I thought I knew what it was to be happy. I thought with Seth, I’d experienced true love…true contentment. But it turns out I hadn’t even scratched the surface.
Not until Dili and I gave in to our hearts.
Till this very day, I can not adequately articulate the wonderful feeling…of having Dili desire me for more than my body. That night, for the very first time, it is not just sex…that night, we make love. All through it, our eyes hold. We make love not just with our bodies…but with our eyes…and with our hearts. And lying in his arms afterwards, it feels like I have died and gone to heaven. It feels like I am floating in the clouds. Falling asleep in his arms…for the very first time…words will never explain how wonderful it feels.
The next morning, being awoken by his kiss and then making love all over again…it feels like I am living a fantasy. And it is obvious I am not the only one feeling that way, as Dili is unable to peel himself away from me. We are oblivious of time, even as we shower together that morning. For us, time has stood still. And so it should. After all the bumps in our road, we have finally found our way to each other.
And we are not letting go.
We share a cab and it takes everything in us to part for work. We spend a good minute kissing in the taxi, and would probably have stayed on longer if it not for the driver’s impatient coughing. Not even the running meter is enough to tear us apart.
Once at my desk, I am unable to concentrate on anything at all. I break into smiles every time I remember our magical night…as I relive every single moment. But as the day progresses, I worry that it was all a big fluke. I worry that I imagined it all. I worry that I will get back to the apartment only to find that nothing has changed, and we are still as casual as we could ever be. I get increasingly desperate to return home, but I am roped into a long conference call that sees me unable to leave the office before 8pm.
The moment I walk into the apartment, a wide smile breaks on my face. Right from the door, the floor is littered with rose petals, and John Legend’s Tonight (Best You Ever Had) is playing. I set my bags on the dining table, looking out for Dili. He soon emerges from his bedroom.
“Hey beautiful.” he says.
“What’s all this?” I ask, my cheeks hurting from smiling.
He walks to me and takes me by the hand. “This is me seducing you.” And then he leads me into his bedroom. Even though I have been in his room many times before, we have never been intimate there.
But it appears he has other plans, as not only is the floor also littered with rose petals, the only illumination comes from several dozen candles scattered all over the room…perfectly setting the scene for a night of romance.
Wordlessly, I give in to him and we have an even more magical night than the previous one, putting paid all my worries about it being a fluke. He shows me that this is no fluke. What we have is real…and beautiful…and all we ever could have hoped for.
That night leads to several other magical days and nights. With each passing day, I fall deeper in love with him. With each passing day, our relationship solidifies and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t overhear him talking with Onyeka, and I am overjoyed that she has finally been discarded the way she should have been a long time ago. I start to daydream of when we will be able to renew our vows…Dili and I. I daydream of a proper wedding ceremony…a beautiful and romantic one at Sunset, maybe on a Caribbean beach. I daydream of being able to spend the rest of my life with him.
I am so happy that my daydream has finally become my reality. I am living my dream.
What makes it even more beautiful is our intimacy has transcended simply sex. We are just as intimate when we are sitting on the living room couch, legs entwined, me writing my article and him reviewing documents from work. We are just as intimate when we take turns in the kitchen, gisting and playing like kids. We are just as intimate when we watch TV together, each of us discovering the other person’s favourite shows and movies. I rope him into Sex & the City reruns, and he gets me hooked on House of Cards. And when we watch the Sex & the City movie, we both agree that the scene where Miranda and Steve reconcile on the Brooklyn Bridge is the best part of the movie.
Putting it simply, I am the happiest woman in the world.
In the first week of December, Dili convinces me to attend the birthday party of another friend of his, this time all the way in Queens. Distance aside, I get myself all beautified and we make our way there. As expected, it is your typical Naija party and we spend the first few minutes saying hello to Dili’s friends, most of whom I have already met. The party soon gets into full swing, and Dili and I are soon on the dance floor, gyrating to Naija jams. When the comparatively low tempo Like to Party by Burna Boy comes on, we slow things down and he pulls closer to him as we dance. With my hands around his neck and his on my hips, we are sensual enough for any onlooker to know we are a couple. I’m laughing over something he has said, our foreheads touching, when I feel a pair of eyes on me. I look up to see Azuka, Dili’s friend’s wife, watching us closely. This makes me uncomfortable and I pull away from him. This coincides with the end of the song, so he doesn’t read any meaning into my sudden withdrawal. He walks away to get us drinks, and Azuka takes advantage and walks up to me.
“Ezioma!” she exclaims, hugging me. “So na only Christmas time we dey see your face! You didn’t even keep in touch after the last time we saw each other at our Christmas party.”
“So sorry babe. Work has been crazy!” is my own lame excuse. “But I always ask after you from Dili.”
“Speaking of Dili…” she says, leaning closer. “You two looked very cosy when you were dancing. I take it you don’t see him as a ‘brother’ anymore.”
I smile coyly. “Well…I guess not.”
“What about the Naija babe?” she asks.
“Past tense.” I answer with a wink.
