You do the sleepovers. You meet the families, the best friends. You get invited to the weddings, the Festive dinners, road trips to Goa or to visit the siblings. You’ve been in their house. You know the way they take their coffee, all their favorite films, the times they’ve eaten in a day, and how they articulate their words. And you’ve never had to ask. You know their finest strengths and lowest weaknesses, where they stash their cash, what’s in their will, and the time they were born.
They tell you everything. Who they’ve hurt and who’s hurt them. What they see when they look in the mirror. How many kids they’d like to have and what they’d name them. The things that make them tick and how they are in bed. Their passions. You talk about the past and the future, the wills and will nots. Dreams, hopes, wishes. Even things they don’t really want to talk about.
You’ll lend them money for coffee and cigarettes because the bank’s closed and they don’t have their ATM card. You lose sleep and call out of work when they lose their grandfather. Celebrate their new pursuits, pay raises, and promotions. You surprise them with short eats, lunches, cakes and cards you can’t remember you paid for, even though you know they won’t always remember your birthdays or when you’ve skipped lunch.
You’ll look for apartments together. Read each other’s birth charts. Sleep in the same bed, legs and arms intertwined. Your lips might even meet from time to time. They’ll tell you they love you. They’ll call you their wife and make pacts with you to bare their children by the time you’re both old enough. Inside jokes that you laugh about even four years later. They’ll give you their hoodies, let you sleep in their boxers, and cook you breakfast in the morning.
Your memories are never bitter, never stale, but always remembered. Appreciated. You laugh with them, cry, scream, and rant with them. And one day you actually realize you love one of them. But they aren’t yours to love.
They pick you up and put you down, sometimes for months or maybe years while they meet the girl that isn’t good for them. It’s like looking at a painting, a frame that would fit perfectly above their mantle-piece. You never really make it off the shelf. Because they carry you around, get you to the register, ring you up and reconsider. It’s like being on layaway.
You can ask me. I was not designed for the ‘dating’ scene. I am the girl whom everyone wants to marry, but no one actually dates. In a word, bittersweet. It is the highest compliment, but perhaps the most disheartening thing you’ll ever feel.
It makes you wonder what it is about you that not just him or the next guy, but all of them, love but cannot seem to keep. You, at your purest. Your most refined. Never fully embraced. And then, neglected.
Sometimes it hurts like hell. But then you’re driving home on a Monday morning, listening to a “All of Me” and that reminds you of one of your almost husbands. You’re in season and suddenly, it’s therapeutic. It’s like drinking a strong cup of coffee that warms your insides.
At the end of the day, it’s like catharsis. Because there is no ring to return or settlements to sign. No angry words or bad memories to feel guilty for. There’s just you, leaving impact—imprints, on everyone’s troubled lives.
It’s like, being the best version of you 365 days of every year. And maybe one of those, you’ll make it home, in the cart and off the shelf. But today, you realize you wouldn’t want it any other way.