In my naïvety, I tend to think that everything will be fine once my love and I are reunited. During lonely moments I long for the comfort he gives me, missing the boundless intimacy we share. His love and hugs protect me from the occasional wave of darkness that sweeps over me.
Then we’re finally together – and out of the blue, problems kick in.
New Year’s Eve almost ends in a disaster. We spend the evening in the apartment of an acquaintance in Lucerne, a friend of my flatmate’s. We’re a group of thirteen – some are friends dear to my heart, but the majority are strangers. Upon introducing each other, I quickly get the feeling that we’re not on the same wavelength.
I know I’m spoilt. I got used to be around people that are very attentive and mindful. Thoughtful souls who cook vegan meals when I’m invited and speak English instead of German or Swiss German when my love is present. I have no idea how I can be so lucky, but I guess some blessing after my horrible exchange year is only fair.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t that considerate. It’s unrealistic to expect that. When you’re different, you have to adapt to the norm, not vice versa. It sucks, but that’s life, and we have to deal with it.
So here we are, at this party full of people who aren’t willing to speak in a foreign language so my love would be able to participate in the conversation as well. I don’t judge them, I get it: it’s uncomfortable to speak in a language you’re not fluent in. It’s troublesome and people often feel embarrassed. But on the other hand, my love’s mood understandably sinks – and mine with his.
I stay with him. We’re not part of the group, sitting isolated in a corner. I miss the warm comfort of our Thursday group that brings out the lighthearted and bubbly side of me. The dynamics here is entirely different.
As if wasn’t bad enough, my love knows exactly what’s going in my mind: You wished you could join the others, right? Yes. Yes, I wished I could roam around the room and get involved in conversations. I can hardly deny that I feel drawn to the laughter and banter, but I emphasise that it means much more to me that he’s here with me. It really does.
(The next day he’d tell me “I felt horrible. I thought you wished I wasn’t here so you wouldn’t have a burden to deal with” and my heart almost breaks. Never. Maybe I’d have had more fun without him that night, only responsible for my own well-being. But I’d never ever want him to be away when we have the rare chance to be together.)
I rummage through my mind, desperately trying to think of a way to solve the situation. I offer him to leave and for a moment it looks as if he’d say yes. He looks tempted and I kinda hope he’d give in. He’s not the only one who wants to get out of this distressing mess.
But he declines bravely, unwilling to run away from a difficult situation. We stay, and eventually, it gets better.
C, one of the very thoughtful and kind people who I was blessed to meet in the last months, talks to my love for a while; seeing them together makes me very happy. Later, C’s girlfriend joins us. She struggles a bit with English because she hasn’t spoken it for ages, but tries her best nonetheless. Her effort is much appreciated.
Later that night my eyes wander through the room, observing the people around us. The girl I envied because she had (probably fleeting) male company while I was feeling horribly lonely is alone tonight. On the sofa next to us lie two drunk singles, having found someone who gives them attention for the night. We’re not the only couple, but looking at the others, I’m reminded of the cold and unloving relationship I had with my ex (though I don’t want to judge – just because they don’t seem loving doesn’t mean that they aren’t. I don’t know them).
My heart swells with gratitude. I realise that what my love and I have is lasting and precious. He might not always be here when I’m feeling lonely and at times, language barriers and introversion make social situations together rather stressful than fun. But we have us and make each other happy. And that is what counts.