Sitting behind the big window that looks toward the beautiful Plaza Independencia, one of the green hearts of Mendoza City, I look at the bright city lights of the winter night, people coming back home after a hard day at work or university, or simply taking a little time to walk around the city or go shopping with some friends. And I can’t help but feel quite empty inside, and I hate it. It’s like I’m not good enough for anyone or anything. Like I’m always locked down in my little bubble. Like all my dreams, goals and purposes for my life are foolish and definitely not worth my time. Like I don’t belong to the place I’ve been living for six months...
At this point, I can’t help but feel like I’m a disappointment to all the people I love and who believe in me. Is this the story I’ve been waiting for years and years to have? Do I want to go on living miserable deep inside? No words come out of my mouth, but instead, tears pour down to the back of my hand like it is raining in my apartment. Is this just in my head? Or is it all real?
A door gently closing. Steps coming right to where I’m sitting at. That honey fragrance that makes me go down to my knees... Yeah, she’s finally home. And without saying a word, she instantly notices something’s off with me, even though I’m in denial.
“Hey, you know you can tell me anything, Agustina” Valentina says, sitting next to me and pulling me into her. “What’s wrong, love?”
Held in her strong yet soft arms, I’m silent. I don’t know why I still find it difficult to talk about this kind of stuff with her.
“I know that look”. Then, she wipes some tears from my cheeks with her thumb, as she’s still scrutinizing me, I think.
“Can you hold me for a while, please?” I ask as I sense tears threatening to leak again. “I don’t think I can talk about it right now.”
She doesn’t answer. Instead, she pulls me into her chest, and I rest my head on her shoulder. “I’m right here, Agus. I’ve got you.”
And we keep in silence for the next ten or fifteen minutes, holding and warming each other. God, Val is so patient, loving and caring with me that sometimes I think I don’t deserve her at all.
“Are you feeling better, babe?”
I nod, and she gives me that smile that makes me glow. Just one single gesture of hers and my mood rises up drastically.
“Now you’re speaking my language” she giggles gracefully.
A deep breath in. A deep breath out. A deep breath in...
And so I start telling her how I have been feeling for a while. How I’ve been expecting my partners at the English Teaching Training Course to be more welcoming to me but turned out to be mean and often pick on fights with me because I’m dating a girl –of course, just a few of my partners have been nothing but kind and supportive, and I consider them my friends–, and given that I often struggle with my self-confidence and self-esteem... well, I don’t enjoy my time at college as much as I expected to.
“I also get drained at the music and book store and have no time to even sigh” I complain, indeed letting a sigh out. “Sometimes I can’t sit and study for my exams or do my assignments in peace because of all the time I working and working.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love working at the music and book store because I’m surrounded by music and melodies all the time, and the money is pretty good. But sometimes it’s very tiring and I feel like I don’t enjoy it at all, like I used to do back when I was working at Araceli’s music store in La Paz.
“Don’t get upset at me, but I feel a little jealous of you going well at Psychology”.
At this, she gives me a death glare... ‘Shit, why did I say that?’
And right after that, she bursts into laughter, and I laugh my shit out too. What a crazy girlfriend I have.
“You should’ve seen your face” she jokes. “But in all seriousness, I see that you’re being too hard on yourself.”
“You think so?”
Val nods and cups my chin on her hands.
“I know so, and it hurts me so much to see you like this”. By the way her beautiful green eyes soften as they are looking at me, I know she really feels that way about my struggles. I give her the exact same look.
And right then, she kisses me tenderly on my lips. “Guess you weren’t expecting that” she says in a soft voice as she holds me even closer.
“Let’s say that you’re right” I answer, giggling as I bury my head through her dark brown hair.
After a few minutes, we slightly pull away, still smiling at each other like little kids on Christmas night.
“Still, there’s something I wanna teach you” she says. “This is for when you feel under pressure or sad.”
Well, she really knows what she is doing. After all, she wants to become a psychologist.
“Shoot at me.”
“Well, this is a breathing technique. You take a veeeeeery deep breath in, and then out, and you think of something that makes you happy. It could be a person, a place or a situation. And whenever a negative thought threatens to get into your head, mentally scream ‘NO’. Got it?”
I just nod and follow her lead. Deep breath in and deep breath out and so on, until I’m lost in my thoughts.
