Monday, December 25, 2017

Wishing on a Star - Or how the Grinch Strikes Back

Two years ago I wrote how the Grinch stole our Christmas. This year he is back with a vengeance, messing with our love once again.

Our story picks up again in January 2017:


Of course our love is forever. Everybody knows that. All loves are. We all know. That is, as long as both parties stick to the script. Us? We've said our goodbyes many times over. Little did I know there are two kinds of farewell. One where lovers misspell “I miss you” and the other – whatever - one. We even convinced ourselves we had moved on. In my never-ending arrogance, I wrote just that - presumptuously speaking for the both of us.

Take it from an expert, I'm the biggest, most baddass fool there is. Why else would I write we both moved on? By simply stating that, I proved the very opposite to be true, creating the perfect contradictio in terminus. Not that fancy Latin ever brought two lovers back together. On top of that, the arrogance to speak for the both of us! Two souls, one heart? Whatever. But hey, you've gotta give it to me, when I mess up, I outshine everyone. With easy, I might add.

Boxing Day, two years ago, I wrote about how the Grinch stole our Christmas. Adept at the art of understatement, I focused on the tangible stuff, like the box she left, or my brilliant plans for our first Christmas together. Adding under- to -statement, I got overconfident and applied the word "stole" loosely, where in real life what actually happened was closer to something of a protracted genocide. At the time of writing we both had moved on. I wrote it, so it must be true. Allow me to introduce myself, I am the king of fools, but you may call me Mr. Idiot. I’ll wear that name with pride.

There are two tales, people never get tired of. And no, the one about the evil Grinch is not one of them. The first story is some 175 years in the making. It tells the tale of Christmas and a couple of ghosts moving back and forth through time, trying to make up somebody else’s mind.

The second one is a true classic, it's been around forever. Once upon a time, a boy looked into a girl's eyes. You know how it ends: game over. Forever. Not exactly sure what happened to the girl, but boy guesses it was something similar.

When I wrote about our love past, yeah, yeah I know, I revealed the true meaning of Christmas. I explained how it exists for two reasons: to hug trees and to give lovers a chance to reconnect.  Actually Christmas exists for three reasons, the third one is a stiff drink. Better pour yourself one, cause this is gonna be a long story.

The Secret Garden


What I really meant is: “What took you so long?”

It was inevitable. And please stop smiling, there are things even a fool knows. “Hey”, quod erat demonstrandum. All relationships come with their own unique signature and this is part of ours. A few years ago, the doctors had given up hope on my mother. It was also our anniversary, so I texted her. We hadn’t spoken in a while but long story short, without realizing, she saved my life that night. Mum miraclously recovered only to pass away a few months later. The days before, as I drove home at night, I knew for sure she would fall out of the sky, in the seat right next to me. After all, isn’t that what angels do? Guess that’s also part of who we are.

Perhaps that sounds like the ideal relationship – except for the being together part – but our dynamic has always been pretty intense. At times to mutual frustration, I might add. One day, she was sitting at the dinner table, I was on the couch:

"Do you think, we're gonna make it?"

Wrong answer of course. We hugged goodbye under the same chandelier, we had our first kiss. A little later, all by myself, I cried, waiting for my connection. Don't worry, we were back together six days later. Despite that, it will never erase the memory of the taxi driver, trying to make small talk. "I'm sorry sir, but my girlfriend and I just broke up."

Sometimes it feels, the more you love, the harder it is to circumnavigate the inevitable rocks. The more time you spend with the woman you love, the better you get to know her - and yourself of course. Over time I realized our relationship, for a long time, most likely forever, would be a rocky one. Hard to explain, but I understood. It has never been about accepting that truth nor about realizing it. It is something much more essential. She is who she is. I love her because she is her. Without our struggle, she is somebody else and I wouldn't love her. Doesn't make it any easier though.

Perhaps that is the beauty of love, giving yourself to someone despite it all. Accepting who she is, and who she will be, without trying to change her. Loving the lovable parts is so easy, but accepting the struggle and inevitable darkness we all carry within us, is perhaps what defines love best.

Before you start believing I’m the zenith of wisdom when it comes to relationships – unlikely but OK – let me tell you another story.

Falling in love is 100 percent rear-view mirror. You think you know, but only by looking back, the full truth reveals itself.

Even though, she told me, she loved me before I did - "would you care to repeat what I just said?" - I loved her first. I'm sorry, but I'm not gonna tell you why or how - every love story needs a bit of mystery - but it is the honest truth. To make it even more implausible, let me tell you about the first time I told her "I love you!"

