Reality sets in.

Between the ages of 17 and 19 years, I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t following Jason around, looking at him with eyes filled with “love” and generally making a nuisance of myself.

In my youth, I thought I could “force” him to love me! Oh, the folly of being young and in love!

One day, I stood at the gate of my friend’s house, knowing he would pass there. I had not seen him in a while, but I always had news about him or snooped on his whereabouts. In hindsight, I sound very much like a stalker than can’t accept no for an answer. My heart broke each time he walked past me or never acknowledged me when I was in his company.

I cornered him at the gate before he was able to slip past me.

“It’s been almost two years now Jason and I still love you,” I confidently told him.

“I don’t see what difference another two years will make. I know I will feel the same about you when I am 21 years old,” I continued with passionate pleading mixed with “seduction.”

He laughed gently and said, “You have to get to 21 and see how you feel then. There is a big difference between 19 and 21.” 

“By 21 I would like to be married to you with maybe a cute baby on the way,” I said sadly.

He laughed, shaking his head, “You’re making this difficult, I am attracted to you, but it won’t be fair for me to become involved with you when you haven’t lived your life yet.”

I put my hand to his chest and could feel his heart racing, but he stood there, not moving closer but also not moving away.

Suddenly he hugged me tightly and whispered, “This is the last time I am going to chat with you or hold you or flirt with you because it’s wrong. Contact me when you have celebrated your 21st birthday if you still feel the same.” 

Jason turned around and left me standing at the gate, devastated, heartbroken and feeling as if I was dying inside. I knew he liked me, and it was hard for me to understand why he was doing what he did.

During the next few weeks, I cried as if I had lost a relative to death. My tears would not stop, and I played love songs over and over again. The more the songs played, the more I mourned the loss of Jason. My bed became my favourite companion, while the music both soothed my soul and broke my heart. 

Two months into my mourning period, I was approached by musicians who offered me a gig to be the female vocalist. They had heard me sing and, loved my voice. I jumped at the chance of doing the one thing I loved, i.e. singing. With each love song I sang, I would conjure up the moment Jason said goodbye, and my voice would denote my feelings. I moved to Johannesburg, far away from Jason and my family and finally, my heart started healing. Yes, I often thought about Jason and wondered what he was doing or if he would still like me, but singing was a large part of my life.

At 22 years old, I fell in love and married a wonderful man, and we decided to relocate to Cape Town. He had a job offer, and I could return to the band I had left behind when I moved. I was happy with my life until one day, my friend contacted me to let me know her mom had passed away. I loved her mom and was devastated to hear that so the day of the funeral, my husband dropped me at my friends’ place. He would pick me up once he was done with work. Though it was a sad occasion, it was good to see people I hadn’t seen in a while.

In the afternoon, I was standing at the gate of my friend’s house when I noticed a familiar figure walking towards me. My heart skipped a beat when I recognized Jason and memories came rushing to the fore- memories I was embarrassed about now that I was older.

We greeted and hugged, and he smiled that same crooked smile I remembered in my dreams from years ago. He held out his arms and said, “So, now that you’re over 21, do you still feel the same about me because I wouldn’t mind going out with you.”

I looked at him, and there was no flutter in my stomach, no fast beating of my heart, no sweaty palms. All I felt was a genuine fondness and gratitude that he had turned me down at the time.

We chatted and yes, flirted but I knew it wouldn’t go further than that day. Soon it was time for me to leave because my husband had arrived.

I left Jason at the gate and walked away, light-hearted, and smiling because he was right, it wasn’t love, it was just a little crush.