I read somewhere that the average person falls in love seven times before they get married. I can’t count the number of times I’d have been married by now if that were true. Well, I guess I’m not average, and I’m assuming that’s a good thing? Okay, I don’t think I’ve been in love that many times, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt something for a girl. I think it’s called a crush. And I’m not talking about the “feelings” I’ve had for Kylie Minogue, Kelly Rowland (she was my favorite Destiny Child), Charlize Theron (in the Jadore commercial) and many other celebrity women that I can’t possibly remember… I’m talking about crushes I’ve had on girls that are actually in “my league”, crushes which have sometimes been about multiple girls at the same time. It happens right? Hah!

I was about 4 or 5 years old when I had my first “girlfriend”: my dad’s best friend’s daughter. There weren’t any feelings involved (come on, I was 5 years old!), just that our parents kept singing that we were abafiyanse and I would tell it to whoever wanted to hear it.

My first real girlfriend was a girl I went to school with from 1st to 4th grade. I never actually asked her out. I just liked her and she liked me back. All the boys liked her. She was beautiful, fun (a bit tomboyish) and artsy. I know she liked me back because she’d give me a card on Valentine’s Day, and I kept getting invited to her birthday parties even after 2nd grade when we were put in different classes. No other boy had that privilege. I’d invite her to my parties too, by the way. The whole school knew about us; our parents too. But then I changed schools and never saw her again until I found her on Hi5 almost ten years later. She’s getting married soon.

Meanwhile there was a girl who used to vacation at my house during the summer. Naturally our parents would tease us, but I also liked her. I know I liked her because I would get jealousy fits whenever I saw other boys – my cousins – getting too close and personal with her. Oh, and we used to play mom and dad, Haha! We’re still very good friends.

Then there was the girl (a classmate and a neighbour) my cousin tried to hook me up with. My cousin said the girl liked me, but she wasn’t really my type. I was 11 or 12 years old so I had a type, Haha! But I was too shy to ask her out then (I was too shy to ask any girl out). We never dated. We were never anything more than classmates.

Meanwhile, I had a crush on this girl that I saw for the first time when I was 10 years old. She was rehearsing for a show and I noticed her when she started singing some traditional song. She was very beautiful. She still is. The crush lasted over ten years. (I know right, Haha!) We became friends when I was about 13, but I never had the guts to declare my feelings until much (much) later. And I never actually did it in person… I wrote her letters. Lame right? Haha! But hey, they were usually followed by phone conversations to “put things straight”. She rejected me twice. The third time I was going to ask her out not so long ago, an awkward situation made me realise nothing could ever happen between us. I had to cut all contact for over three months to get over her. I realised that I was more in love with the idea of being in a relationship with her than I was with her. We’re still friends though.

Now let me take you back to 7th grade. I hooked my best friend up with this girl he liked. A few weeks into their relationship, they broke up and the girl asked me out, Haha! Well, she didn’t literally ask me out, she asked me if I liked her. And I did. She wasn’t really my type, but we had kind of grown close during my attempts to hook her up with my best buddy. I used to make her laugh (I was a joker back then) and I used to draw flowers for her (I initially drew them for my buddy to give to her, as part of his “game strategy”).
She was my first everything (yeah, premature adolescence)… But it didn’t last more than a month; partly because of the remorse I felt for breaking the bro code and also because she was quite a leech. Girl didn’t give me space to breath man!

A few months after breaking up with her I was dumb struck by the most beautiful girl I had ever seen (she’s still quite hot). Funny enough she was ten-year-crush-girl’s best friend. Some common friends said she liked me and so they tried to hook us up. I remember them locking us up in a classroom so I could tell her “I loved her”: the most awkward situation in my life. I mean I liked the girl, but I had never had an actual conversation with her to figure out if we could get along. It didn’t feel right to just get into a relationship with someone I barely knew (Yeah, I’m one of those guys). I spent the two following weeks calling her everyday but the “connection” I was looking for never happened. Plus she was quite popular and a lot of guys loved her, which made me sort of insecure. She sent a friend to tell me we were breaking up. Mwibaze! I was like, okay! We’re still friends on Facebook and speak once in a while.

