I didn’t plan this.
When we took our vows, I did not take them with the intention of breaking them. I was a man so in love with my wife, I did everything my wife asked of me. On our wedding day, when she slipped this ring on my finger and I did the same on hers, I was done. That was it. Dating was behind me.
Our love story was to segue ever so smoothly from that point when we exchanged rings to our happily ever after. Isn’t that what we all expect when we get married?
My intention was to love her, cherish her, build a happy home like no other man had ever built. I would be an example to men. I would. I sent my wife flowers on the regular. On Valentine’s day, flowers showed up at her workplace with a card from me. “There are only two times that I want to be with you, now and forever,” the card said one time. “If I know what love is, it is because of you,” the card said another time. Once, I went all in and wrote: “I choose you, and I’ll choose you over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat, I’ll keep choosing you.” She really loved this one. And for three years, this tradition stuck. Even when I had no money, I somehow had money to send her flowers.
I preached to anyone who dared to listen that marriage indeed works. That, yes, people can be happy in marriage. “Look at me. I’m happy. My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me,” I said. I was killing it in this marriage business. And my wife was beside me, killing it with me.
I did not plan for you to be standing under a green umbrella when I was driving home that evening. I never requested that you step onto the road just as the traffic started to move and I started to drive past you. But then, you did. That soft thud of metal hitting flesh, I heard it. Unplanned by me, yet I heard it. And when I stopped and got out in the rain to check whose flesh that belonged to, I found you. After exchanging expletives, you calling me an asshole and me asking you what the fuck, I came to my senses to see what was in front of me. You. Struggling to get up. Bloody forehead. Umbrella gone. Clothes drenching in the rain.
So I did what any man trying to prove that they are not an asshole would do. I helped you up, asked you to get in my car so that I can drive you to the hospital and have you checked out. I watched you from the rearview mirror as you lay on my back seat.
So you fell on my lap, so to speak, that evening. The non-asshole in me could not allow myself to leave you at the hospital. I had to drive you home. On the way home I learned a thing or two about you. Because people who share spaces in cars always have this overwhelming need to share their lives, their days, their opinions. You were now seated on the passenger seat at the front.
You pointed at my hand on the steering wheel.
“Yes,” I said while touching the ring.
“How’s that going for you?”
I remember the pause. I remember thinking about this question for a moment.
You smiled. For the first time since we met, clothes still a little bit wet from the rain, hair messy, bandaged hand and a bandaged forehead, you smiled and said, “Good.”
I didn’t ask for your number or try to stay in touch.
I was married.
I kept using the same road where you and I had collided. There was nothing I could change about that. Three times this road brought us together. Three times I spotted you waiting for a matatu at the stage, three times I stopped, rolled down the window and asked you to get in. Three times you complied. Three times I stopped at the university gates, where you were pursuing a degree in psychology, and watched you, bag in hand, disappear in the swarm of academics.
I don’t know why it happened, but I remember when it happened. I remember that this was the fourth time I was spotting you. It had become a habit to slow down when I approached the stage just to see if you were among the many people waiting for a bus or a matatu. This was the fourth time I was seeing you. You hadn’t seen me yet. You stood next to a guy who was talking to you. I wondered for a minute whether you were together. The thought of somebody else being in your life had not crossed my mind. Now it did. I faltered for a minute wondering whether to stop or drive on. Then you saw me. You waved and smiled. I stopped. You climbed into the passenger seat.
We had become a rhythm, you and me.
We didn’t talk for most of the ride. I wondered what occupied your mind.
Something was different.
“I never asked you, do you have a boyfriend?”
“How is that going for you?”
You paused. You thought about it.
“Good actually,” we said in unison.
You were mine.
To Be Continued.