Rocks in the Sea

I sat on the rocks in the middle of the water, and watched the waves hit the rock. The tide was low, so the rocks weren’t covered like they usually would have been. I sat as far off on the edge as I could, without getting wet. Occasionally, though, there was a huge wave that lashed against the rocks, and the recoil would drench me from head to toe. Still, the blanket I’d draped on my shoulders, and the feeble heat from the beer in my hand kept me warm enough.

I wouldn’t have any thoughts when I watched the waves. I’d let my mind dissolve into the water, rising and falling with each crest and trough. I’d let it recede back, and then crash onto the rocks. I was quite lost and blank in the head, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

If there was a moment I’d want to be stuck in forever, it would be that one – clear night skies studded with stars stretched above me, pitch black waters crashing into the rock I sat on, white surfs splashing onto me once in a while. Me sitting there with a beer in my hand, enjoying the slightest of buzz from the alcohol. If there was a heaven for me, this would be it.

The mood was soon broken, though, by my friend joining me on the rock and sitting down next to me. It would’ve been enough if he’d just sat down next to me, but he then proceeded to go into a narrative on how the beach and the sea made him feel. (If you’ve not noticed from my previous posts) Tuning out is a skill I’ve been practicing for a while, and I tuned him out as much as possible, all the while peppering his monologue with strategically placed ‘hmm’s and ‘mmhmm’s from my end. I didn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation – quite honestly, I didn’t want to be having a conversation, but there we were.

This friend wasn’t only a friend, though. We had dated for a short while, a really long ago, and had called it quits over ‘irrevocable future circumstances’. I’ll let you interpret it however you want. Only recently had we started talking to each other, since we’d come to a position where we’d have to share a lot more time together. We’d been no-contact for the longest time, and while there had been a point in time where I wanted us to be friends, that point had passed by a really long time ago. Now, when I wasn’t very bothered about whether or not we’d be friends, this person had walked back into my life.

He didn’t talk much, unless he was drunk, which is why he didn’t get drunk very often. And he began to talk, about everything. About the future, about the present, about the past. About the relationships he had after me, about how he felt about them, about how he’d felt about our relationship. It occurred to me early on that I’d be expected to participate in the conversation with more than just ‘hmm’s and ‘mmhmm’s, so tuning him out wouldn’t work. Mildly irritated at having my perfect moment broken, I turned to what he was saying.

A few attempts at participating in the conversation made me realise that the dialogue was being held for his benefit, not mine. Not really surprising, given how he’d sought me out on a nearly empty beach, abandoning our other quite-drunk comrades and their shenanigans. It was for him to get out his pent up feelings of remorse and sorrow, and it seemed like I was under some obligation to listen. I didn’t sit there because of I was obliged, however – I was curious to know what his version of events were.

I am currently in a very different mental state than what I’d been in when I’d dated this person. I’d been still quite innocent in my ways of thinking, and I was still under the grips of the emotional and mental abuse I’d faced during my first relationship. I was still co-dependant, and heavily relied on those around me, be it friends or romantic partner. I also believed that love lasts forever, and that any emotion linked to attraction and infatuation could be love. I wanted someone to be there for me, to guide me, to hold my hand. In one phrase, I was a damsel in distress.

Now, I’m cynical, don’t depend on anyone unnecessarily, and don’t believe that romantic relationships should be emotional rollercoasters. While some amount of the past lingers within me, I’ve taken the time to get over and to heal from all my past trauma. Over the span of enough romances, I’ve learnt that infatuation, attraction and love are all different things, and can be mutually exclusive in certain situations. I believe that giving and taking in a relationship happens in a mutual space, and the concept of individuality which exists outside the mutual space needs to be given as much importance and care as one would give to the space created between two people.

While I listened to this person talk about his past, I realised that he hadn’t come across the concept of mutuality and exclusivity in his journey. He didn’t seem to have realised that moving on necessarily didn’t mean being willing to get together with someone else, but learning to recognise the parts of you that needed the romance in the past, and understanding why those parts of you wouldn’t work for you anymore. A realisation I’d had months after breaking up with him came back to me – we would have eventually broken up because of who we are, if not for the reason that separated us back then.

Here was a person who wanted someone to give affection to, someone to share his thoughts with, and someone to behave along the line that he drew for them. His affection, his time would all be given as he saw fit, on his terms, and he would determine how much the other person deserved. The time I’d had with him was too short to have been able to determine all this – also, I’m a terrible judge of character from the get-go, so I wouldn’t have been able to decipher all this until much later.

Instead of reminiscing about the past, I reached out within me, and found the hand of the person who had fallen in love with someone not right for them. That version of me still existed – every past version of me existed within me, kept safe in the back of my mind, away from the reach of the external world that had hurt them. It used to be a practice of mine, to look back and give past me a hug – for having been so strong, so kind, so brave, with the capacity to put themselves out there in a way I would never have the courage to do again. It had been a while, but I embraced the me from many years ago, and felt the warmth and the love and the trust I’d once given the person sitting next to me so freely – things he threw out, like worn out clothes, when he took the decision to never speak to me again.

Towards the end of this conversation, when he had emptied everything that had sat heavily on his chest, he asked me if I had something to say to him. At one point, I had a lot to say, but it was so long ago that all of those things ceased to matter, and I’d forgotten them. Whatever did matter to me now, I knew, he wouldn’t understand, and I honestly didn’t have the patience then to explain a new language to someone who’d never imagined it existed.

I thanked him for sharing, and told him that I wished him the same happiness that I enjoyed with my current partner. There wasn’t much more I could say, other than reiterations of the same thing.

It was strange – how some things can change so much, but at the same time, not at all. And, when it was time to leave that rock, I took one last look back, and burnt into my mind the image of the piece of heaven that had given me refuge and, serendipitously, closure that had long awaited me.

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