1/6 of 16.
We saw a lot of movies and tv shows together. It was kinda our thing.
We’d set date nights/mornings. Skipping school, or calling in for work — depending on time zones, but still, we managed. Getting on Skype at the same time, and counting down from 3.. 2.. 1.. press play. You used to alway make me count cause you liked hearing my voice, even if just numbers. I guess distance does that — makes you value the small things.
You would crinkle your nose at me and smile, although annoyed, you always smiled because you would catch me not paying attention to the movie.
I couldn’t help it. I wanted to watch you — even if the screen didn’t capture you fully. I would sit and just watch you for hours on end — watching whatever we had on.
But you would urge me to pay attention, so that you could launch your million questions at me when you didn’t understand something. We mostly watched stuff in English — you wanted to improve your proficiency in my mother tongue.
Looking back, you’ve come so far and I’m so proud of you. When we first met, we could hardly communicate. Often misunderstanding one another, and having to navigate arguments with a light heart. Now you’re taking a master’s in my language, and we hardly speak at all.
We used to have this habit, combining English with Greek in order to memorize words and meanings easier — to learn each other better. Language is really fascinating that way. When you unlock the words important to a culture, it’s so helpful in understanding someone.
My favourite word in Greek is μεράκι/meraki. It is a very difficult word to describe in English, but essentially it means to put all your love, passion, and soul into your work; whatever it is you do. After learning this, I came to understand you and your ways much better. You are an artist, through and through, in everything that you do — I even learned to serve your plate in a precise manner when it came to food. You always said, “the eyes must feast before the stomach.” Everything to you was art, and so that’s what you became to me; a masterpiece. And I learned to live my life with every ounce of μεράκι my soul contained. Every emotion I ever felt was somehow magnified with you; both good and bad.
And so you came to learn my meaning for the word beautiful. It was more than just a physical aspect. It was heart deep. I tried very hard to steer away from compliments based solely off looks when it came to you. I wanted to compliment your mind and heart; and so I reserved the word beautiful for this. My way of saying I love you. You told me there was no word like this in Greek; a combination of physical, emotional, and mental beauty; a word that was more a feeling than an actual description. I haven’t used this word for anyone else since.
We had many back and forth words like this. Learning and growing with each other. Implementing newly found ideas into our own lives. Our respective cultures combining and shifting and changing; you challenged me in ways that delighted my curious mind. Not only in language, but in everything. Religion, love, philosophy, family — we spent so much time learning the corners of each other’s mind, all the secrets of our hearts. Though physically separated, I don’t think I’ve ever been that emotionally and mentally connected with someone.
That’s the conundrum of distance. The physical separation stimulates emotional bonding. In many ways, a long distance relation is much more emotionally intensified than a non-long distance relationship. I noticed this over the many years we spent together by observing others. Friends and family, I would watch how they would interact with their loved ones in person. I watched how some of my friends in long-term relationships didn’t understand their partners at all — not like I knew you, and so I both loved and hated distance, just as I have come to feel about you, too. The irony.
“Come here.” How many times we would repeat this to each other. Through text, email, letters, over the phone — these words are wired in my mind like unbreakable neuron paths.
6 years ago you said something to me; something I’ll never forget. We had just finished my favourite movie; Wicker Park. You were tired, I could tell. You were slurring your English together, and at times speaking to me completely in Greek. But you continued to battle heavy eyelids to stay up and talk to me.
“Ade re moro mou, come + here = home. Pay attention to me se parakalo.. home. So when I’m tired I can use one word instead of two.”
I remember being absolutely dumbfounded and stunned by your created word for our phrase. “Home.” And it was in that moment, that I learned home, like beautiful, was more a feeling than a physical attribute. And it changed the word’s entire meaning for me from then on.
You became home to me — And I, you.
I, overwhelmed, asked you to be officially mine shortly afterwards. The date: 1/6. Just another insignificant coincidence to my significant love for the number 16.
Maybe you don’t remember, but I do. It marked the beginning of a remarkable and beautiful adventure for my life.
Maybe we didn’t last — but we gave it one hell of a shot. We loved, and we lost — but my god, we experienced. And looking back on it all, without bitterness or hate towards you any longer, I’m so grateful for it all.
I would have given — done — anything for you. And I used to hate myself for it. I hated that you weren’t ready to be with me openly and fully like I was with you. I hated you so long for it. But I learned through the pain, too — you just can’t force someone to be ready, and you shouldn’t have to. No matter how much you love someone, if they aren’t ready, you have to walk away — because there is better, there will be a love that is ready.
In spite of that, all of the heartbreak and all of the happiness, it was worth it. I have come to learn our relationship, like happiness, was never about the destination, but more so about the journey. And I’m so incredibly thankful for it now.
For all the new horizons my heart shared with yours.
XVI Δlways, in this lifetime, and the next.