I sometimes wonder what is the bravest thing that I have ever done, but honestly; there really isn’t much that I have. Not for anyone else nor for myself. I don’t think coming out to anyone including my mother or friends or the random twenty people in class was brave for me.
I think the single scariest coming out was to myself because it involved accepting the most painful dreaded reality that I have been trying to escape all my life- that I might actually want to be loved. Just typing out realizations like these and using words like ‘brave’ and ‘love’ takes an extra few seconds because traversing my walls takes time. Built over time. Built over just like dead and destroyed cities are constructed over each other centuries after centuries. Built over like layers of paint hardening over each other, developing cracks with time.
“Never expect romance in real life” she said when I was first asked to read Mills and Boons. I never did either.
A few years into my teens and I was already hyper aware of my feelings being just…. hormonal infatuations, as I called them. Strangely enough it took me years to realize I had been in love with a girl for the three years I was with her.
It took me years to admit to watching more chick flicks than superhero movies and even now if I watch one, I will analyse it to death, wringing every stereotypical sexist, racist, homophobic trope out of it and despair over the lack of consent in kissing scenes till I finally settle down and cry over the happy ending anyway.
I like solitude. I see one of the most chirpiest professors I have in college live with just her cats and her books and an art workshop and admire her ability to be so purely happy all by herself. I see pictures of crazy old single ladies on Humans of New York and think of how serene it would be to live in a house with a stone courtyard and cats and magazines and endless cups of tea, all by myself. I am so proud of one of my closest family members battling her odds to live alone in a big city like Mumbai, no matter how difficult and inconsiderate bosses and landlords and brokers and health personals can be.
I am fiercely proud of them but also secretly afraid that they aren’t as happy and content as I want them to be.
I know my odds and I try my best to understand the effects of being a romantic and a sexual minority. I literally do not personally know any adults above thirty who are in a secure same-sex relationship except through media. I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know what happens now.
I see fear in my mother’s eyes and as much as I hate it, I sometimes understand it.
We are all sometimes afraid of winding up alone.
But it is still so discomfiting for me to accept that I might want to be loved. To be in a relationship.
I like to call it my ghost sometimes. We all have these fantasies of where we might want to be in the future. Mine is always of a small apartment, a cat at my feet and a cup of tea by the window. Free, independent enough to afford basic happiness. But there is always a ghost. An unwillingness to admit that I want someone walking through the door. A gentle ghost. A wanted ghost.
I have never been close to anything that might even remotely resemble something more than a platonic relationship.
I fall in love with people incessantly and keep mentally slapping myself for that.
I don’t mind. I don’t mind loving people. There are too many lovely humans in this world for me to be able to be indifferent to them.
But I mind expecting love.
I so desperately want to be okay with the idea of being alone. I want to know that even if I am one of those people who never encounter anything romantic in their lives, I will still be fine. That I will not be bitter. That I will still revel in being alive.
But wanting love, that shit is scary. It is the bravest coming out. It is the hardest reality. It is the irrational motive. It is the bravest of hopes. And I admire those who possess it now, because most days I don’t. At least for these few seconds I will let myself hope. But not for too long, you know? I am trying my best to be fine with the idea of being alone.
“I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness, and nothing will ever exhaust me” – Elizabeth Gilbert.