I usually don’t want to talk about our beginning. It’s the only black spot in our white story but we wouldn’t have been here without our beginning. If we run from our beginning, the map of our now and the tomorrow to come would make no sense. So just as I talk about our now with a heart of gratitude, I’ve learned to accept our beginning for what it is—knowing it could have been better and still surrendering to it so we can make a better future.
Portia had a boyfriend she said she loved with all her heart. Because of that, she said no to me. I tried. I exhausted all avenues but she still said no to me. I moved on. The kind of moving on you do with your eyes behind you hoping things will change so you could turn back and take what you left behind. Two, three months later nothing changed. Four five months later, it was still the same. I accepted defeat and fell in love with a girl whose iron was already hot and waiting for me to strike it.
Not too long after I’d started dating this new girl, Portia appeared out of nowhere giving me hopes and love vibes. We had the opportunity to go on a date twice. It was the third time that emotions got us drowned. We kissed on an empty road. The kiss lasted so long as if both of us had been starved for so long. It was an empty street but anyone could walk in on us and see our lips stuck in each other’s lips. So she said, “Take me home or she’s there?” I said, “No she’s not but she has this attitude of visiting without pre-informing me.”
So we ended up at her place and all night we couldn’t stop kissing each other. I asked her, “So who are we now?” She answered, “I don’t know. I still have my boyfriend and you still have your girlfriend so who could we be?” We pretended what we were didn’t have a name just so we could escape from the shame of who we had become. We were friends with benefits—everything showed but we refused to call it that.
This continued for several months. During those months, what existed between me and my girlfriend suffered. We didn’t talk like we used to. We didn’t meet like we used to. Texting each other became a difficult chore I couldn’t do for more than five minutes. She got it that I’ve changed but she didn’t understand that there was another woman involved. On the other hand, Portia kept waxing strong with her boyfriend. Nothing changed—well the only change was that I was hiding in the shadows to pounce on Portia anytime he wasn’t looking.
Portia called me one dawn, around 1am. She asked me, “Is she there with you?” I answered, “Not really. She came around but left early.” An hour later, I heard a knock on my door. “Who is that?” I asked. She said, “It’s me, please let me in.”
I opened the door, and she walked past me to lie on the bed. When I joined her in bed, she said, “I caught him cheating. The sad thing is, he didn’t cheat on me with another girl. I’m the girl he’s cheating with on another girl. They dated for two years before I came into the picture. He has been cheating on his girlfriend with me, just as you’re also cheating on your girlfriend with me. It looks like I’m the girl everyone chooses to cheat with when they want to.”
She wasn’t hurt or crying about what she just found out. She looked very ok and indifferent like nothing has happened to her. Some few minutes later, she was far gone and snoring gently by my side. How I wished my girlfriend would also walk in on us and catch me cheating so she would leave me alone but wishes are just wishes. They don’t come true when you want them to.
The next morning, she said, “I’m available. If you really want us to be together for good and not for the fun of it, this is the time. I’m not going to remain the girl you cheat with so decide.”
I thought about it. I really did but the question was how could I let my girlfriend go without hurting her feelings? I faced her one-on-one and told her the truth; “You could see things are not the way they used to be, that’s because my mind is not here. Can we take a break so I could find myself and some answers?”
That was the end of us. We never returned from the break, instead, all attention was given to the new freedom I’d found with Portia and that was when I realized why I wanted her so much.
Portia is full of fun. You’ll never have a dull moment with her. You could take her to a funeral and she’ll turn it to a party just by the snap of her finger. That’s exactly how I loved my women. If I’m going to spend the rest of my life with someone, then I better spend it with the one who understands what happiness means and can turn things around when life gets sour.
We were young. She was twenty-three and I was twenty-three too. We did all the crazier things we could in the name of having fun. We went to the club and got drunk until we could not find our way home. We had sex in a public washroom at one late night. We sat behind a trotro one night and kissed till we got to where we had to alight. Love was a spontaneous kind of thing for us. I only had to bring an idea, no matter how crazy it sounded, she’ll just say, “It sounds like fun. Let’s do it.”
But youthful exuberance can be poisonous if not handled with care.
One day at a pool party, she dived into the pool and didn’t return. I didn’t see her dived in but a guy was watching and realized she had been under the water for far too long than normal so he dived in, only to return with the lifeless body of Portia. I stood there shocked and motionless as if my legs were magnetized to the ground.
I watched them press her chest several times but she didn’t respond. Everyone at the pool came gathering around her body and everyone’s voice was heard making a suggestion on what ought to be done to shock her lifeless body back to life. A voice screamed, “Put your mouth to her lips and nose and blow air inside her!” The guy did. Several times but she didn’t respond. They kept doing it and pressing her chest at the same time but nothing happened. By that time I had started crying. My hands over my head, eyes and mouth wide opened.
They stopped pressing her chest and blowing air into her mouth. They let her be and started fanning her with clothes. One minute, two minutes…her chest popped up and she began coughing; “Kuhu kuhuu, kuhu kuhuu!” Water started dripping from her mouth and from her nostrils. I rushed to her side and picked her up. I tapped her cheeks and screamed her name, “Portia! Portia, please talk to me.” She slowly opened her eyes and asked, “What happened?”
Her eyes were dazed and her breath stank of alcohol. I lifted her up, placed her in a taxi, and left the pool to the house. That day, we gave up everything and grew up. I nearly lost her. Nothing could make us try that again.
We dated for five years and just when we were planning to get married, she got pregnant. I told her, “Let’s hurry the preparation so we can marry before the pregnancy shows.” She answered, “Who are we running from? Don’t let us lie to ourselves. Let’s get married when we are fully ready. I can be in my wedding gown and still have a hand to carry my child. Don’t rush it, please.”
If “Be positive” was a person, she would be Portia. She doesn’t have a fiber of negativity in her attitude. No matter how bad the situation looks, she’ll come out with a positive spin to it and will say everything to make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world. Because of her, I don’t doubt myself. When I fail, she believes I can still try and win and will push me to do it again until I win.
She gave birth. Our son was two years when we had our traditional marriage in the little compound of her father’s home. By that time we had rented a two-bedroom self contain, and I had been promoted at work. My salary was better. She had also finished her nursing top-up program so we were comfortable.
You don’t often meet the people who match your kind of crazy. That’s why when you meet them, you don’t let them go. Altogether, we’ve been here for fourteen years and there has never been a dull moment between us. I can be with her all day and not get bored. It’s like the two of us are joined at the hip and ought to move together forever. There’s no me without her and no her without me. Always us. It’s as if to say, “I nearly lost you once at the pool and now that I’ve had you, I’m never going to let you off my sight.”