Let me introduce you to my loves. They are each special in their own way. They hold corners of my heart and threaten, nay, promise, to never let go. I want you to meet them. I want you to know them. They are a part of me. My past, my present, my future, my dreams.
Bombay was the arranged marriage that never went through because I moved away. I knew Bombay, I loved Bombay in my own young way. Even now it holds a thrill, a pull, a fascination. But some part of me wonders if it was ever meant to be. Because now we are almost strangers. There is of course always the possibility that things will work out, that the stars will align to bring us together, but the more life pulls me in one direction, the farther that possibility recedes. But I am open, because I know that there is so much to love, so much I could fall for if only I had the chance to get to know Bombay better.
Pune is another love I have known and known about for my entire life...and it doesn't seem that I can get to know it better even if I wanted to. Or rather, it doesn't seem that I can get to know it in a different way at all. Pune is the neighborly friend who has been living next doors for so long that you can't imagine your family without that friendly face. But I have only ever seen Pune through the lens of family. My entire knowledge of Pune is shaped and colored by my experiences with my family. I know only the restaurants we go to when we visit, only the parks I've walked in with my grandfather, only the movie theaters nearby, only the shops that we go to. And even though I know that there is more personality, more something, anything, hidden below the surface, somehow I can never crack it. And it isn't just Pune, hiding that glorious personality and that unmistakable charm, it is also my own perception. Pune can never be totally cool. Pune can never be totally different, or mine, or not-mine, or young, or independent. Pune can never be free of my memories. But like that true friend from next doors, I know that the love I have for Pune will always be there. That corner is taken.
My heart is getting crowded - how many corners can it have anway? But New York has a firm grip on the third corner. The lover I had seen out of the corner of my eye at twelve and with whom I had tumbled deep, deep in love. The lover who had enticed me with promises of adulthood and independence and me-ness. That lover welcomed me with open arms when, as a bright-eyed eighteen-year-old I first stepped into its streets. My every molecule woke up and smiled - laughed even, out of joy - right then as I stepped into New York's arms. There was no pleasure so intense, no happiness so mine and so original, as that. New York reaches for me across the oceans and continents so that no matter where I am, one corner of my mind and heart are pulsing to the same two words: New York. This lover showed me what it means to say "I'm home" even when you're moving every year. I'll tell you a secret that this lover told me, tells me even today, and I'm sure won't mind if I share it with you: home is where you are. Provided, of course, that that's where your heart is. You make sure to bring your heart with you wherever you go and there you'll be at home. New York is my wise, fun, inspiring lover who taught me to love, who showed me what the world can hold, and what we could achieve together. New York knows that I'll go back to it time and again. I may leave, but not for long. Some part of my heart I leave on that island, until again and again we are reunited.
Meanwhile, another lover tugs at the strings of my heart. We met when I was twenty, and four years later our love affair continues. I can't get enough, I keep coming back for more. Paris is my beautiful, refined, sexy, glamorous, intelligent, snobbish, delightful lover. Paris shows me what it is to take a romantic stroll as the sun sets. Paris shows me the pure pleasure of chocolate melting on my tongue. Paris shows me the wit and beauty and ideas that abound in this world. Paris seduces me, and I let myself be seduced. I am only too willing, willing enough to dismiss the fact that Paris turns its nose up at others - what should that matter so long as I am myself in Paris's good graces?! I let myself glide into Paris's soft, perfumed arms. Soft caresses interspersed with mischievous pinches - just to keep me on my toes, I say to myself. Just to test that this corner of my heart belongs to Paris and Paris only.
And now meet my most recent lover: Amsterdam. Amsterdam is cool, Amsterdam is fun, Amsterdam knows how to live the good life and let others live theirs. Amsterdam doesn't turn up its nose, Amsterdam isn't bogged down by memories or connections. I know I don't know this lover very well - we only met five days ago! But that shooting rush of recognition seated deep in my soul can't be mimicked. Some have come close: Madrid, Barcelona, even Malaga. London has almost grabbed onto another corner - or has at least started planting roots, possibly to blossom into full-blown love. But with Amsterdam it was instantaneous. A part of me wonders if it was just a spring idyll, but the rest of me banishes the thought before it can even become a complete thought. Our meeting was idyllic, but I can't bear the thought of it just being an idyll, never to be repeated. And maybe I'll be silly, writing love letters to a lover who has so many other interests, but maybe not. Maybe I'll get a response to my love letters. Because that corner of my heart is already taken now.
I don't know with whom I will end up. I don't know if I can handle all of these lovers tugging at different corners of my heart. But there they are, and I can't...won't...kick any of them out. They are a part of me, and in some way, perhaps insignificant as yet, I am a part of them. And I can't wait to see how these love affairs progress.