Locked out of heaven…!
“How come you have never been able to own a heart before?” I asked my friend Jonas as we walk around the park side by side, enjoying nature and taking in the scenery.
“What do you mean I have never owned a heart before…I have been with women; a lot of them to be exact. And I have enjoyed their company as I am sure they have enjoyed mine. It just never culminated into a marriage, that’s it!” he responds defensively.
“No, I didn’t mean you have never been in a relationship or that you haven’t committed to one. What I meant is your relationships are different. You enter them with a disclaimer that you don’t want anything serious, only a good time for as long as you both shall enjoy it. And that’s okay!” I defended myself quickly, but added “don’t you think you are missing out on being able to start a relationship without any explanations or the assumptions of the endgame that neither of you are sure are going to make it to the end of the game?”
“I don’t follow you at all” he dead pans me.
May be I am not following me too. I thought sadly. So I tried to make my friend see where I am coming from with this inquiry.
“Do you remember Elliot?” I continued after he has nodded that he does “well Elliot is a man who is looking for love hoping that all the good times will come in the same package. His relationships always have depth and emotions because he is invested. You on the other, I have never seen you look for that. You only focus on the good time letting your partners know exactly that beforehand. In hindsight, your relationships are always guarded with each of you protecting oneself against hurt while waiting for the impending doom. That’s why I want to know why you have never own a heart before. Aren’t you curious- about the kind of relationship that is?”
He bends down and pick up some rocks throwing them ahead of us as he contemplates my analysis of his relationships. Then after a heartbeat he says “Of course, I have owned a heart.”
“Oh, really! When and whose? Tell me about it?” I urge him as we make our way towards a bench that is empty and sit down with him following suit.
“This conversation would have been good with whiskey or wine at hand.” he teases me as he gazes towards children playing nearby.
“I never knew that I owned a heart until it was too late” he says finally. “Happy now?”
“No, I am not. That’s why I want to know why. Tell me a story that I know is there.”
“Okay. But before that, let me tell you about Joseph.
Joseph met Lucy when we were in high school. I don’t know what it was about her but after laying his eyes on Lucy; he has never been able to look at someone else. Joseph fell hard and never recovered from that.
“So what are trying to tell me?” I asked him softly.
“At the beginning Joseph went all in on Lucy, telling her how he felt and how much he would appreciate to have her in his life. However, Lucy did not feel that way at all. So she didn’t give him the time of the day. He got turned down time after time. But the worst part was seeing her with another guy that she chose instead of him. It was cruel.”
He was silent for some time that I decide to chime in “sometimes you put yourself out there and you get rejected. It happens. While sometimes you put yourself out there and you get to experience magic.”
“Have you ever been rejected before?”
Before I could elaborate he cuts me in “not by a person that you had lukewarm feelings for but by the one who was under your skin; someone who already owned your heart and soul. Somebody who you know you will follow to hell just to be near them. That’s the one I am talking about.”
I remain silent. Have I ever experienced rejection from that person? Deep down I knew I haven’t. But I wanted to know more, so I asked him “is there a difference between the two rejections? Because for me, I thought it was about the pain but not on the type.”
“Well there is. Feelings about the person you have- determines how much the rejection is going to hurt. In the first scenario where you are interested in someone whom you are sure is a good person and you see yourself loving them; then the rejection is painful but it’s a lingering pain. Kind of like, the way a feather caresses you in an uncomfortable way. But when you are rejected by the person whom since you have met has managed to sneak up into your heart and own your soul; the rejection is devastating. You will feel sick to your stomach-and your heart will hurt in a way that is unexplainable. For some time you will not put yourself out there. Your wounds will feel raw every single time.”
My thoughts drifted to Jude after hearing his explanation. She was heartbroken by her then boyfriend- the days that followed afterward were filled with sorrow like somebody has died; a sharp pain that was always constant with her like a lost limb; she closed herself off from the world to nurse a wound that up until now, has not fully healed. While Mary, on the other hand, her heartbreak was mild- she cried and cursed a lot; but after sometime she got back out to the world like she was just knocked down by a gentle breeze while Jude still looks like she was attacked by a tornado.
I had no words. I sat there quietly staring at my hands in my lap understanding why some people chose not to own others’ hearts and why some broken hearts heal while others remain broken for the rest of their lives.
“But Joseph and Lucy are married now. They are so happy together.” I reminded him.
“Well, that’s where it’s even worse.”
“What do you mean?”
“It took Lucy eight years to give Joseph a chance. Yes, they are married and everyone knows that Lucy owns Joseph’s heart; but have you ever wondered if Joseph owns Lucy’s heart?”
Does Joseph own Lucy’s heart? I marveled silently to myself.
Before I could even answer my silent question; Jonas asks me again; “how do you know that you own someone’s heart?”
I bend down to pick up some rocks and threw them across the empty distance before us to occupy myself as I try to find an answer. How do you know that you own someone’s heart?
I agreed the conversation would have been great with a glass of whiskey and not wine.
“I agree that there is no right or wrong way to approach love. But don’t you ever miss it?”
“Miss the idea of owning someone’s heart that I may not even be sure that I own it or not, in the first place? Yes and no!” he replies confidently.
“You see, for me I hate the unknown. I want to be able to control all the variables surrounding me as much as possible. I want to know what to expect. I guess that’s why I hate to gamble because I hold my chips so close to my heart and protect them with everything that I am.”
I like to be in control too. In fact I want to be able to eliminate unpredictability completely in my life- for when you can do this, you can be on top of it. However, that is not how life is, isn’t it? And if we concentrate to live like this, then we will miss out on the beautiful surprises that emerges out of the unknown.
So I told him so and add that “sometimes the unpredictable are what shapes our lives and make life worth living.”
“To some- maybe but to me I want to have as much control as possible. Although I am not on top of everything, always” he finishes his thought.
“Some journeys are better without a map- you go where the current of life takes you. On the way, you might stumble upon some treasure you would have not found had you held on rigidly to a map.”
“Regardless of the beauty of the unknown; what about the ugliness that you will find as a result of not having a map that would have steered you away from the dangers? Don’t you think it’s worth clinging to the known?”
We were at an impasse. Similar to how many of us get to be in the matters of the heart.
“I get your point, but let’s go back to my question; why have you never owned a heart?”
“I did own a heart once. I was young and stupid that I didn’t hold the said heart with care. I didn’t protect it or treasure it. I took it for granted that it will always be mine. Until it wasn’t.”
He looks sad as he stares at the horizon- at the setting orange sun; his jaw ticking while his face is a picture of regret.
“How do you know that you owned her heart?” I ask him softly for I have been thinking about it and couldn’t answer myself whether or not Joseph owns Lucy’s heart.
“When you own someone’s heart- you know. You feel it. The weight of the responsibility to want to protect it engulfs you- and you relish in the obligation; but mostly the joy that you will find owning it will be like your own imagination of heaven.”
I bask in his words as he points out to me that we have to get going. So I rose, and we walk together in silence.
“So, would you ever want to own a heart again?” I ask him after a comfortable silence has stretched between us and I wanted to fill it with delight and not sadness that has plunged us as a result of our immersion into owning hearts.
“I want to own a heart again. May be then, I would lower my guard and allow myself to feel. For if you own a heart and allow it to slip away; every other relationship will pale in comparison; similar to being locked out of the heaven of your imagination. And you know what; I desperately want to be back to that heaven- for I miss it so much.”
We made our way silently the rest of the journey hoping that our situation is temporary and we will not be locked out of heaven forever. Because I couldn’t fathom that for the rest of my life.