(Warning: I’m too depressed to bother about grammatical mistakes.)
Dear friends, in the last week or so I’ve turned from a romantic hero into an almost-maniac. Sometimes, out of too much enthusiasm, out of too much passion, out of too much love, we lose our heads and say and do foolish things, we become bad versions of ourselves, automatons that make mistake after mistake and hurt the people we care about. I plead guilty. Overwhelmed by enthusiasm, thinking I had finally found the complicity of a romantic friendship, I became too insistent with my visits to the clinic and said and did foolish things, and to conclude, the blue-eyed nurse now frowns upon me.
‘I don’t like you,’ she said flatly. ‘At first I thought you were interesting but now I know better.’
The whole weight of the world dropped on my shoulders. The setting was the entrance to her apartment building. Her arms were crossed in a defensive stance. The light kept flickering, going out every few seconds, and she constantly turned and hit the switch, restoring light for another few seconds, before repeating the procedure.
I’m not sure how I ended up there. We had had an awkward parting at the clinic that evening — blame it on a white rose — and I just could not tear myself away from her and followed her to the bus station — she was with a colleague — and took the same bus with her and then a cab, and after an interminable ride through the lazy traffic ended up full of doubts and uncertainties before the same building I had visited a few days before, where I had picked her up for a visit to the museum.
For a long time I hesitated, but finally I called her. After some pleading on the phone, she descended, a veritable block of ice, resolved to freeze all my romantic hopes. I did not want to beg her love, only to see her and talk with her.
‘Out!’ she said, frowning at me.
My body wouldn’t move. I could not tear myself away from her. I clung to her like I clung to hope. She headed for the door and I followed her. Out of cowardice, or maybe out of courage, I stepped toward her and awkwardly tried to kiss her. She pirouetted and then I remember holding her gently, facing her for a few moments, during which she hesitated, and then trying again, just as clumsily. I knew it was a terrible mistake, something that would give her the excuse to get rid of me for good. There was no passion in it. The desperate act of a desperate boy. She turned her head, avoiding me, and tore herself away from me and headed for the door.
‘Out!’ she cried.
‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry!’ I implored her.
‘Show that you’re sorry and go!’
I wish I had the strength. Seeing I did not leave, she tried to walk by me toward the elevator, but I stepped in front of her, preventing her, begging her to wait a bit more. Another mistake, I knew, another desperate act. But home awaited me loneliness and despair, regret, remorse, the sound of silence after the music of her voice, the coldness of isolation after the warmth of her presence, the cancer precipice.
‘If you don’t leave I will,’ she said.
She opened the door and ran into the biting coldness of the night, dressed but lightly. I rushed out after her, but she was gone, hidden in a shop or some other place. Slapped hard by fate, I slunk away crying, wanting nothing more than for the ground to gape open and swallow me.
Ever since, I’ve spent harrowing days in the gallows of solitude, burning with shame. I tried to remedy the situation. After sending emails of apology, I summoned up my courage and visited the clinic again. I wanted to talk to her, to apologize, to try to explain that what I did I did out of weakness and foolishness, not out of meanness, that I repented and was willing to do anything to make amends.
Her eyes were frosty blue.
‘You’re a patient and that’s it,’ she said. ‘Here’s your envelope with your lab tests. Go home.’
I insisted. I scared her with my insistence, with my awkward apologies, with my pleas for mercy. Tuesday evening, after she walked me out, I waited for her outside on a little bench. It was night. When she came out I got up.
‘Can I talk with you?’ I begged her.
‘Leave me alone or I’ll call the police!’
Imagine! The boy with a hat thrown behind bars! I ran after her. She hurried away and I realized she was scared and I’d better stop. I slunk home veritably dejected.
The same urge for understanding, the same need to make peace, sent me again to the clinic Friday evening. Bad mistake. I pleaded, I insisted, I tried to talk with her.
‘Nothing has happened between us. Go home,’ she said.
As if I had not let myself be pricked about ten times just to get the chance to be around her. As if we had not been together on two quasi dates. As if we had not wandered through the park at night for hours. As if she had not eaten all those chocolates I had given her. As if, on the balustrade of the natural history museum, I had not tickled her nose tip with a strand of hair. As if afterwards I had not bought her three red roses, which she had put in a square, transparent vase.
‘Go home or I’ll call the police,’ she threatened.
Her voice was formal, devoid of pity, sympathy, or recognition She did not look into my eyes. She kept her eyes on her computer.
‘Fine, call the police,’ I said.
She did. Fifteen minutes later, a policeman appeared from the station across the road. A polite conversation followed, and then I understood that lingering there was of no use.
‘If this is what you think I deserve, I’ll leave,’ I said, smiling at her sadly.
She did not say anything.
I sought solace on the little bench, and I took my head in my hands and stared at the pavement and cried a little. Not for love. I had realized by then that it would never work between us, that we are too different. She’s a deeply religious girl who fasts and goes to church, and has many firm notions and convictions, and believes strongly in the afterlife. For my part, art is my religion. We are not on the same frequency. She certainly enjoyed the attention I had offered her, but I don’t believe she felt drawn to me. As for my part, I realize that my ‘love’ for her was but a cry for help, a plea for warmth and understanding.
‘I cannot help you and I don’t know what advice to give you,’ she had wrote to me. ‘You need specialized help.’
I’m in a sorry state. I can’t eat, I can’t write (I struggled to write this), I can’t think. I’m not sure what’s going on with me. It’s not heartbreak. It’s despair at my own shortcomings. I feel a gargantuan disappointment with myself. I realize how vain and empty my life is, how wrong everything I try to do turns out, how I tarnish what I touch, how everything that can go wrong goes wrong.
I stand here at my desk gazing through the window at two old fir trees, big and stately, one taller and broader than the other, so that they look like a couple, a faithful couple that has been together through scorching summers and harsh winters, who have been bent almost double by violent winds and weighted down by the burden of snow, and yet who have endured, still standing close together, and I am keenly aware of my loneliness, of the void that has been deepening in me for a long time, and whose presence I fear I can not tolerate for long. The horizon looks bleak. I do not know what the future holds, but an impending feeling of calamity slowly creeps over me.