There are those moments in life you look back on and know that it was one of your lowest lows. I remember this day back in 2011, sitting legs stretched on the footpath outside my university and weeping on my blackberry. Beside me sat my best friend, who on repeated occasions I have called my soul sister for sticking by me through days like this one, cringing her eyebrows in concern.
It was a Monday, and that entailed wearing a musty blue blazer and trousers with a white shirt that I could never really call crisp. My blazer was off and my friend kept signalling towards the dust from the brick wall that I was leaning against that was directly in contact with my white shirt. Well, there is a reason it was never crisp.
As the tears rolled down my face I bent my head down, and then looked sideways, to ignore the glances from the passengers and drivers of the cars passing by five feet away from me. I knew they were looking, and I knew they were talking, I was used to being that girl. All I could do was look away and not meet their worried, pitiful glances.
In another fifteen minutes, I cut the call and told my friend that I was now ready to “hang out”.
All my best friend and I have ever done whilst we hang out is walk, meander really, and talk till there is no breath left in our lungs. Sometimes I grab a cup of Costa and she gets a fruit bowl from a roadside stall.
We have never really made plans, or even chosen a path to walk along, we go where our feet carry us.
During this particular walk, for the millionth time in eighteen months, I told her about how difficult my significant other back then was being. Nothing about my loving him made sense to her. But I guess that’s just the thing about love, seldom does it make a lot of sense.
After a good few hours, I decided to call it a day and head home. I walked past ‘our mall’ and took a right leading towards the lane I lived in. I could feel the roots of my hair as worn out as my heart. Somehow, my hair always showed my state of being better than my eyes, the supposed windows to our souls.
As I continued down the pavement, I felt someone buzz by me and stop a few steps ahead of me. He turned to me and said “Hey, excuse me, can I just talk to you for a minute?”
I looked up at the aforementioned individual, quite a striking chap clad in a black satin shirt with a guitar strung across his back. He had terribly unkempt curls falling over the sweat beads on his forehead and a vacant but pressing look in his eyes. I threw him a quizzical glance and said “Yeah?”
That was the first time I met Tommy.
Unfortunately, it was far from the last.
Since that evening, Tommy would somehow infallibly find me every two weeks and approach me. He spoke to me, but I was never really sure what he said. Somedays I thought he liked me, other days I thought he was high on one of his German pills. There were days I thought I had found the mad hatter himself.
He never took more than a few minutes of mine and always let me walk away. Always, that is, until that day.
It was one of the first few days of December, when the chill was setting in along with the joyous season. I was moving to a bigger house a good 8 kilometers away. When Tommy learnt of this (because Tommy knew everything), he stopped me at the mall with my friends and told me that he needed my phone number, lest he ever stopped seeing me. I refused.
We parted ways at the mall less than cordially that day. My friends threw me questioning looks which I refused to acknowledge. I had no answers.
That evening I ran into him again on my way home. We stood by a signal at the red light and he began talking to me. I don’t really know what it was that he said, he told me it was one of the pills making him talk, but I couldn’t move, I had to listen.
I heard him ramble on about his life, his cruel family, his Gina, about days he slept on beaches and roads because there was no place to go back to. He said he needed a friend, earnestly. He asked me for my number again. I gave it to him.
“What do I save your name as?” he asked.
“S” I said, “I need to go now.”
The calls began pouring in after that night. I told him about my boyfriend but he didn’t seem to care. There were times I thought that it didn’t even really register in his brain. There were so many things like that, things I thought didn’t register in his brain.
“I still don’t know your name, this is ridiculous,” he said to me one evening a few days later.
Everything about this was ridiculous, I thought. But instead, I told him my name.
I learnt more about him over the next two weeks than I knew about most people in two years. He called himself The Lizard King, just like his idol Jim Morrison. He told me where he was born, he told me about his brother and his father, he told me about why he never cleared college. He told me that he found Bon Jovi’s Gina to his Tommy, but she didn’t love him back. He told me he hated my country and my race, he hated most things really, but not Meg Ryan. He loved Meg Ryan, she drove him crazy. He told me that he learnt to roll a joint from his African friend, no one could roll a joint like that guy. He told me he dreams of becoming a singer, riding his way through fame in a limo where the champagne and beautiful women are free flowing.
He got me a box of galaxy chocolates that christmas, and I got him a poster. I wrote him a letter but he didn’t take it. I don’t think anyone had ever refused to take a letter I had written them, or ever has even since.
“I need to see you before you leave the country for Christmas break,” he said to me.
He bid me adieu at the bus stop. I missed my flight that holiday and waited five hours at the airport to catch the airplane home.
I spent christmas with my family, my boyfriend, and all my friends. I read his letter, and wondered what would become of the words I wrote in there. What becomes of words that you put on paper for someone, that never reaches them? I wasn’t sure.
I have never spoken to Tommy after that Christmas.
But I know he returned to college and graduated.
Gina got married to another lad.
Five Christmases later, I think of him and his dreams. I think of his broken soul and his undefeatable spirit.
He told me that love was the most powerful thing in the world, more powerful than hate, more powerful than death, even more powerful than life. And he said that Christmas was for those who believed in the power of love.
I wish he has a perfect christmas this year.