They say, there's one born every minute. After I was born, it stopped for quite some time. Cosmic re-balancing and so on.

"Do you love me?"

That's right, she had to ask me! I'm a fool. I know. On top of that, technically, yes is not the same as I love you.

"I knew. I felt it."

That sealed it. Forever, as I would later find out. Nothing left to say. Now comes the hard part. They [we] didn't live happily ever after. Default guy-thinking goes something like this:

Girl: "Do you still love me?"
Guy: "I'm here, ain't I?"

To this day, that makes perfect sense to me. Clearly, women hold a different view.

The Day Before You Came

“Have you heard?”

Back to January of this year. Actually I did. By chance I might add. Like I said, our love has an unique, demanding dynamic that is so much more than a “hey” or “I miss you.”

One thing I know for sure is that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever. Boy loves girl, throw in a few petty obstacles - after all, nobody pays for an 11 minute movie - and then Christmas together, forever. A minority of viewers, for reasons I cannot comprehend, believe, the tale of some fatal encounter featuring the iceberg and a prop, called the "unsinkable" luxury liner, makes for a better Christmas story. Hello, reality check, boy doesn't get girl. In fact he drowns in the cold, cold ocean while she lives well into old age, missing him every single day. In hindsight perhaps, drowning doesn't sound so bad - for him at least.

Just like non-verbal communication is 95 percent of all communications, love is defined by the part of the iceberg that is underwater. Sometimes it sinks the Titanic, other times it offers refuge to those trying to stay afloat.

Who we are, is decided by both nature and nurture. The nature part is nothing more than a random lottery. The nurture stuff is where things get complicated. If you fall in love and think the sky is the limit, you're the world's greatest underachiever. In any healthy, long-term relationship lovers should spend time apart, pursuing other interests. But that first phase, the falling in love part, is when you cannot spend enough time together and usually that is where you learn the most. The way you learn is by picking up on what is left out of the equation, things not being said.

I'm loud, opinionated and extrovert, sometimes too much. On top of that I’m Dutch, which means everything to the nth degree. Then I fell in love. Because of that I found myself listening to the silence accompanying the words, stuff she didn't speak about. Love grows over time. During that first romantic phase, you say "I love you." Give it some time and it changes into "I love you very much". As more time goes by and you hear yourself saying "I really, really love you with all my heart." If you are true to yourself, you understand that real love needs time to develop. One day, when the day comes, you see the truth in all its glory, 'really' and 'very much' lose all meaning. That's when you say "I love you" No need for adjectives or to raise your voice. Less is more, and if you want to emphasize anything it is the word 'you'. I love YOU.

As I was falling down the rabbit hole, I began to realize, the way forward for us, was to give her full control of the speed at which our love would grow. This has nothing - and I cannot stress that enough - nothing! to do with kink. It is all about two people falling in love - slowly beginning to understand who the other person is - and making it work. Don’t worry, she knew how to read me in key areas as well.

So yes, I heard. Sheer coincidence I might add. What does one say? Sometimes even a fool searches for answers. What I do know however is that you finish one book, before you start the next.

I like grand gestures, it gives me the illusion things are extra special that way. For her first birthday after our break-up, I sent her roses, as many roses as the number of years in her life. One rose per day - symbolizing one year of her life - for several weeks in a row, untill the day of her birthday. Each rose was accompanied by a little note with something from our earliest chat history. Don’t worry, I wasn’t stalking her – haven’t you paid attention? Whenever a rose wasn’t delivered, it happened a few times, she texted me, asking where her rose was. Trust me: nothing better than to hear her say “my” rose. Big, big smile.

For her birthday, I did something special. Like I said, every love story needs a bit of mystery, but the grand finale came with a card. Don’t know exactly what I wrote, but it was something like “our fork in the road”

Years later, in January of 2017, we were back at square one, that infamous fork in the road all over. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. I’ve always liked that quote. Doing nothing required both strength and courage. It was hard. But there was no other way. Maybe I was wrong, perhaps the timing wasn’t right, but she took the other path. Some choices you can only make yourself, even if it means uncertainty.

What happened then? Whatsapp went silent. On an average day, I make more mistakes than most people take breaths, but there is one – and only one – thing where I didn’t make a mistake: what came next. I did nothing. That may surprise you after reading the first part of this epic love story, but it is part of the unique rhythm of our love.

