He loved potatoes and so did I. A bag of potato chips sat between us. Although we barely said a word to teach other, the first date was not awkward at all, thanks to the crispy delicious potatoes.
The next time we met was in 2017 at a summer camp. This time round, there were no potatoes to break the ice. We had to talk to each other. He was awkward, stumbling over his words and catching himself when it was too late.
I could tell he was a nervous wreck. I had mixed reactions; on one hand I grew impatient that he seemed to take forever to speak but one the other, I was really flattered that I knocked him off his radar like that.
His name was Kamau and he had finally gathered enough courage to ask me out on a date.
Initially, he had been too shy to ask me out despite the fact that I too was attracted to him.
We stayed hidden behind our dance around each other's feelings which lasted for eight months, having a serious crush on each other but doing absolutely nothing about it.
MET BASIC REQUIREMENTS
I said yes because he met my basic requirements for a potential date. He was an inch taller than me.
The other reason was that he was the only guy in that camp who had managed a full conversation with me albeit the stammer. All the other boys found my height (all six feet of it) intimidating.
I was never ready to jump into a relationship with him, but every call I got from him made my heart race. He would call late in the night while a bit drunk and speak so vulnerably.
His statements were a glaring reflection of the emotions I harboured. I guess this is why one is advised not to answer those drunken night calls. Alcohol gave him the confidence to confess his feelings to me without stuttering.
Confused between the intensity of my feelings towards him and my fear of being trapped in a serious relationship, I tried to set him up with other girls. All my attempts seemed to backfire on me. The girls would break up with him and call me later asking why I wouldn't give him a chance. In my head, i had a series of possible answers to this question.
He is not my type. He was shy, awkward and really meek while I am the loud, bossy type.
He has had a year's crush on me. Isn’t that borderline stalking already? That is just scary.
He has never asked me out, save for that one time at camp. He has no faith in us giving the relationship a chance; he lacks a fighting spirit, zero ambition.
Last month, I saw a picture of his new girl on WhatsApp. A girl I hadn't helped him find. A part of me wanted to be jealous, but then again, what right did I have to be jealous?
Unable to contain my curiosity, I called to ask him about her. When he answered the phone call, I realised he was sober. I waited for him to stutter or like previous times, disconnect the call. He didn’t. We ended up having a two–hour phone conversation instead.
HE TOLD ME HE LOVED ME
For the first time, he told me that he loved me despite the fact that I had done nothing but cause him pain. He acknowledged that I would never be more than a loud useless trinket in his life; but that didn’t deter him from loving me. I would always be the girl he admired from a far but could not call his own. In words spoken with humble acceptance but a tone of finality, he let me know that I would always be his first love and hence an important part of his life.
NOT SPOKEN AGAIN
Ever since that phone call, I have not spoken to him again. His phonecalls and text messages go unanswered. The reason I gave him a blackout was because he made me feel emotions I’d never experienced before. I was scared and didn’t think I had it in me to reciprocate his feelings. The inevitable had happened. I had fallen for my polar opposite and I wasn’t ready for it.
My lack of readiness did not change the fact that I had fallen in love with Kimani. I was scared stiff because, I, the girl who was known to be tough with well-guarded emotions, the queen of no-commitment who had been enthusiastically single for the longest time, was hopelessly in love.
Love doesn't have a standard. We have no control whatsoever on when we fall in love, or with whom. It just happens. Love is beautiful and the closest thing mankind has to magic, but, in the face of my fears of being in love, that appeal remains entirely lost on me.
PUSHED HIM AWAY
Although I pushed him away and cut all communication channels, not a single night has gone by without me thinking about him in my sleep. Kimani will remain to be the one who got slipped away.