“Zahir means, in Arabic, visible, present, unable to go unnoticed. Someone or something that, once it has established a connection, ends up inhabiting our thoughts little by little, up to the point there is nothing else we can concentrate on. And that can be considered sanctity, or folly”
– Paulo Coelho, The Zahir
I have been swinging between maintaining a friendly relationship with French Village Boy and avoiding contact with him. Partly because I wanted him to look for me and partly because I needed to put space, mostly mental, between us. The other day he sent me a picture of a dawn, beautiful and pink, very romantic. The irrational side of me thought he was thinking of me as he was talking a walk at dawn, whereas the more rational side of me thought it’s just a picture followed by the question: who was he awake with, to watch sunrise?
The thing is, as much as I try to put space between us, something about him keeps coming back. In an attempt to look for change (the irrational kind of change – move move move as long as moving keeps you from staying still) I have applied for a job in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and got an interview. As I applied for it my mind was split into two: on the one side I felt empowered as I may be embarking on a journey with no return, on the other I am terrified because I may be spiraling down a journey with no return.
Same journey with no return, different feelings about it.
In order to prepare for the interview, which I’m going to do as best I can regardless of whether I will accept the job, I have asked on the expat facebook group of the city where I’m living if any French native speaker would be willing to have lunch with me and give me a mock interview. An hour later I got a response and today I had lunch with her. As it turns out she comes from a small French island in what the French (oh, the French) call the territoires d’outre mer. Since French Village Boy’s sister worked as a midwife on said island I mentioned her. It goes without saying, they know each other.
Now, as I apply for a job in the literal middle of nowhere and I find someone from an equally obscure middle of nowhere willing to help me, I come across the only person in the whole of the country that has been his sister’s friend for 10 years. I do try to move on, but somehow life keeps bouncing him back to me.
I think that there’s a lesson to learn here. I’m not sure what it is, and I’m afraid to say out loud that the lesson I need to learn is about closure. But the truth is that life keeps throwing hints about him, his village and his family members to me, not because it’s pushing me towards him, but because it’s trying to make me come to terms that whatever there was, or wasn’t, is over.
It’s over. Whatever there was or wasn’t is over.
And this bitch of a life keeps putting glimpses of him in front of me as if it was saying “you can’t sweep him under the rug, you have to say the words out loud. That’s the only way you have to move on”.
But the truth is… maybe I don’t want to move on. All this pain has taught me so much, it has put on my way people who live half way across the world who recognized my pain as their own (thank you Kostas!) and without knowing me are offering me their support and their love. This pain has brought closer to me friends who were already close but whose friendship had never been tested. Likewise, it has pushed away friends who proclaimed their undying friendship but then weren’t able to handle a heartbreak. This pain has opened a door onto myself and I slowly come out of it stronger and more self aware.
This pain is in a way comforting, and while I can say out loud that between me and French Village Boy there will never be love, I am unwilling to let go of the feeling that there may be.