The Kind of Person I Want to Be

We stood in the corner sipping whiskey and rattling the ice against the glass. The smell of smoke and burning meat drifted in from outside. There was laughing, chattering, and the twang of country music. I was red-eyed and sunken as we talked about my breakup. We stumbled onto the topic of her dating again. That, he said, is when you find out who your real mates are. That night was lost in a haze of port and an army of bad food.

I remembered this when I got home last night. We met last night for dinner, eating cumin-scented curry, our forks tapping against the metal plates. The haunting taste of the rose dessert cleared the foggy sky and the moonlight traced your cheeks. When you told me about you and him, I was not surprised; I knew even before you did. But I was wrapped in a cold, soaking sheet of emotion and we sat there, silent, staring. The water lapped against the wooden posts; somewhere, children were playing.

You’ve been together for two weeks, and it was you, not him, but that does not matter. I almost got up and walked away. Almost yelled; almost swore. But I realise that he was wrong that night. This is not when you find out who your real mates are; this is when you find out who you really are.

We are rarely thrown life-defining moments, and rarer still is when we recognise them. But in these situations, there is only one reason to choose between the easy excess of an extreme position – anger, depression, hatred – and the difficult, long, and lonely path; the path wherein we face the contradictions and anxiety of life with all our reason, emotion, imagination and inspiration. The reason to choose one position over the other comes down to how we answer this question: what kind of person do I want to be?

We cannot ignore this question; to ignore it is to already have answered it. And so, last night, as we sat there staring at each other, I did not get up. I did not yell. I did not swear. I looked into your eyes, held your hand, and we talked.

That is the kind of person I want to be.