More specifically, I’m thinking of one of my favourite moments I’ve ever shared with Val. A memory I’ll always carry in my heart.
“What’s on that pretty little mind of yours, Agus?” she asks as she tenderly grabs my hands.
“Well, I see myself in a campsite with you, sitting around a bonfire under the winter night sky, and dancing to our favourite song. I see your unique smile, your captivating eyes, and I feel your soft yet strong touch around my waist as you hold me tight...”
“Exactly like our little date outdoors last year was” she completes. Now she seems lost in her thoughts... ‘You make me feel things, Val.’
“Oh, that I know, honey.” Shit, I can’t think in peace because she hears and reads everything on my mind. And does she dare to laugh in my face!
“So... what now?” I ask after a few seconds of laughter.
She squeezes the hand of mine she’s been holding.
“Well, it’s OK to feel the way you feel sometimes. Take it from a girl who’s studying psychology and has to devour lots of books, photocopies and PDFs from left to right. Especially, when that girl happens to be your girlfriend. What we can do is to make some adjustments and take things slow with our careers, and everything will be just alright. And remember, we have each other too.”
Those last words... They give me years of life, for sure.
However, I give her a look of confusion and doubt, as if I don’t fully trust her.
“Look, I know that you care a lot about your studies, but if you ever feel overloaded with them and with work too, you can just attend a few subjects and leave others for later. And maybe I’ll do just the same if that means we’ll spend more time together. Taking some time off may work.”
“You think it will be something good for us?”
“Whatever we can do in order for us not to get overwhelmed by our careers. I don’t wanna risk everything we have worked on together.”
Val is right. Worrying too much on my problems will eventually ruin everything I have with her. A little ashamed, I look down to the floor.
“Babe, look at me” she says as she lifts my chin and my eyes meet hers. “It’s good to worry about your studies, work and everything that somehow affects you, because it means that you care a lot about what you do, that you do it well and you want to do even better. I know it all too well because I see how dedicated and hard-working you are.”
Always good with words. As good as my mother had always been.
“And you want our relationship to grow stronger and unbreakable” she continued, “just as much as I do. Agus, that’s how we are here right now, because over time we’ve learned to balance our own ambitions and our common goals as a couple as well as our projects for the future.”
I let a deep sigh out of my chest.
“I think I understand better now.”
“I’m glad to hear that, love” she says, pulling me even close we may melt into one single body.
“You know, babe, I’ve been thinking a lot about how things have turned out to be for us like.”
Again, I get myself lost in Val’s soft hair. Damn, her honey scent will be the death of me.
“I look at these grey, geometric themed walls and think of our lives before this...” I pause for some seconds, trying to find the right words. “Before knowing you were gone that Christmas. Before you bumping into me a couple of years later. Before finally patching things between us after quite some time of loneliness, sadness, grief, anger, uncertainty, hopelessness...”
Then again, tears threat to fall down.
“If something, even the littlest detail or event, had been different...”
Before I break down, Val holds me even tighter. Lord, I’ve never felt this safe, cared, loved.
“Hey, what’s in the past is in the past” she reassures me. “What matters the most is that now we can do whatever is best for us and our future. We’re in this together , Agus.”
“Maybe that’s why I see you less worried, you know?”
“Indeed, I’m worried, but in my own way. I care about college so much and try to balance everything as best as I can. But you know what? You’re the most important thing in my life, even more than a career or a job. As I said, they’re important too, but losing them would never compare to losing you. And I don't want to go through a pain like that ever again.”
God, I’ve been so isolated, so locked down from even my own home that I’ve never realized Val has been feeling the same way, just with a different reaction or way of coping with her problems. But still, she’s been nothing but patient with me that she’s given me space and time to think clearly. This woman never ceases to amaze me and make me fall deeper and harder in love with her.
“I’m not going anywhere, unless you want me to go” I say, giggling playfully. I can tell she looks a little more relaxed now as she puts her head on my shoulder. No, I feel her more relaxed as I hear her giggling back on my neck.
“If you wonder why I’m acting this weird, giggling out of nowhere and all” she says, “it’s because I’ve never imagined I could feel this way about someone.”
“Is that so?” I ask as I play with her hair. “And who is the lucky girl or boy?”
Her soft giggles turn into laughter. If there is something I love about Val, it surely is the way she can make a serious situation a little less serious, or how she can draw a smile on my face whenever I feel less like myself or when I’m having a rough day. Even when she seems to be on thin ice, she tries to always make me feel better.