After her, I decided to concentrate my feelings on her best friend, although I “fell” for a few girls every now and then… Like this girl I fell in love with because she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen… in a swimsuit, Haha! Or this other girl who was such an elegant dancer… Or the girl who used to make me laugh so hard… I fell in love with each (and others that I may be forgetting) of these girls at different points in time, but I never dated any of them, until I met the love of my life (thus far).

My feelings for her were pretty much unintentional. I had known her for a few years before I actually fell for her. It really just happened as a result of spending too much time together and getting along so well (it’s clear I have an issue with “cool” girls). She was the first girl I ever declared my feelings to. Lucky for me, she felt the same way. We dated for about a year, but things got complicated when I moved to another country for University. I have to admit it was mostly my fault. I still had a thing for ten-year-crush-girl whom I was in contact with, but I also didn’t feel like tying myself into a long-term relationship just yet. Classic. Well, I also suck at keeping in touch, and there was no Whatsapp back then. One actually had to make a phone call to stay in touch with people. I’m not a phone call person. It irritates me how I can’t multitask during a phone conversation, and how my ears get sweaty.
When I returned home she had gotten back with an ex whom she ended up marrying. I tried to maintain some sort of friendship with her but every contact felt awkward. Now we just speak occasionally, mostly about professional stuff and when we bump into each other nyene, à la burundaise. I did go to her wedding though!

Since her, I’ve tried to avoid the dating scene as much as I could for various reasons.
Well, apart from this girl I developed feelings for (and asked out, unsuccessfully) because she was nice to me (I was going through a hard time, hence emotionally vulnerable)…
Or this other girl I had good “chemistry” with but who I never asked out for reasons that I can’t quite remember. She’s engaged to another chap now, but we’re still very good friends (yeah, you can say it, I friendzoned myself)…
Or the girl who has all the qualities to be a “good wife” that I sort of dated (mostly phone calls and Whatsapp messages) for a while but couldn’t quite establish a “connection” with…
And, of course, my third and last attempt with ten-year-crush-girl, Hah!

Ariko rero, two years ago I met a girl. We met online (very unusual, I know).
The first time we met in person we “clicked”. It was like we had known each other forever. I’ve never been as comfortable with a girl as I am with her. She’s the sort of person I can tell anything. We tell each other a lot of things actually. We live thousands of miles from each other but we talk almost every single day. I think I speak to her more than I speak to my best friend. And she’s smart… and hot (a quality which may have “facilitated” the clicking, Haha!)
But we often get on each other’s nerves. We fight like a married couple. We’ve shut each other out a few times, but it isn’t long before we’re talking again.
We’ve sort of talked about dating (mostly how it wouldn’t work, hah), and we’ve joked about getting married when we’ll be too old to care about standards and “things we look for in a mate” haha.

She’s a person I would consider a forever kind of relationship with. Plus she seems to be the kind of girl that would get along well with my mum and my friends (very important). She’s really an amazing person, in her own way. I don’t know if I love her. I mean, what is love? I care about her; she’s on my mind night and day; there are a bunch of songs that make me think about her; I want her in my life (some way or the other) despite all the reasons we can come up with for her not to be; she has made me reconsider some behaviours, turning me into a nicer person (I think); and I’m willing to compromise some “principles” to be with her if I have to. Is this love? I know it’s not infatuation or a simple crush. I mean, I wouldn’t be putting up with some of her *censored* if it was just that. SMH.

Should I do something about it? I’m still holding back, trying to figure out whether these aren’t just ideas in my head (again), or if they aren’t, what we can be, with the distance (I have a phobia of long-distance relationships, fuelled by my incapacity to keep in touch as well as some people might expect) and other things. And I have this weird, Hollywoodish belief that if we are meant to be together, “fate” will bring us together…
But WHAT is love though? Does it just “happen” like we hear it in songs and see it in movies, or is it a decision someone makes?

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