Friday's are mine (and probably the rest of humanity's) favourite day of the week. I wasn't feeling the Friday excitement today though. The weather was grey, gloomy and depressing and I had just had a really upsetting conversation with a friend, which had me feel foolish, naïve and more than a little pathetic. I was looking forward to just going home, drinking hot chocolate and curling up underneath the blankets, when my phone vibrated.
The screen flashed with the message: "Hey idiot, dinner and drinks at Las Iguanas today?" The text was from Goldman and Sachs, a pet name I had for friend who had studied economics with me at Warwick. He was arrogant, infuriating and egotistical but at the same time he was also witty, smart and very engaging. We shared a lot of the same interests and I quite enjoyed our verbal duels whenever we meet. I should also mention at this point that he was devilishly sexy. What can I say? I have a thing for guys with dimples.
As the night progressed I could feel my worries and annoyance disappearing. After an excellent dinner and more than a few drinks he insisted on dropping me home. I had just said goodbye and was about to enter my apartment block, when he grabbed my hand and turned me around. "I just wanted you to let you know that you're beautiful."
I should probably interrupt the story at this point to let you know that friend here was quite a heartbreaker. I am no idiot, I am very aware of the fact that for most guys, a girl's beauty on any one night is directly proportional to the number of drinks that he has had. I would be lying though if I said that I was completely indifferent to him. In fact it was just the opposite. I remembered clearly what his lips tasted like, having become all too familiar with them after consuming copious amounts of alcohol and kissing him as if my life depended upon it in the alley behind bar, on his birthday.
I was mortified right after but thankfully we never talked about it again. I sure as hell didn't want a repeat performance.
"Funny", I said after making a face at him. "But this is where you leave pal, your not coming up."
"No I mean it. Your eyes…god do you have any idea how beautiful they are? When you're excited about something its like a switch goes on somewhere inside and they shine and sparkle like nothing I have seen before. There is so much warmth and kindness in them. You genuinely seem to care, about people you don't even know and weirdly even about people who don't even like you."
"What do you…I mean I am not…I….", there are very few moments in my life that I have been rendered speechless. This is not something that I had foreseen happening, ever.
"Don't think I don't notice the vulnerability behind that sharp tongue. You've been hurt and you're still hurting…I get it but when you are ready I'd really like the chance to get to know you."
With that he just turned around and walked away. I stood staring at his back pretty much until he turned the corner of the street and vanished into the night.
That night I struggled to go to sleep. After trying and failing for three hours I finally gave up.
In the depths of drawer, buried underneath everything inside was a small Pandora jewellery box. After avoiding it for almost one year, against my every instinct not to, I opened it.
Inside was a small thermocol heart, with the words, "for the girl who has mine", scrawled across it. The thermocol was chipping and yellowed. A small rather inconspicuous keepsake and just by looking at it after all this time I felt winded and weak kneed.
Memory is a funny thing. Most days I am hard pressed to remember what I had for breakfast but I can remember that night from almost four years ago like it happened yesterday. I remember the way he kissed me, slowly and gently as if he was savouring every little bit of contact. I remember laughing against his lips when he tired and failed repeatedly to open my bra. I remember the feelings of his hands running down my back pulling me closer and closer to him. I remember the fire that started at the pit of my belly when his skin made contact with mine. I remember kissing every inch of skin and never ever wanting to stop. I remember lying tangled in each other afterward on the bed against the window as the moonlight streamed in. I remember feeling…not happy but content as if I could deal with anything now, as if nothing bad could ever touch me again.
That is the night that he gave me the silly heart. Sight, sound, smell, taste, very word that was said and words that were left unsaid are pretty much burned into my memory as if with a hot iron.
It's funny how I now run from a memory that once gave me so much peace. Maybe it because of what came after: the lying, the insecurity and the complete neglect, the desperation to be noticed, the desperation to matter. Breaking up in a fit of rage hoping that he would finally notice you, would talk to you again like he used to, get a shock to his system and finally understand wouldn't settle anymore for his casual indifference only to figure out that he was already texting a new girl four weeks later. Well I guess waiting one week for every year spent together is enough for most people.
After the shock followed the anger and fury so horrible that suddenly I was doing and saying that I never thought I would. I became so vicious that I couldn't even recognize myself. The worst part though is was when I ran out of fury and spite, that's when the self-loathing and finally depression set in. Suddenly it had been two months and I had spiralled so much out of control and indulged in so much self-destructive behaviour that my friends finally convinced me to get some help.
For a time it helped. Talking helped, taking the medication definitely helped. I would cry once a week in a stranger's office but at least that helped me become more functional for the rest of the week. But I was tired of feeling sad. I was tried of feeling empty. I needed to do something drastic that would help get better faster.
So I started to erase all traces of him from my life. I decided to pretend that he had never existed. I burned all the letters and deleted all the emails and photos. Returned all his gifts. But no matter how much I tried, no matter how many times I was told that I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship, no matter how many new people I met, I just couldn't throw away the little thermocol heart.
So Instead I locked it away. I shut out all the memories and feelings. It was exhausting to work to through all my issues so I simply stowed them away with the box. I stopped going to therapy and I stopped the medication Life went on. I think one thing that this experience taught me is that no matter what life always goes on even if your essentially just managing to hold yourself together with glue and tape.
But tonight I had opened the Pandora box. Like the Pandora from the Greek myth I had known that I would let out pain and sorrow and despair and grief. But I had forgotten that along with all the evil that was in Pandora's box there had also been hope. Tonight for the first time in years I had let out hope