“But in all seriousness” she goes on, “I’m really sure that I want to spend my whole life with you. And I wonder if you feel the same.”
“Well, I really can’t believe we’ve been dating for over a year. And I’ve never felt, with no one else, the way I feel around you. You’ve been the first person, besides mum, I’ve ever loved with my whole heart, and I’ve loved you since the first time we went on camping with her. You’ve been my dream girl since then. And when you left for Santa Fe, I thought I would never see you again. Slowly, I was giving up any hopes, and when mum died, they completely faded away.”
I pause for a moment, as if I’m struggling to find the right words. As she senses some kind of nervousness in me, Val pulls me closer to her. Her soft touch and caresses give me a hint of confidence.
“There wasn’t a moment, during those two years, in which I hadn’t been thinking of you, Val. Somehow I was trying to keep believing you’d find your way back to me. And you did, and even though we didn’t start over on the right foot, we kept fighting and fighting until everything between us started coming out effortlessly.”
“I assume back then I hoped you’d give me a second chance, at least to be your friend” she confesses, and I swear I can hear her sobbing. “But never had I imagined I would fall deeper, harder, madly in love with you all over again, or with anyone, after what I had been through during my very first relationship. You’ve given me more than just a second chance with you... You’ve given me a second chance to believe in love and myself, and that’s the most thoughtful and beautiful thing you’ve ever done for me.”
I can’t hold my tears anymore. But this time, they are the happy ones, as Val’s. As I turn around and rest my back on her lap, I think: we may not be the perfect pair, but we know very well how to make each other smile when we most need it; we know how to keep our feet on the ground when things go south; and most importantly, we really trust each other for everything. Yeah, I have never experienced anything like this before, but I’m so sure this is what love really is about.
“I just wish my mum could see us” I say, looking at the night sky as Val tucks my hair. From our spot in one of the highest levels of the building, the view of the city is magnificent.
“She’d be so proud of the woman you’ve become, I’m sure of that” she reassures me. “I know so because I’m so, so proud of you, love.”
We both smile at each other.
“Thank you, Val.”
“For giving me a new family” I answer. Then, I sit facing her again, so close to her I can feel the electricity flowing around us. “You’ve always been my family, but now that we’ve been dating for quite some time and live together under the same roof, I realize I’ve finally found a place I can finally call my home. You’re my family and my home, and I want the rest of my life to be this way, with you.”
She doesn’t say anything –not that she needs to answer anyway. Instead, she gently cups my face on her hands and kisses me with all of herself, showing off her feelings for me. Of course, I kiss her back passionately and wholeheartedly. By the way our lips dance along each other in perfect sync, how our fingers intertwine effortlessly or how we get each other without the need to actually speak... It feels like home for both of us.
“I love you so much, you know that?” she whispers very near my mouth, sincerely smiling.
“I love you more, and I wouldn’t have it any other way” I answer before kissing her back again.
As I’m kissing the love of my yesterday, my today and my forever, still sitting behind the window that looks toward the beautiful Plaza Independencia, I feel like I can handle anything thrown at me and achieve my goals. And more than anything, I have Valentina by my side every step of the way. And she has me too, of course.
“Thanks for checking on me. I really needed it.”
“My bank account would say the same if you paid me” she answers.
I just laugh at her words.
“Sassy as always, but I love it”. And I kiss her again. “But seriously, thank you.”
“No need to thank me. I’d do anything for you, my love”.
I take a deep breath, still wrapped in her strong, caring arms. By the way she’s looking at me, her eyes glowing like the night sky in the mountains, I know she really means what she’s said.
And after almost two hours that felt like an eternity, we slowly pull away.
“I’m going to the grocery store downstairs” she says. “You need or want me to bring you something from there?”
I shake my head. “Mates will do just alright for now, and I know you love the way I brew them.”
She giggles playfully.
“Maybe I should continue preparing myself for my phonetics exam tomorrow. I'm really lost with this thing called transcriptions.”
She stands still right besides the window, as if she's thinking of something.
“Well, that’s my cue to invite you on a study date right after I come back”. Then, she approaches me and kisses my cheek. “What do you say?”
“I say you’ll help me fade my doubts away.”
Merci pour la lecture!