They say there’s a beauty in symmetry – where it starts is where it should end. We see this manifested in many ways: people going back to their birthplaces to spend their final years; salmon going back upstream to die; couples going back to the origins of their love in the hope of reigniting a tired romance but more often than not failing. The only commonality in all these is death. Why then is symmetry beautiful when it means an end? It is painful and poignant, and I sincerely hope that you never experience its grim reality.
London was for me the origin of symmetry. I was a Masters student there, she was a Law student at University of Pennsylvania. We’d been best friends for the last 8 years, and for every one of those years I had cowardly hidden my affections for her. She was beautiful, she was intelligent, she was…her. What chance did I have? We each went our separate ways around the world, each plunging into our personal romantic catastrophes, emerging bruised but wiser for the wear. We had talked from time to time in a platonic capacity, typically for her stoic instrumentality to assuage my frenzied emotionality in the wreck of my relationships. I never had the opportunity to return the favor – she was a strong girl. She was the boy, I was the girl, and she was without hyperbole the most important person to me in the world.
The ghost of 2013 faded into an emergent 2014, and I decided that this was it: this was my last chance to stand up for what I wanted. In London, I tried to muster up the courage to spell my emotions one drunken night. In a tiny dorm room, it was just me and her. She took the initiative out of my hands and she kissed me. In reality, it was probably just another kiss between a boy and a girl in a filthy room, just one of the many occurring simultaneously throughout the city. To me, it was a moment of unrestrained elation and euphoria. I don’t think I will ever forget the sheer cartharsis of that singular second – 8 years of friendship compressed into a single, magical moment.
Her voice, so long forcibly tucked away in the recesses of my heart, was now the soundtrack of my spring. I flew over to Philadelphia, where I spent most of my days were spent waiting in her little room for her return from school, and never once did I mind. I had spent 8 years waiting, what was a couple of hours? Anyhow, the moment of her return was well worth the wait: her voice would echo around, soaring above our tiny space and into the immensity of the moment. There was an elephant in the room though. I was bonded to an organisation in Singapore, and she had found a job in London, an incredible opportunity was too good to pass up. This was never far from my mind. Yet, my heart was wreathed in a determined optimism. Living her, breathing her…the moment was one of sheer bliss. In my oblivion, I thought she shared my happiness too.
I returned to London, with promises to see her in summer, and it was with anticipation that I started a countdown calendar to the day. But it was at this point that I saw the first seeds of doubt. Whatsapp, that essential but so frustratingly unsatisfying tool, was how we communicated, and I began noticing the tiniest things. She’d give curt replies, be absent for long periods of times, the small little things that are typically inconsequential in retrospect, but of gravity in the here and now. I worried, and with a Pandorean perversity I sought to tease out the problem. One night, again, she took the initiative and dropped the bombshell. She wasn’t happy, and that was that. It was now a choice between salvaging a friendship, or going all in on romance. Was it a feeling of completeness that I needed, or was it simply the feeling of not being empty? There were so many things I wanted to tell her that might have saddened her with my selfishness to love; yet, to love is to make sure the special one never gets hurt. I shut these emotions up and let them hurt me instead.
They say there’s a beauty in symmetry. London is where it started, but I refuse to let it be where it ends. I stand here with a ticket to Philadelphia in my pocket, bereft of all but a tiny glimmer of hope that this can work. I have no idea what is going to happen, but I hope you will wish me the very best of luck.