What protects the heart? Anyone? Whatever it is. Even better, whoever it is, must’ve been slacking when I first realized the heart could feel pain. Their ineptitude must’ve drove them on a YouTube rabbit hole that begins with watching an inspiring TED talk and culminating at something inane like – viewing ducks fight. Maybe they had a pain of their own to nurse, so I’ll drop my bile, but not quite. It’s been a while since I was heartbroken vis-à-vis a romantic relationship, or at least what I thought were romantic relationships. You can never be too sure, romantic realms don’t guarantee requited love. This is where you stop reading when you’ve never been through the throes of heart ache. I’m about to wear my heart on my sleeves, the cooler brother who wears a fedora to ‘opening up’ the older brother who’s knack for fashion went extinct. Again, this is where machismos make Irish exists because I’m about to reek unmanliness on this piece. We good. My first heartbreak stung the intricacies of my guiltless heart, hell, I was a boy. My world was so utopian, a Disney fairytale if you may. I didn’t know pain, let alone deciphering it. Let me tell you about her.
There was this girl; it doesn’t matter where you are. Or what language you speak. Or who protects your heart. When a sentence begins with the aforementioned phrase there’s only one trajectory it could go – south. Albeit unwritten, it’s a proverbial rule. If Christian, you could ask Samson or King David – theirs make better lore. Anyway, let’s call her – drumroll – Berry (I would have called her Ham, but then y’all sporadic vegans have short tempers). I can’t recall Berry’s name, I know, enough with the eye rolling. I can’t get to prod my memory to remember her face either, it has dwindled through the years. It’s been what, 11 years! I know she was beautiful, as long as 2009 is concerned. In my sudden bouts of reminisces, she occasionally visits. She came knocking a couple of days ago. I used it as incentive to look her up on the internet, mark you, without a name. I bent over backwards. Summoned the inner sleuth we all have and asked for a solid. I tried every name that I thought could fit her; Mercy, Maureen, Debbie, Carol and whatnot. I didn’t try Faith – she didn’t seem like someone who’d have a colossal forehead. I even tried Viola, for Christ sakes, Viola! How many people do you know now called Viola. It ended in a debacle, or tears. Pick what makes your heart tingle little sadists.
Honestly, I don’t know what I’d actually say if I actually found her. Possibly something like;
ME: Hey, it’s me, Allen. Remember me from 11 years ago? The short boy who had nothing to offer but disjointed breakdance moves. How single are you on a scale of 1-10?
She’ll read, let it simmer for a while, because hot lasses don’t reply immediately. And later reply.
HER: I have a boyfriend.
Hopefully it goes better than that. Even the dreaded friendzone is fine, I could work my way up the pecking order, fat chance I’d make it, but there’s prospective no matter how flimsy.
Berry sojourned with an aunt of mine for a while. We got acquainted and got inseparable, homeboy was emphatically in love. The type of novice love that would make you migrate to Madagascar swimming. Or cycling even. I had made habit of spending weekends at my aunt’s, she was the reason to my ‘why’. We did a lot of things. Really rad things, like holding hands, hush! Their school was along my way home. On weekdays we used to make gab, whilst each on either side of their school’s perimeter fence – her on the inside, me on the outside like a ruffian thrown out of a club. It was a vicious cycle, stay apart on weekdays and spend time on weekends. I was zest about weekends. It was a paradox; a romantic platonic relationship. This went on and on, until the devil got bored. One Friday, I was exuberant. I was going to see her. The world had other plans. When I got to my aunt’s she wasn’t there, not a trace, not a whiff. I even checked under the beds just in case she was pulling my leg. You can never be too certain with girls, they ruse you to determine if you love them enough – that wasn’t the case. She wasn’t under there either. Not in the bathroom, not in the other bedrooms, not in the playground. Nowhere. Apparently she had gone, moved back home. There I was, a lone heart, devastated, bereft, hollow with a throbbing pain in my core.
I haven’t met Berry since. Not an idea of where she is. She might be a monk somewhere remote for all I know. She could be a hippy in some detached community. I don’t know. Maybe when I’m hurtling towards 30 years single, I’ll have no choice but to track her down and hope like I then, she had no luck with guys. Courtesy of time, I won’t have to impress with incoherent breakdance moves. This is for her, for the sake of brevity; take me back, even if you’re a Viola.