I told my older sister once, I may be one of those who could be in love with two people at once. She laughed and said, it’s probably because I am in love with love itself. In fact, I fall half-in love with almost everyone I meet.
It’s quite true though. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” I didn’t get it before, the first time I read his words years and years ago. But now that I’ve gotten older, I want to slap myself for foolishly thinking that out of billions of souls in the world, there could only be one who’s meant for you. It’s not fair, really. Because I finally knew what Scott meant when he said those words, and I knew it so clearly I could see it burn through the back of my hand and pulse its way through my wrists and settle through my veins: love exists in many different forms. And whether or not we’re meant for one person in the entirety of the universe, we can have more than one soulmate in our life time. Not every soulmate has to be romantic.
There was a boy from what seems like forever ago. He existed long before I met him: he was the perfect, ideal guy I have building up at the back of my head, carefully crafted and pieced together from different characters in novels and in movies. He was sweet and caring, sensitive and kind; he liked laughter, he was bashful, he uses coasters and genuinely likes visiting his grandmother to listen to her stories. He likes almost every same thing that I also like, except, he has formed his own unique taste unto them enough to form some clashing opinions with me and spark interesting conversations. He was the ideal. And he was safely tucked, in a dark corner where all my other thoughts about love and soulmate and relationships existed. Until one day, he comes up and says hello to me and I say hello back, and that’s how I knew that he was real.
“There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
And this boy – he makes me crazy, in a different way. I still have yet to decide whether or not it’s a good thing. He was not only a mosaic of perfection I conjured up in my head; he was more than that. He hates anything related to sports, he prefers books to movies. He remembers every single detail I tell him: from the words in my letters to my clumsy, awkward childhood stories. He understands all the importance of every small day to day things that I do and doesn’t make fun: how I prefer to wrap my sandwiches in wax paper to plastic, to the grams of flour I sift through whenever I have a baking session. He tells me about the time he almost asked me to the dance, but chickened out anyway. He then makes up for it by asking me one last dance. Most of all, he gave the most meaningful gift, something that wasn’t too extravagant and flashy, but simple and delicate and holds every inch of a moment’s importance. He knows me too well, without trying so hard. It was as if he knew me before long ago, too.
The sad thing, though, was that, there is already someone else. There is always already someone else. Because even though I could fall for him – no, I was already halfway through being in love with him – there is still no denying that there is someone else who came in first, and that I, with every sense of the word, already love him too much.
Sometimes I wonder, if this simply wasn’t the right time. Sometimes, I think, maybe one day we’d cross paths in a different state, bump into each other in a coffee shop or library somewhere, and we’d say hello once again while all the while thinking to ourselves, “This is it.”
She met him first.
They were together for a year before we met, and they were happy. They’ve already shared a number of firsts (mostly hers, he shared his with someone else before her), went places and made plans spanning five years ahead. They’ve created all sorts of adventures and stories that there is enough out there in the world that they can call their own. For a time, it seemed like they were meant to be. They probably were – are. Still, from what she tells me, sometimes there’s gaping holes in their relationship out of their differences. I was there to witness the many incidents wherein he didn’t treat her right. It kills me knowing that he won’t be there for her in the ways that she needs him to, and truthfully, she’s not asking for much. I could be so much, so much more than what he is to her right now, and I know to myself that I could be better. I tell myself this repeatedly; perhaps one day, she’d realize it too. But right now, all that she knows was that she didn’t love me. She doesn’t love me. She tells me there is a possibility she eventually will, but it can never happen, because this other guy exists. It’s ridiculous, yet it makes sense – she wants another chance with him, because she is kind and forgiving and she can’t let him go. And for some reason, that was enough for her to stay and believe that they were meant to be, and that whatever it is they have is worth it.
She asked me if I believed in soul mates once.
How can I tell her? How can I tell her that when she looks at me I could feel the world spin, that somehow, when our eyes lock together, I get this overwhelming urge to just save her from all these madness? How can I tell her that the first time I saw her it was like gravity, like there was a magnetic force that above us and ever since, I could only feel myself draw further and further towards her? How can I tell her that I feel sick to my stomach thinking about what would it be like, if perhaps, I met her first? That the more I spend time with her, the more I want to stay and get to know her more. The girl holds too much secrets and thoughts in her head and I crave for them all. I’ve never met anyone in my life whom I can laugh with for days end, say nothing and be comforted for hours. For certain, she was perfect. She was ideal. She was the kind of girl you would talk about with your friends, the one you can actually see yourself staying with and being happy with for such a long time. She was that girl who could easily slip in your life and settle in perfectly, and that was exactly what I think she did with me.
But I can’t tell her all of this, no, I can’t even bring myself to try. So I said, “No, of course not.” and looked away. It was much simpler.
She looked at me for a second, disappointed. But she said nothing and I couldn’t tell if I, too, was relieved or sad. Instead, I also said nothing, and we continue staring at the empty, starless sky, enveloped in silence.
Sometimes, I wonder if I can ever learn how to let go. If someday, I can stop myself from scanning through crowds, looking for any signs of familiarity. If the next time I spend an hour in a coffee shop, I’d stop holding my breath, wishing she’d appear. If in every person that I meet, I’d stop looking for pieces of her.
“Maybe it’s not our time yet,” I told her, when she was saying goodbye. It wasn’t our time then, when I didn’t ask her to the dance because I was too afraid. And it still definitely wasn’t our time now, because she loved someone else and she was happy and I couldn’t bring myself to ruin all of that. But I believe, like the way she believed in soul mates and in a cup of coffee each morning, that maybe one day, it will be. And maybe, when it’s time, we’d say hello to each other and think to ourselves, “This is it.”
(Spoiler warning for PS I Still Love You)
I finished reading PS I Still Love You last night and I still can’t believe the ending. So I ended up writing this. In my mind, I was toying with the idea of a somehow mismatched serendipity. (Not the one that got away kind, because I refuse to think that John Ambrose McClaren is Lara Jean’s the one that got away. I still believe, even if she’s with Peter, that they are soulmates in a different lifetime, in a world where he got to her first and swallowed his nerve and asked her to the formal dance)
How is that, though? Is there a word for it? That if you could choose whom to fall for, you know exactly who was the right choice. Sadly, we all don’t always end up with our perfect person. The universe somehow decides this, even if the bond is still clearly there. We all settle for the kind of love we can’t live without, the one we want to drown in, all or nothing, rather than the one we expect to have.
I was discussing the idea of soulmates with a friend of mine and I liked what she said about having more than one soulmate. Because having a soulmate doesn’t mean romantic most of the time. Sometimes, it’s just meeting a person who somehow makes you feel complete. Aren’t we all scattered pieces of our used to be’s?
A John Ambrose McClaren is an ideal guy, the one you wish you could have. You know how girls imagine that their perfect guy would be sweet, caring, sensitive, and all the other characteristics they shower this imaginary person with. Except, this time, he’s very much real – that’s what a John Ambrose Mcclaren is. The catch is though, he’s not the one you end up with. John Ambrose is the guy equivalent of Robin in How I Met Your Mother a.k.a. “the one we like but can never be with”. He’s not the one you fall in love with because no matter how ideal he is – there is a person out there who is not your ideal person but, is your match.
feature image from Sweet Ice Cream Photography