If you’d asked a few years ago, I’d probably have chosen beautiful beginnings and tragic ends- not once, not twice but a hundred times over. I’d have laughed if you asked why and then, animatedly explained how the maddening rush of each new beginning together with the chaos of each inevitable end created the continuum of life. And then, added how this ‘life’ we spoke of was too short to stumble upon a middle. A middle takes time and time is a luxury most of us can’t afford. I knew, because I couldn’t. Not back then, anyway.
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I chose the same for love. I picked out magical beginnings, like the first spark of lightning or the sight of a shooting star and drew out the feeling of butterflies fluttering in my tummy until the moment someone shot them unexpectedly and buried them in the pit of my stomach. Life, to me, was a string of these brilliant beginnings and inevitable ends- with little patience or time for the in-between.
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It was like I wanted to outrace the ticks of the clock, so much so that I’d pick avalanches over rolling stones, torrents over trickles and hurricanes over breezes. Maddeningly allured by the promise of change- but little interested in experiencing the transition- I was getting used to disarray as a way of life, collecting my love-filled beginnings and heartbreaking ends, in a trophy jar, like one’d do flowers on a bright spring morning. Strewn amidst my collection of fragrant stories or pressed in between the pages of a tear-stained diary, these flower-like beginnings and ends of my journey were my valued lessons in life- lessons I couldn’t wait to discover and wouldn’t stop to amass.
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They created chaos, alright- but a chaotic mess I could keep count of, like the strokes of time. Time that I was matching footsteps with.
It wasn’t that the beginnings didn’t delight me- like the bleeding of night skies into clear morns or that the ends didn’t hurt- like the endless hours spent to eclipse unbearable pain in a thick fog of cigarette smoke. But I collected them like halves of a whole, gluing them together as a single page in my life’s novel. They were tainted on both sides- by a happy start and a heart crushing end. And nowhere, could one find a middle. For life was short and a middle takes time.
But one moment changed the race. It was the moment I met you.
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No stars shot through the sky nor did the world stop to turn. Stars shone as they should and the world was moving like it did, and for the first time, a beginning was just what it should be- a beginning. Without magic. Without excitement. Without dazzling beauty.
You were standing in front of me, staring me in the eye, stretching out your hand to allow drizzling drops to seep in. I couldn’t understand it, not at first.
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Why would someone soak in a drizzle- when one could never get drenched in anything less than a torrential downpour? I heard your voice answer, in a whisper, as tender as the raindrops. ‘Give it time,’ you said, spreading your arms and lifting your face to allow each drop to fall upon your skin, like purposive strokes of a master smith inscribing your story on flesh.
And that’s when it hit me. For the first time, I was at a beginning that didn’t keep pace with my hurried steps and I was, somehow, stepping into the middle, even when there was no end in sight.
It was new. It was novel. It was different. And most of all, it was nice.
I took your hand in mine, spreading out my arms to allow the raindrops to seep deep within me too.
We stood there, a long time. A moment, an hour, a century- I do not know.
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Long enough to understand that love feels chaotic only so long as you keep count- of gestures, of laughter, of tears- or of beginnings and ends.
But I’ve stopped counting, with you- because I can go on and on- with no hope nor fear of an end- in this beautiful middle. Because middles have built cities and planets and human history. And a middle can build US. We just gotta ‘give it time.’
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