Before Azuka can say anything more, Dili and Nnamdi walk up to us, each bearing drinks, and we are soon chatting away like the happy foursome that we are. Just as we are debating the pros and cons of raising a family while living in Manhattan, a girl, who just obviously arrived from Nigeria, walks up to us. It is easy to spot the people who are fresh off the plane from Lagos as they are always overdressed, and often times inappropriately. Looking at the girl’s open-toe stilletos in this chilly late fall / early winter weather, it is clear to me that she is definitely not from these parts.
“Dili!” she squeals, hugging him. “I’m so happy to see you! Tagbo told me you were coming and I’ve been waiting anxiously. How now?!”
“I dey oh! When did you get into town?” he exclaims, equally happy to see her. “Onyeka mentioned you’d be arriving soon.”
The name Onyeka is like a kick to my gut, and I can feel Azuka’s curious eyes on me. But I choose to keep my cool instead. He must be referring to speaking to her weeks ago, long before we got together.
“I got in a few days ago!” the girl says. “She said you’ll be in Nigeria for Christmas. When do you leave?”
This time, it is my turn to look at Dili quizzically. Nigeria for Christmas? Why is this news to me? With my friend Uju’s wedding postponed to Easter 2016, my earlier plans to travel to Nigeria had to be cancelled, and Dili never mentioned any plans of his own even when I was lamenting my foiled one.
“I can’t go for Christmas anymore, I’m afraid. Work.” Dili answers her. “But I hope to be able to surprise her for Valentine’s Day.”
This time, it feels like I have been slapped in the face. I look at Azuka, and I see sympathy in her own eyes. No, this can’t be happening!
“Awww, she’ll really love that!” the girl exclaims. “It’s been too long. Long overdue.”
I walk away, unable to listen to any more. Dili and Onyeka are still in touch?! This can’t be happening!
I don’t even know when I’m outside the house. All I want to be is far, far away from there.
“Ezi! Ezi!” comes Dili’s voice behind me. “Where on earth are you going?”
“You’re still talking to Onyeka?!” I explode. “You’re planning to go to Nigeria to surprise her for Valentine’s Day?!”
He looks at me, confused. “Of course I’m still talking to Onyeka. She’s my fiancée!”
I stop in my tracks, feeling like a truckload of snow has just been tipped over me. “Your fiancée? So what the hell have we been doing for the last few weeks?!”
“Ezioma, but I never told you anything otherwise!” he exclaims. “You’ve always known her to be my fiancée, why are you acting like you’re hearing something new?”
I stare at him, speechless, wondering how he can stand there and so cavalierly wonder why I am surprised, not after how deeply our relationship has evolved in the last few weeks.
“I thought you said it wasn’t just about sex, Dili.” I say, when I eventually find my voice. “I thought you said what we have means something.”
“And it does, Ezi!” he answers, proper frustrated now. “I have deep feelings for you…and you will always be special to me. But I made a promise to Onyeka, and I can’t walk away from her after she’s waited almost 3 years for me…”
I throw my hands in the air, not wanting to hear anymore. ‘Deep feelings for me’, ‘Special to him’. Is that truly all the last few weeks have meant to him. I turn around and continue walking, wanting to be as far away from him as possible.
“Ezi! Ezioma!” he calls out.
But I don’t turn back this time. I keep on walking until I get to the Subway Station, where I get on the Queens Boulevard Line back to Manhattan. Though a longer commute than returning by taxi, I am grateful for the time I am accorded to think about what has just happened.
Dili is still with Onyeka.
My fantasy has turned into a nightmare.
I walk idly from the Subway Station back to my apartment. Once inside, I change into warm flannel pyjamas and head to my room for the first time in weeks. I am still awake when I hear Dili let himself into the apartment, about 90 minutes later. But as I sit on my bed, waiting in vain for him to come and tell me it’s all a joke and that I’m the only one he wants, I soon realise that won’t be happening. I realise that for the first time in a long time, we will be sleeping alone.
But rather than feel heartbroken….I am simply numb.
The truth is deep down inside, I have always had this fear…the fear that he will return to her one day.
I walk to my writing table and pop open my laptop, selecting Travis’ The Fear as my soundtrack for the day, because I know that writing is the only thing that can help me tonight.
The Fear (Travis) – December 05, 2015
All I wanted was the chance to say
I would like to see you in the morning
Rolling over to have you there
Would make it easy for a little bit longer
Closer every year
The fear is coming clear
The fear is here
You spend all your life running away from something. You try to convince yourself that maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t exist and you made it all up in the first place. You get comfortable…convinced what you were afraid of never existed at all. You get used to living your life as if it was never even there.
Until the day it shows up, making you realise it never truly left….making you realise that the fear is here.
A lone tear rolls down my nose and drops on letter ‘B’ on my keyboard.
Yep…the fear is here.
Catch up on Ezioma’s story here:
- A Love of Convenience! 1: Handbags & Gladrags
- A Love of Convenience! 2: There she goes
- A Love of Convenience! 3: The day will surely come
- A Love of Convenience! 4: Russian Farmer’s Song
- A Love of Convenience! 5: Moonlighting Strangers
- A Love of Convenience! 6: Knocks me off my feet
- A Love of Convenience! 7: A simple kind of life
- A Love of Convenience! 8: I can’t help it
- A Love of Convenience! 9: Edge of desire