Words by: Caitlin Cefai Art by: Saskia Mortarotti
There’s something to be said for slow love.
The kind of love where you can see it coming from a distance, like a train on a track, and you’re tied to the tracks by a rope. You know it’s going to hit you eventually so you lie there and wait.
That kind of love is also like you’re on a sail- boat, pushed forward by wind and waves, heading towards an island. You can see the beach ahead, with colourful towels and people playing in the shal- lows, and you just can’t wait until you get to shore.
It’s like you’re standing under a streetlight, waiting for a bus in the rain, and there’s a person with an umbrella next to you, but they’re looking at their phone.
You wonder how long it will take for them to look up and see you, and let you stand under their umbrella. Because you need it, and you know when they realise you’re there they’ll offer it. So, for a fleeting second that feels more like years, you’re looking out of the corner of your eye, begging for that person to see you.
There’s a phrase; my favourite I’ve ever heard. Koi no yokan. It’s a Japanese phrase that means knowing you will, slowly but surely, fall in love with someone. It’s somewhat of the antithesis of love at first sight.
I had love at first sight, and he broke my heart. He was holding my hand, kissing my forehead, and building a life with me until—simply—one day he couldn’t anymore. He no longer loved me. He called it apathy. I call it love in reverse.
What we should have done was take our time. Let the doubts, the hesitancy and the fear play out. I should have asked for dates, asked for affection and attention — at a pace. I should have set boundaries; physical and mental. But I didn’t, and when it came down to deciding on a life together, he realised that he didn’t love me, in fact he barely even liked me. He simply fell head over heels and walked the path with me. The blind leading the blind.
I took time. Thought and wrote and healed. Messed up, hurt myself, and sutured myself back up. Over and over and over again. But now I am the girl tied to the tracks. Because of someone who this wasn’t supposed to happen with. But that’s always the way, isn’t it? The One falls into your lap when you’re trying to dust it off.
For the first time in my life I know what koi no yokan means. It means to touch their skin and
feel a buzz the first time, but by the tenth, it’s a fire of passion you can’t put out. It means at first you share a small smile, but one day you find yourself grinning when you wake up next to them. It means never really thinking about what you wear, and then one day realising all your new clothes are in their favourite colour.
He’s the driver of the train. He’s steady, strong, constantly focused on moving forward. But now he’s desperately trying to slow the train. Tugging at the emergency brakes, causing the tracks to spark.
I see him trying to back out. I start pulling at the rope, afraid to look a fool, trying to get myself off the tracks.
We see each other. We’re both stuck, it’s a standstill, and the train has stopped. Or has it stopped? The train can’t stop, not really. It just moves slower, taking its time.
Letting us find the most comfortable position before impact. Because he will eventually let go of the brakes and hit me, and I’ll lie there, willfully, no longer pulling at the rope.
It’s koi no yokan.