“I vow that I will never fall in love ever again,” I say, as the other guys make their vows almost a few seconds before it is the first of January.
My words are lost in the joyful cheering when the clock strikes twelve, but I still mean it.
I’ve never meant anything more in my life.
Love is not real.
It’s the type of thing that you can’t find because it doesn’t really exist.
There are many versions of love, unique to every person. The real thing, however, true love as they call it, is fake. An oxymoron, isn’t it?
Every relationship is imperfect. No one has that type of love where their partner is perfect, where everything that their partner does or says is perfectly beautiful, it doesn’t exist.
Every relationship is filled with pain. Every single one of them. You have to compromise, agree to things you secretly disagree to, do things that you’d rather not, smile when you are dying inside.
You feel lonely, even though you supposedly have someone.
Then you fall out of love.
What’s the point of having a relationship if you’re going to break up anyway?
What’s the point of drunk promises and whispered declarations of love if you consider them irrelevant or ‘said at the heat of the moment’ after a while?
There is no point, none at all.
I’m woken up by the sound of utensils falling on the floor with a loud clang, still ringing across the house.
I get up and go to the kitchen to yell at Xavier for being so clumsy.
Instead, I find a girl behind the counter, trying to make coffee, wearing the shirt that Xavier was wearing yesterday.
She smiles at me sheepishly and says, “Xavier is still asleep, so I thought I’d –”
“Break everything we own? Good idea, you can pay for it too,” I grumble, and the smile immediately disappears from her face, replaced by an outraged expression.
As she’s about to yell at me for what I said, Xavier enters the kitchen and finds us in battle poses.
“What is going on over here?” he says, kissing the girl on the lips.
I groan in disgust and seat myself on the couch.
“Your one-night stand is trying to vandalize the house, so I was merely trying to stop her, that’s all.”
“Baby! See how your roommate is talking to me!”
Xavier doesn’t say anything at all.
“I think maybe you should leave, uh – whatever your name was.”
“I knew you were just like everyone else!”
She picks up the coffee she was trying to make, and throws it on Xavier, drenching him.
I watch this scene in amusement, having seen variations of it.
Sometimes wine, brandy, coffee, tea or water.
Women seem to love throwing liquids at men.
As Xavier finds a dishcloth and wipes the sticky liquid off his face, the girl leaves the apartment, closing the door loudly for good measure.
I start laughing, Xavier looking at me in mock anger, but then starting to laugh too.
Now, Dominic enters the scene, having clearly been woken up by our laughter.
He scratches his hair in confusion.
“What’s so funny?” he asks and then looks at Xavier. He understands immediately and begins to chuckle too.
After the laughter has died down, the boys look at me with concern. Knowing exactly what they’re going to talk about, I leave the room, muttering something about taking a shower.
Today has been exactly a year.
Since I gave up on love.
Since Amara gave up on me.
That day fresh in my mind, I turn the shower on, trying to wash off all those memories.
But the steaming water does little to calm me, it instead aggravates all those memories I have tried so hard to move past.
The first time I looked at the stars and thought that the person on the ground lying next to me was more beautiful.
The first time I saw a movie I hated just to see her face light up in joy watching it.
The first time I kissed someone and fireworks burst in my stomach.
The first time I loved so unconditionally, just to find out that it wasn’t mutual.
I always thought she was the one.
I now know that if it failed with her of all people, it can’t possibly last with anyone else.
“Come on man! It will be fun!” says Dominic, trying to convince me.
“What part of sitting alone at a table with a non-alcoholic drink and watching my friends chat up girls do you think seems fun?” I say, shuddering at the very thought of it.
“When you say it like that, it does sound pretty depressing,” says Xavier, prompting Dominic to hit him hard on the arm.
“Dude! You’re not helping!”
“Guys, just go and have fun. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine,” I say, trying not to cry in front of them.
“You sure?” Xavier asks, looking worried.
I tear my eyes away from his, knowing that he can spot me lying from a mile away, and just nod, not trusting my voice to say anything without breaking.
They pat me on the back and leave, and I hear them whispering about something.
I don’t need to think too much to know what, or rather who, they’re talking about.
I open my first bottle of whiskey for the night, and take a big swig, enjoying the burn down my throat.
Flipping through the channels, I try to find something that can hold my interest.
Finding nothing that meets my standards of good television, I notice that the bottle in my hand is empty. I laugh, not even having realized how fast I’d downed a bottle.
I had prepared for this. I take out my next bottle.
After finishing the bottle, I know that Amara wouldn’t approve of this.
She hated me drinking.
But I hated her.
I loved her. I still love her.
Why didn’t she love me?
Why did I waste my time?
I start to cry uncontrollably, and somehow, that manages to activate my gag reflex.
Running to the bathroom, I’m too late before I puke all over the cold floor.
I dial Xavier and Dominic’s numbers, waiting for them to pick up, but they don’t. I leave voicemails, incoherent ones, but I hope they get the point. My voicemail to Dominic is cut off by my next bout of vomiting, as the phone falls to the floor.
I sit on the slightly wet bathroom floor, my vomit keeping me company.
My face is covered in a mixture of sweat, tears and vomit, and I feel disgusting.
I sit there, leaning against the bathtub, and crying my eyes out until my lips are dry and my throat is sore.
After a seemingly infinite fifteen minutes, I hear footsteps coming towards my room and worried voices calling my name.
They soon reach the door of the bathroom and seeing the mess I’ve made, I’m embarrassed and feel like apologizing for spoiling their night.
Xavier, however, starts cleaning up the vomit, and Dominic comes over to me, and without saying a word, he lifts my arm up and puts it around his shoulder, helping me stand up.
My head spins as I get up, and I hold on to him tighter.
Dominic splashes some water on my face and helps me clean off the vomit.
Xavier hands me a shirt to change into and dumps my shirt in the washing machine.
The smell of the disinfectant on the floor is strong as they lead me to the bed.
They still haven’t said a word to me.
I decide to break the silence.
“I’m sorry for ruining your night. I just had no one to call,” I say, my voice throaty from crying so much.
They look at each other, then look at me.
I’m taken by surprise when they hug me.
“You don’t need to say anything, we get it. We should have known that today was going to be hard for you. We should have stayed. We’re sorry,” says Xavier, his voice muffled by our bodies.
“No, I was the one who asked you guys to leave. It’s my fault,” I say.
“It’s no one’s fault, alright? It’s no one’s fault at all,” says Dominic.
I grin at his words.
It’s no one’s fault.
How I’ve yearned to hear those words.
From the right people.
People grow up and out of love, but it’s no one’s fault.
This is real, true love.
As we hug each other, I now know for sure that this is the love I’ve been searching for.
This is the kind of understanding I may never get with anyone else.
So, I’m going to enjoy it.
I’m going to enjoy their company, their understanding, their love.
This is the real thing.