Open-Heart Surgery

Words always seem to arrange themselves in the wrong way when it comes to speaking the truth about love. Recollecting memories of the very first time I fell for someone hurts still. I don’t believe in the death of such feelings.

I remember meeting him on a Saturday in December. It was snowing lightly, which rarely occurs where I live —but I would discover later on that that was not the case for his hometown. I was chatting with my friends about some party we never made it to, when his voice intruded on my mind’s slumber like a cold water jet in the middle of a hot shower. He sent me a voice message: “I like Chopin, and you’ve done this piece justice,” referring to a video I had posted on social media earlier that morning of me playing the piano. His profile was not as appealing. All I could glean was that he played the guitar, decently.

Somehow, a never ending discussion aroused from that innocent comment. We talked about whatever we could have possibly imagined, and by the time I woke up from that daydream several hours had passed. I was tired, my friends were waiting for me to say something about that party. No, I wasn’t going to let that be another Saturday night.

I hesitated. I felt like I could have burned the roots of what was going to grow into a beautiful love story with one single question. I waited a few minutes, fighting against my urge to talk to him in person and to look at each other in the eyes, until I couldn’t resist speaking my mind: “So what are we doing tonight? Pick me up at 9?”. He actually showed up.

He was tall and muscular. His huskiness made me look quite petite and short, albeit I was wearing heels. His hair was so blonde, and I had just dyed mine black for the fifth time a few days back. Apart from the intimidating appearance, I could spot something unfamiliar in his look from the very first sight, and he didn’t make me wait too long to confirm my suspicion: he was half British.

The date was amazing...but I still wonder if we might have just been blinded by the lights: in fact Christmas was just two weeks away. Maybe it was because of the illuminations, the trees, the ornaments, the thin ice layer on the ground and the crisp cold air of a winter night: would he have kissed me if I wasn’t shivering so hard that he had to hold me for a while? Because of that, he took me to a fancy bar in the city center, yet I was so cold that I chose to have a hot chocolate in the middle of a dancing crowd holding mojitos and beers. I surely stood out.

He was so intelligent that I wanted to remain silent and listen to his thoughts on politics, religion and ethics, even though it was well-past midnight and I felt exhausted. By that time, we had walked for miles. My tendency to overshare and my talkativeness were overshadowed by his intellect. The passion and strength in his voice were palpable every time I brought up any topic dear to him, and that’s when I knew I was seriously going to fall for that man.

Time passed by, and soon after my family figured out that I was in love. It wasn’t hard to tell: I am quiet, I like writing poetry and listening to loud indie music. The perpetual laughter they heard coming from my bedroom could only mean one thing. After meeting him on Christmas Eve my mother observed: “you’ve never been this happy your whole life, but you don’t need a man to be.” I wish I had taken her words seriously back then.

It has been a while, but I do not feel that enough water has passed under the bridge just yet. When we separated, for some time I stood still. I sat on my bed in the dark, waiting for him to call, to knock at my door and tell me he was sorry for hurting my feelings. I expected him to show up with a bouquet of those flowers he grew in his garden, perhaps the ones I used to look at as it was covered with snow, every Sunday night when we had dinner on his sofa by the fire place. How naive was I?

Intimacy is not something easily shared, and I believe there is nothing more intimate than being your true self with no shame or secrets to keep. Probably that was the most precious gift we shared. I like to think of myself as a deeply loving person, one major heartbreak will not keep me from opening my heart to someone else in the future. But I also realize it takes a specific kind of surgery to suture the wounds of the heart, and I’m waiting for a skilled surgeon to come.

This piece earned me the 3rd place at Lewis College of Sciences and Letters 56th Annual Writing contest organized by the Illinois Institute of Technlogy in Spring 2021.