, the mind; fragile.

Though I hope it is memories of your gaze, mocha mornings and your soft bottom lip.

That fill my parting days.

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