A light but persistent drizzle drips from the grey sky above. I watch the scenery outside from my 6th floor apartment with a cup of coffee in my left hand, while my right places and retrieves the cigarette to and fro my lips. My iPod Nano is whispering in the background lightly on shuffle, Sick by Kilo Kish plays quietly. I watch and compare the steam from my coffee cup and the smoke from my Purple Clover while the ticking clock spills out a few minutes. I then turn my back to the window and lean against the window pane, still sipping and smoking. ‘Cocaine‘ by The Internet comes on next. Sydney Bennet’s voice never fails to withdraw a deep emotion or memory embedded somewhere unseen and long forgotten in my mind. This particular song reminds me of my ex-girlfriend. She loved the song and thought it one of the most romantic songs she’d heard. I thought so, too. It educes a strange emotion. I always visualise an electric, euphoric romance.
As the song plays on, a string of memories unravels in my brain. Memories of her and her delicate features, the time we spent together, our relationship. She was by far my most memorable girlfriend, most precious. We shared a relationship like none other I’d experienced before, (and probably ever to experience again). She wasn’t outstandingly gorgeous or remarkably attractive or anything like that, but something about her appealed dearly to me. I reminisce stroking her silky brown hair which streamed down to her shoulder-blades while we sat on the sofa, cuddled up, both engrossed in our novels.
We talked a lot. Her and I were so similar yet so different – we enjoyed doing mostly the same things, liked going to the same places as each other, we didn’t always agree – no, we had our separate opinions on things, but when it came to what we were feeling to do or where to go, we more-or-less were always in the same frame of mind.
On a typical evening when neither of us was tied up by our work schedules, she would come over to my apartment. We’d order a pizza or a Chinese, watch an old film, (I very, very rarely watched recent movies, usually only movies from the very early 2000s and before. She grew accustomed to this personal preference of mine and never complained), talk in depth about everything and anything over a drink of coffee, smoke, make out, smoke some more, make out again after a drink of whatever we fancied, then I’d wait for the bus with her, kiss her goodnight, and she’d call me when she got home to say she’s well and misses me already. We weren’t the soppy type, no, but we shared a deep dimension of compassion for one another. She needed me, and I very much needed her.
I take a final inhale of my cigarette and dub it out in the ashtray. I sip my coffee and replay ‘Cocaine‘. I didn’t want to stop thinking of my ex-girlfriend. I never did. She wasn’t constantly on my mind, but whenever a wave of recollections of her ascended from the dark ocean deep of nostalgia buried somewhere in my mind, I ponder on these flashbacks until my heart aches to an unbearable extent, then, I simply occupy my mind with something else and swallow the hurt.
How could such a perfect relationship come to an end, you may be wondering. Well, a fundamental issue occupied and played a very big part of our relationship. The very “issue” which brought us together, was essentially the reason for our break up. This has never been easy to explain, so bear with my fragmentary, vague expression of the situation…
We both needed each other, why? – Because we each carried a deep-rooted, self-destructive sadness and loneliness far down within us. An anchor which burdened us to a near-enough unbearable state. To the outside world, this was virtually unnoticed. She and I both went about our daily affairs normally with a smile, we associated with others ordinarily and no one had ever questioned either of us when it came to our central, true emotions. Don’t get me wrong – we had genuine good times together, and shared earnest ease and happiness when we were together. We weren’t always in low spirits, but particularly when we retired from the outside world and were alone, the depression crept in, and the feeling of being emotionally desolate was prominent. It’s hard to explain, I could never quite put it into words. But she knew how I felt, and I knew she felt the same way. What an imperfect, peculiar attraction, right? I saw the sorrow in her eyes after we started to become quite close friends, I could see her soul was troubled, and she was carrying a burdensome despondency and lack of real, real happiness. The sorrow clung on to her like an old, decayed rucksack, fixated on her back for all eternity. Her gleaming, innocent smile took the attention off her eyes, which – when looking deep into them, you could spot a sinister grief lodged within. They oozed out a lamenting plea for comfort; I could see a deeper abysmal hurting which she shrouded in public. I never had to ask her directly about it, we slowly opened up to each other and discovered we felt the same.
