“I had to meet you here today
There’s just so many things to say
Please don’t stop me ’til I’m through
This is something I hate to do
We’ve been meeting here so long
I guess what we done, oh was wrong
Please darlin’, don’t you cry
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye…
The words of the old Manhattans’ tune ran through my mind as I sat on our favourite bench in the park holding her slender fragile frame while I stared at her in silence. We had never had much use for words in our twenty odd years together –she had always had the uncanny ability to read and understand my every mood. For twenty years, she had been the love of my life. For twenty years she had been the one I turned to when the weight of the world settled on my shoulders. It had all started as a joke…
I was fourteen when I met her. Young and impressionable with the bounce and swagger of most of the hip-hop generation, she easily complimented my machismo when me and my boys were hanging at corners, checking out the girls; my gangster lean as we cased the floor of a good party, flailing our hands in the air and bopping our heads to the NWA as they screamed “Fuck the Police!”, my attitude as we cruised the streets, half-hanging out of the windows of whichever one of our parents’ cars we had rolled out of the garage without their consent. With her, I stood taller than my five feet nine frame.
I was fourteen and naïve –I can admit that now with the benefit of hindsight- she on the other hand had been around. I had underestimated her lure but I cannot in all honesty say that I had not been warned to stay away from her when the relationship was only a few days old. I would not have believed it if anyone had told me then she would be around this long. Come on, who at that age thinks of settling down. Like every other teenager, all I wanted was to have some fun.
“How did you get here
nobody’s supposed to be here
I’ve tried that love thing for the last time
my heart says no, no
nobody’s supposed to be here
but you came along and changed my mind…
I had sworn I was never going to fall in love ever again –not after Ada’s betrayal in form two. Hers was the seat in front of mine in class. She was the girl all the boys wanted to get with but had neither the wherewithal nor the guts to even make an attempt. I had both and I tried.
I was twelve; she was eleven and half. Uninhibited and unhindered by the drag the lessons of experience can sometimes be, I wrote her my first love letter. It was copied straight out of LL Kool J’s “I need love”.
“When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall
and at the back of my mind I hear my conscience call
Telling me I need a girl who’s as sweet as a dove
for the first time in my life, I see I need love…
I had been passing her notes for four consecutive days, pledging undying love before she betrayed me. I had bared my whole mind to her –that was the era when one could get away with lines like, “You’re the cherry on my sundae” or “You’re the apple of my eyes”. I even told her she was the only sugar in my tea once. Damn! I was in love.
Anyway, she showed her mother my letters. Her mother decided it might not be innocent puppy love when my fourth letter in four days was shown to her. She took the letters to the principal who read the letters out line by line and word by word to the whole school at the weekly general assembly. I stood there beside him with my head bowed but defiant as everybody laughed their heads off at my expense.
I got to do three days detention after classes each day. I stayed back each day to write “I‘ll never write love letters again” one thousand times and believe me I have never since then. I did not know it then but I had just been taught a cardinal rule of the love game that early in life –Verbal confessions are one thing, written ones are another. Anything you write down, can and will be used against you.
So how did this one get to stay twenty years? I had never written her love letters and not once in twenty years had she complained. It can’t be because she never said “no” to me, can it? That can’t be it because there had been others who never said no to me, yet they had been loved and left. Maybe, because she never bitched when I strayed. Not one jealous bone in her delicate anatomy. Many a time, I had taken out my frustrations on her, tearing everything she had on off before taking the perverse pleasure that she gave so well. Yet, not a word of protest will she utter.
I had tried time and time again to get away from her because I knew deep inside she was not good for me. Sometimes I had stayed away for a week, sometimes two and once I stayed away for two whole months. But I always went back and she would take me back without a word. Never a fuss out of her, did I hear.
In all sincerity, I acknowledge that she’s not good for me but I love her so. Oh how I love her. How can I live without her? The days are so long that I spend without her and the nights so tense that she’s not within my reach.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I closed my eyes to keep them from rolling down. I had to be strong now. Life as I had come to know it will never be the same again, not without “my sweetest taboo”.
“How do I live without you
I want to know
How do I breathe without you
If you ever go
How do I ever, ever survive
How do I
How do I
Oh, how do I….
I have to let her go. I know it won’t be easy but this time I’ll never look back. I looked at her, took one last drag and tossed her in the grass. I swore this would be the last stick I was ever going to smoke. Next time I fall in love, I know it won’t be with her.
“Please darlin’, don’t you cry
let’s just kiss and say goodbye…