Everything in Between (Chapter 4)
MOVING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS
I asked my boyfriend to write the previous chapter for me because I had been mulling over where and how I should start but I couldn’t get my hands on it. I had been staring at the first two sentences for so long and I couldn’t find the right words to say next. I just realized that it was the most blurry part of my love story, that in that particular period in my life, my mind was not working as it should. Half the time, I didn’t know what I was doing. The other half, I was figuring out what I just did and why I did that. And so, I entrusted that one to him, the one who was there when I wasn’t there for myself, the one who found me when I was trying to disappear.
He was a faceless person at first. All I knew is that he was somewhere out there, waiting for me even though he didn’t know it at the time. I wondered what his name was and what he looked like, but every time I tried to picture his face, I always saw my ex-boyfriend. Instead of starting anew, I got stuck in the past. Telling myself to move on was way easier than doing it.
But I tried. I even made a list of things to do.
1. Make yourself busy
2. Get a new hobby
3. Go out with friends more
4. Ignore your ex
5. Always think of memories that make you happy
Yes, I busied myself with studying, doing homeworks, and going to the library. On weekends, I was at the orphanage near our home, volunteering to babysit and teach children. Whenever I was free, I went out with my friends, doing group studies, eating lunch, or watching movies. Oh, I ignored my ex all right. The only difficult thing was the last one. You see, there were memories that made me happy and sad at the same time. I couldn’t take full control of my thoughts, and most of the time, they would go where I urged them not to.
Four out of five isn’t bad, I said. I thought I was fine moving on by myself. I thought I was actually moving on. I was perky and outgoing. I laugh a lot. I was normal.
But, what is normal, really? Is laughing a lot after a break-up normal? What about not telling my friends everything that was bugging me, all the things that disturbed my peace of mind, all the things that were proven wrong in a single moment? Does it include pretending all was right in the world, faking smiles, and deceiving everyone, even myself?
When I was with my friends, there would be a constant pause in our conversations where my ex-boyfriend’s name should be inserted. Then, there would be an awkward silence which I pretended not to notice. In my own solitary world, my ex didn’t exist. So I chose to stay there most of the time, savoring moments of solitude, moments when I could block out every painful memory, any stabbing pain in my being, everything that made this world cruel. I didn’t realize that I had been distancing myself from everyone, that in a desperate hope to get away, I built a wall around me. While I was trying to focus on what I needed to do to move on, I ignored everything else. I isolated myself.
I was blinded by my own notion that moving on has a deadline. That if I allowed sadness inside me for a long time, it would stay in my system forever. That after the tears had stopped falling, the pain would finally go away. I was scared that if I didn’t move on fast enough, the past would catch up and I would always be chasing my next love story. A love story that would get away even before it started.
But moving on isn’t moving too fast. It isn’t rushing things through, just to get over the pain sooner than it was meant to be. It is neither running from the past nor running for the future because the past always has a way of haunting people and the future has the knack of being one step ahead. Moving on is letting life take its course. Of letting pain stay as long as it wants because time heals everything anyway.
And moving on isn’t moving away. It isn’t a form of escape. I couldn’t just ignore people and places that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend because, at some point, it would all come rushing back and I wouldn’t be able to avoid it. I didn’t have to turn away from the whole world just because he was there, and he was part of it, and he was living in it. I didn’t have to forget and block out memories because, really, there is no such thing as forgetting. Only acceptance.
In that passage of time, I was always asking myself why I could not see my future boyfriend’s face. But then, I learned that he was there in front of me all along, only I was not looking at him. I was looking too far behind and too far ahead.
That was the reason why that July morning was the first time I ever saw him. Like really saw him. It was also the first time that, after a long agonizing period of searching for the right direction to move on, I saw everyone else – my friends, my classmates, and total strangers who were also moving on from something, one way or another. It was a turning point in my life, and I saw the world in a newfound light.
That time, I told myself to slow down and take it all in. I was on my way to the Math Building, and although it was drizzling and I had no umbrella, I still walked in nonchalance. I belong to the present, I said to myself, because the past is inevitable and the future is uncertain. I have to live this moment and let time take care of everything else.
Moving on is another story in itself. A story in which people, even after knowing that they should start over, get trapped in figuring out how to. It is about finding out that if there is anything that could go wrong in a given moment, it most probably would. That they have to make a lot of mistakes before figuring out how to do something right. It is about accepting that things don’t always happen the way they wanted. It is about learning how to let go, not just of others, but of their own selves, too.
Most importantly, moving on is a story that told me I didn’t have to to everything on my own. I didn’t have to rescue myself single-handedly. I didn’t have to walk alone.
So, I walked with him. Looking back, I realized that all those times, I was moving in two opposite directions in search for my rightful place in the world, that I was moving on because I was trying to find where I truly belong. That time, I found my perfect spot. Beside him.
That certain July morning, he started to make my journey more bearable.