Deserted city on Shabbat. Tel Aviv 2005. Contact email: New York : photography@magnumphotos.com Paris : magnum@magnumphotos.fr London : magnum@magnumphotos.co.uk Tokyo : tokyo@magnumphotos.co.jp Contact phones: New York : +1 212 929 6000 Paris: + 33 1 53 42 50 00 London: + 44 20 7490 1771 Tokyo: + 81 3 3219 0771 Image URL: http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&IID=2TYRYD9M77SS&CT=Image&IT=ZoomImage01_VForm

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

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Something had changed. She no longer looked at me the way she used to. Her gaze had turned into something more like a stare; an emotionless stare, and her hugs cold, casual at their best. The eyes that once proclaimed indiscriminate affection now only had pity whenever I looked into them; like she pitied me for whatever was about to happen. The look pierced through my soul and I knew for sure with utmost certainty that something had happened. Something had come between us, perhaps someone even.

At first, our meetings had to be planned, scheduled well in advance to avoid mishaps. But as time went by, they became sporadic. Spontaneity well suited us. Forever ready to ditch our plans to see each other. The essence of time escaped us and she was a rare gem, one I never got enough of seeing. It didn’t matter whether it was on a Sunday or a Wednesday, if one of us wanted to meet up, all it took was a call, a text or in the most dire of circumstances a please call me except when nature dictated otherwise of course. I mean, times do get rough, right? And they do not care whether you are in a relationship or not.

Can you imagine how it would be if nature had to consult you every time it wanted to do its stuff? It would be something along the lines of:

‘Hello…Cooper’

‘Hello, who’s this?

‘It’s Ninja.’

‘Ninja? Do I know you?’

‘Daaah. Storm guy, Grey Cloud, Cumulonimbus, Nimbostratus, ring a bell?’

‘Ooooh, why didn’t you just say that?’

‘I thought Ninja would sound cooler than Nimbus’

‘It doesn’t’

‘Alright, I’ll drop it. So what’s it gonna be? Do you want us to rain today?’

‘Oh hell yea, my girlfriend is at my place and I don’t want her to go home early today. Why would you even ask?’

‘Ok boss, as you wish. You want sand storms like last time?’

‘Nooo, the storms were for that idiot farmer for planting pumpkins. I don’t like pumpkins so they had to go. Just make it rain long enough for me to have hit it then make it stop immediately after’

‘Why stop? You don’t want to hit it the whole night?’

‘I don’t want her to spend the night here you idiot. I have no money for breakfast.’

Now back to her: a fire had been burning, some unexplainable desire to be with each other, to reap each other apart whenever the opportunity presented itself;  to tear each other’s clothes apart and to sink our teeth into each other’s flesh whenever we were together. We were a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays where anything that would get our erotic juices flowing was a go.

Her eyes were different back then. I thought I saw something in them. Or perhaps it was just a delusion; my heart causing my brains to play tricks with me, to see things that weren’t there. Every time I looked into her eyes, all I could see was some deep rooted affection- the kind that doesn’t have to be expressed in words. It was enough for me. Her charm was notoriously disarming and I let my guard down.

She knew how to tread in the dangerous and delicate paths of the heart. Never too fast and never too slow, knowing when to stop, when not to push too hard, when to let go, when to insist, when not to and all the other trades of the affairs of the heart.

When it started, it was more of a trial and error kind of relationship. I was emotionally and psychologically prepared for when it would come to an end. But as time went by, I forgot the rules and threw caution to the wind. I unfastened the seatbelt, pressed autopilot and dived into the deep end not afraid of drowning. It felt good. I had been on the sidelines for far too long I had forgotten how good it had felt.

So on this particular day, I had decided I would tell her. Tell her that I loved her and I wanted this to be real, to take it to another level and commit to making it work. For a moment I paused to think that I had conquered my previously held conviction that romantic love is a delusion. Read about it in the Queen of hearts . I had opened the doors to the floodgates of my heart, given it a chance and finally felt it. Little did I know that my feeling of conquest was to be short lived and that I would soon be walking on the boulevard of broken dreams.

The sight of her in that afternoon sun beaming with beauty opened the doors to my Pandora box; eliciting memories of love and loss in equal measure. She looked so beautiful that I remembered full throttle how good it felt to really love someone. But with that also came the memories of what happened whenever I loved someone that much.

And then followed her eyes deficient of the affection I was accustomed to. And then the hug confirmed it; a brief casual hug like the one you give to a fellow ‘brethren’ in church because you don’t want the pastor to read much into it. Perhaps I was just being paranoid or overly sensitive to the small stuff that should be ignored. But this is love and it’s the small things that matter, right? Isn’t that what the experts say?

From there I couldn’t shake it: the pit in my stomach and the hole in my heart. I couldn’t help but feel that I had been pushed to a world no man ever wants to find themselves in, THE FRIEND ZONE. More so, pushed by someone I would never have thought would see me in that light. It didn’t take long to confirm my suspicion. I did not try to kiss her and got slapped, that’s not what happened (and there is no hidden meanings in that sentence so do not try that read between read the lines bullshit they teach you in movies). Cupid had pierced my heart again with his stupid arrows and left it bleeding.

It wasn’t the friend zone I was pissed about (and that doesn’t mean I wasn’t- pun intended), it was the fact that I didn’t see it coming. My emotions had clouded my judgment. Perhaps I would have run if I had known it was coming or device a recovery plan before the tsunami hit. And it did hit hard indeed, hard like a Muhammad Ali (May his soul rest in peace) knockout punch. And now here I am, shattered and disillusioned by love unable to rise from the ashes nursing the heartbreak with paints of yoghurt, a pen and a piece of paper.

The Affair: Part Two, continuation of The Affair: Part One  will be available on Monday 15th January 2018.

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About Cooper Jose Njoroge

Is a great thinker, writer, philosopher, poet, photographer, footballer, a student of life and politics, an aspiring mathematician and soon to be physicist. He is imaginative, analytical and highly unconventional. Tells as it is and sees things for what they are rather than what they would rather be.

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