The day’s round the corner and fast approaching when I’ll ask you to be my Valentine and, just like you do every year, you’ll smile as you politely reject me and I won’t take it personal because… that’s “Our Thing”. I can take you to the movies but I have to kiss you in the shadow of your gate lest neighbors see us. We can jam together in the crowds at Bayimba, but I’m supposed to pretend I don’t know you if we bump into each other after Pastor Sserunkuma’s stirring sermon the next morning.
You say love is better when it’s in secret but I think you’re just stalling til someone better comes along.
Or maybe I just miss you right now and it’s easier to paint you as cruel in my mind than to admit that I just haven’t inspired the feelings in you that you inspire in me. I want to marry YOU, you beautiful, ramshackle, emotionally-disastrous wonder! I’ve flung myself uncautiously into your most vulnerable parts because I’m not scared of you or the things you think drive people away. You’ve seen me blazed out of my head with my shirt on backwards and drooling like a baby and I’m not ashamed of that because you still called me the next day to see if I’d made it home okay.
That means we’re connected on a fundamental level that transcends humiliation and vulnerability. Some people go their whole lives without being that comfortable with themselves around another human being and realising that has made the world meaningless because you insist on keeping me at arms length just when the warmth and possibility is damn near palpable.
If you don’t love me, why not just say that?
Instead you go silent and and stick to one-word texts as I gnash my teeth on the other end swearing I’m done being in love with you, deleting your numbers and hiding any reminder of the life I’ve dreamed of building with you. Do you have any idea how many new phones I’ve had to get because I foolishly forget that I can just delete your pictures and not have to smash the old phone altogether?? Or maybe it’s just frustration at my absolute inadequacy in getting over you.
I think I’d be fine if you didn’t understand me better than anyone else.
If my father didn’t smile when we went to see him because he knows you make me so much better. If it wasn’t your voice I heard pushing me to hold on just a little longer when my body’s weak and the day disastrous. I’d be fine if you were just a pretty smile and apple-bottom babe, some hollow vessel through which I’m meant to define manhood. But I could fill novels with all the ways I love you and I’m done pretending it’s okay to live without you or as some asterisk on your romantic history.
I love the unseen you just as much as the smile and stylishness.
We were driving through Jinja once and you vehemently insisted that I make a stop at the source of the Nile, that some part of you was on fire and you kicked your shoes off and ran into that life-giving water with freedom and mirth like I’ve never seen before. As you were splashing and dancing in the shallows, singing loudly a song that might embarrass you now, for the first time I knew what I wanted my life to look like.
I love you, and I want more than to just be your secret Valentine. The world is a spinning adventure but our light is fading fast. I’m not wasting another minute of it without making sure you know how unafraid of you I am, and how wildly in love. I’m reapproriating the 4 A’s just for you: Acknlowdegement, which this letter clearly is; Appreciation, which I’m going to find all means of demonstrating; Adoration, which I’m never going to stop showering on you; and lastly Aspiration, in that I’m going to endlessly aspire to be someone worthy of your trust and affection.
I shout it on the hilltops so there’s no mistaking my intentions, so all who hear me know that I’m a man with new purpose.
You can all-out reject me at this point but no more playing kwepena with my heart… in fact why am I still typing?