As I mentioned before, although we were very similar and pertained to each other’s feelings on an extraordinary degree, we were still very different. She opened up to me greatly about the way she felt, my very soul swallowed the descriptions she gave me of how she truly felt. She often said,
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know how to feel. Sometimes I feel so lonely and sad for no reason my throat gets tight, like something’s trying to disengage from me. When I tell you about it, it really does help. But sometimes I don’t know how to let it out or express it, those times I just cry”.
And crying, she did. She’d remain silent for a good half hour, staring at nothing, her eyes would widen and her pupils contract, then slowly tears would seep out of her reddened eyes. Like the last bit of honey from a bottle leaking out slowly. What a strange analogy – comparing sweet honey to bitter tears, but it was like that.
When she began to cry, I would simply hold her, tightly. So tightly that her tears would soak my shirt. I’d hold her silently while she weeps against my chest. She’d then release herself from my grip and run off into the kitchen or outside, where she’d release a deeper, impassioned, bitter cry. We understood each other divinely and we were commonly mutual in our individual depressive states. We could empathise with each other and relate. But when she reached to this stage, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like an outsider, like the rest of the world. Not knowing how much this girl is suffering and emotionally hurting deep inside.
I always figured I couldn’t relate with her when she was in this state because of one reason; she suffers an emotional depression, whereas, my depression is a mental depression. There was only so much I could understand about her, and her about me. I didn’t encounter mental breakdowns, but she endures plenty emotional breakdowns. We had our own world, an imperfect world where two misunderstood and overlooked beings lived in dismal harmony, alone, together. But even in this space of our own where we’d often escape to together, we were still galaxies apart.
After a few minutes alone, she’d return back to the sofa she left me on. She’d light us up both a Purple Clover each and we’d smoke in silence.
One day, one sour day, after she’d finished crying, she sat beside me on the sofa and looked me in the eyes, her eyes still red and moist from her sobbing. She stared at me hopelessly and said nothing. An oppressive silence expanded in the room while she held both my hands with her own. I, too, remained silent and waited for something, anything, in the universe to click. Not a sound. Her lips quivered after some moments and she went to utter something but only a swift sigh escaped from her lips. I waited. She closed her eyes and lowered her head, and spoke out,
“I need to go… no, I have to go”. She broke into tears.
“What, what do you mean ‘you have to’?”
“Please”, she broke, “don’t make this more difficult than it already is”, she said, half crying half sorrowfully mumbling.
She arose, kissed my forehead, and said,
“I will never forget you. Thank you for everything, honestly. But I can’t, I just can’t bring you down with me”.
Her words stuck with me. I clung on to them. I will never forget you… I just can’t bring you down with me. I try to fathom the depths of depression she’d sunken into, but it just hurts my heart. I cling on to her sweet scent mixed with Purple Clovers, I cling on to the tears she often left on me, to the smile of false hope she gave to the world, to the memories she gave me.
Baffled, and to say the least – perplexed, my mind reasoned no logical response to what she’d said, and I watched her clutch her handbag and walk out of the door. Never to return again. I sat there, in the same position she’d left me in for an hour, trying to piece what she’d said to me together, and also to figure out what she’d meant by it all. My mind went blank. All of a sudden, an overpowering loneliness struck me. I lit up a cigarette and put it out after two puffs, and simply stared at my hands for a long while. My fingertips tingled at the thought of her warm, slender fingers easing themselves away from my hands. I gently touch the spot she kissed on my forehead. That night, I drowned in an unforgettable sadness and confusion.
That day was very much a reality, as real as reality gets. But today, my ex-girlfriend is just memories, fragments of reminiscence, shadows of thought. I’m left alone, a familiar feeling. Withdrawn back into my solitary shell, reading books alone, watching old movies alone, smoking 20 cigarettes a day alone, drinking countless cups of cheap coffee alone. Existing as a mere ghost, a container for nostalgia and long gone memories.