Spring arrived, then summer. She came to mind often, but less prominent than in those first few weeks of 2017. Surprised, curious and a whole lot of other emotions, but above all OK with her choice. Make no mistake, it hit me like a ton of bricks, it’s hard with a capital “H”. But like I wrote then, sometimes to love, means to let go. Things went back to the way they were, sort of.

Closest Thing to Heaven

The way our subconscious works is one of the most amazing things ever. Years ago, a couple of months after we split up, one morning I woke up with her in my arms. The smile on my face must have been huge. That is, until I found out, it was not her I was holding but my pillow. Trust me, the moment you wake up to reality, is devastating.

One night, last month as I went to bed, something similar happened. As I slowly drifted away, she was there. In my arms. For real. Just like before. I recognized her smell. “What took you so long?” The magic of her, curled up in my arms - the only place she wanted to be - as she was falling asleep. There is a deep beauty, far beyond anything erotic, about having her in your arms. The warmth of her skin pressed against your body is like nothing in the world.

As she slowly starts to drift away, her breathing is reduced to a gentle whisper. Meanwhile her heartbeat slows down in those final moments before she falls asleep. All the time, she is next to me, in my arms, the only place where she wants to be.

In Dutch we say "Love changes a small bed into a large one." At night, when we went to sleep, she inevitable crawled up so close to me, there was no space left between us. It took me some time to notice, but just before she fell asleep, she always pushed herself just that little bit closer to me. Technically, there was no room left between us. Some might consider what she did, superfluous, but to me it was pure magic. Don't think, she ever realized. But it was her coup de grĂ¢ce, not that she needed one. If only I could stop time.

It wasn’t exactly a dream, because I was still awake when it happened, but the same dream occured to me for a number of days in a row. I don’t know why suddenly she was back, full frontal in my mind, almost a year after we last spoke. It’s one hell of a happy memory though. It also was very difficult. Obviously because she wasn’t in my arms. I questioned how I handled things back in January. When it comes to girls or love, I’m a superior idiot. I try to be honest, but miss 99 percent of the clues. This time there was no doubt, the way I handled it was the only way.

I always assumed that if she wanted to be my girl, she’d be in my arms right now. Over time I realized, it’s not how life works. Everything in life is more despite it than because of. That gives you some clue as to just how clueless I am. Hey, forever learning.

Sem Ti

“After all this time, you still think about that girl?” First, she is not that girl, she is her! Good question nevertheless, time for another little story.

Let me tell you about the impact she had on me. On the last day of our first weekend together, we were having Sunday lunch in the pub. Halfway I realized, I forgot my coat. No problem, next time, except for the fact that my passport was still in it.

I love to travel, the more unusual the better. There was this one time, they left me in the desert because the driver was cross with me. Whatever, I thought, not even annoyed. Then there was the time I went to some Middle Eastern country and they wouldn't let me in. The letter of recommendation - in Arabic - wasn't good enough. It is one of those airports where nine out of then airplanes were UN machines. Two in the morning and they wanted me to write in Arabic, the place where I was staying. I fel asleep on the couch and after three hours they let me into the country. Basically, I don’t care, don’t know what stress is and I don’t loose my cool.

During what would turn out to be our last time together, I missed my plane. First time ever and the simplest plane to catch in the whole world. She came close to saying I did so on purpose. When it comes to everything that matters, she’s much smarter than me, so she might be right. I’ve been on an adventure or two and my default mode is “not impressed.” She is the only one – ever – to change that. And this is just the part that I am willing to share with you.

Two years ago I wrote how the road was wide open. Like the commercial says: new and improved, washes more with less. Roughly translated as “I’m still an idiot, but understand things a little bit better now.” So where does that leave me? Note how I’m not talking about us. Surprisingly, in a state of tranquility. What happened gave me peace of mind, not in the usual way, but I’ve stopped questioning myself. Everybody wants their love to be pure, me too. Even though I was sure, she loves me just as much as I love her, there always was this little nagging voice. “Am I telling this to myself, because I miss her?” That doubt is gone. Forever.

I know she choose what was right for her at that point in her life. Like I said, our love is a rocky one, most likely forever. I may be a fool, but you can read that any way you want.


Merry Christmas – and don’t forget to watch Doctor Who tonight! Two years ago I dreamt of impossible Clara finally being out of the picture. Most likely “Twice Upon a Time” is Bill’s last adventure, I’m sure gonna miss her.

We left the Doctor resisting regeneration after an adventure in which time, for once, was his enemy. When the Twelfth Doctor will finally make way for the Thirteenth Doctor, she [!] is the first female (on-screen) Doctor. Cool!

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