Sitting behind the big window that points 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 feeling I’m not good enough for anyone or anything. Like I’m always locked inside 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 as if it was 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, elskede?”
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, min skatt?”
I nod, and she gives me that smile that makes me glow. Just one single gesture of hers and my mood rises up drastically. I smile back at her.
“Now you’re speaking my language” she giggles gracefully.
A deep breath in. A deep breath out. A deep breath in...
“You don’t need to tell me what’s bothering you right now.”
I breathe out again.
“I think I’m ready. I’ll tell you.”
She nods as she places her hands on my knees.
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 university 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 spend working and working with no rest...
“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 as much as I used to 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 her what the f glare... Shit, why did I say that? It’s too late to take it back? RIP Agustina.
And right after that, she bursts into laughter, and I laugh my shit out too. “You’re something else, you know?”
“You should’ve seen your face though” 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”. 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.
“Val” I softly say as my cheeks instinctively lean on the safeness and warmth of her hands.
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 face 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, I can’t argue with the statement that she really knows what she is doing. After all, psychology has always been her dream career.
“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 fire 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 as she looks at the greenness and beauty of Plaza Independencia. “I’m glad you remember that night as much as I do, schatje.”
“You know it’s one of my favourite memories with you” I answer as I scrutinize her gestures. How her eyes light up as she thinks or looks at green spaces. How she smiles when seeing people enjoying their free time working out outdoors. You’re making me feel things...
“Oh, that I know, honey.” Shit, I can’t think in peace because she hears and reads everything on my mind. “And I know how much you love it.”
I can’t help but giggle as she speaks.
“So... what now?” I ask.
She tenderly squeezes my hands.
“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.”
I give her a look of confusion and doubt, as if I don’t fully trust her. I can say she looks a little disappointed.
“Look, I know that you care a lot about your studies, and the last thing I want is to put more pressure on you and force a decision. But if you ever feel overloaded with college and work too, you can just take a few classes and leave others for later. And maybe I’ll do just the same if that means we’ll spend more time together.”
“You think it will be something good for us?”
“Whatever we can do in order for us not to get overwhelmed by our careers.”
Val is right. Worrying too much on my problems will eventually ruin everything I have with her. A little ashamed, defeated and still doubtful, I look down to the floor.
“Min skatt, look at me” she says as she lifts my chin and my eyes meet hers. “See, 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 very well and want to do even better. I know it all too well.”
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 selfish ambitions and our common goals as a couple. And it works just fine...
“I just want you to know that you’re an amazing, loving, hard-working and resilient person, Agus. Never sell yourself shorter than that.”
I let a deep sigh out of my chest.
“I think I feel a little better now. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, and I’m glad to hear that, love” she says, pulling me even close we may melt into one single body.
“You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how things have turned out to be for us like.”
Again, I get lost in Val’s soft hair.
“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.
“Come here, elskede. You’re safe with me.”
I close my eyes as I let myself fall into her arms. Slowly, all the tension and nervousness seem to fade away.
“Babe, 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 together in this, Agus.”
“Maybe that’s why I see you less worried, you know?”
“Indeed, I’m worried, but in my own way. And you know what? You’re the most important thing in my life, even more than a career or a job. They’re important too, but losing them would never compare to losing you.”
God, I’ve been so isolated, so far away 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 makes me fall deeper and harder in love with her every day.
“I’m not going anywhere, unless you want me to go” I say, giggling playfully.
“Not happening under my watch” she answers, giggling too. 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 uncontrollably 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 person?”
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.
“But in all seriousness” she goes on, “I’ve been thinking about the future for a while. And I’m really sure that I want to spend my whole life with you. 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 like puff.”
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.
“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 for our second chance to be successful 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 imagine I would fall deeper, harder, madly in love with you all over again, or with anyone, after what I had been through during my relationship with you-know-who... You’ve given me more than just a second chance with you... You’ve given me a second chance to believe in love and in myself, and I still can’t find the right words to express my gratitude.”
I can’t hold my tears anymore. But this time, they are the happy ones. 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 each other grounded when things go south; and most importantly, our relationship is built on a very strong foundation of trust and love. 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’s always with you, Agus” she reassures me. “You carry her memories and her values as well as all the love you’ve always had for each other. She’d be so proud of the mature, strong and beautiful woman you’ve become, I’m sure of that...”
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 together for a while and get to live the college experience together, I realize I’ve finally found a place I can finally call my home. You’re my family and my home, wherever we go.”
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, so, 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 again.
As I’m kissing the love of my yesterday, my today and, someday maybe, 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, vakker. I really needed it.”
“My bank account would say the same if you ever paid me” she answers. “Do you mind me sharing my bank code with you?”
I just laugh at her words.
“Very ‘funny’, but I love it”. And I kiss her again. “But seriously, thank you.”
“No need to thank me. I’d do anything for you, elskede”
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. “Mate will do just alright for now, and I know you love the way I brew it.”
She giggles playfully.
“Maybe I should continue preparing myself for my phonetics exam tomorrow. This is clearly eating me up.”
“Well, maybe I’m not a master of the English language” she answers, and I may have an idea of what she’s up to. “But I’m willing to help you study in an interesting, relaxing and funny way right after I come back. What do you say?”
She seems so excited and very willing to take some time to help me. And honestly, I want nothing more that her company right now.
“I say you’ll help me fade my doubts away.”
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