(cerita sebelumnya bisa dibaca di sini)
“Wait a minute!”
Saya yang baru mulai bercerita, mendadak terdiam. Teman saya hanya tersenyum kecil sambil memincingkan matanya.
“I have a feeling we’ll be in for a long night. So why don’t we move somewhere else?”
Kali ini saya yang tertawa.
“Well, I don’t mind, but where to? And why are you so sure that I have a long story to talk to?”
“As I said, I have a feeling. And most of the time, my feeling is right. I don’t know, walk the talk?”
“It’s almost midnight, and you don’t walk the talk at night in this town. It’s not safe.”
“In case you miss my shameless Instagram posts, I’ve been learning karate.”
“And when was the last time you practiced? Seven years ago?”
“Oh shut up!”
Kami berdua tertawa, sebelum akhirnya sepakat untuk membayar tagihan makanan kami sendiri-sendiri. Kami pun sepakat untuk menghabiskan waktu di kolam renang di bawah kamar hotelnya, sambil menyusuri taman kecil yang ada di sana.
Sepanjang perjalanan di taksi, kami masih tertawa mengingat-ingat cerita yang baru saja kami celotehkan satu sama lain selama 3 jam terakhir. Termasuk ceritanya dengan Adam. Kami pun sempat melakukan video call dengan Adam, yang memang sudah berubah sama sekali dari terakhir kali saya melihatnya di ruangan kelas kuliah kami, belasan tahun yang lalu.
Sampai di hotel tempat teman saya menginap, kami langsung menuju taman dekat kolam renang. Beberapa petugas keamanan melihat kami dengan aneh, tertawa sambil berjalan seolah-olah kami mabuk. Padahal kami cuma minum teh dan air putih di restoran tadi. Setelah meyakinkan mereka bahwa kami hanya mau duduk di kolam renang sambil memesan minuman dari restoran hotel, petugas keamanan tersenyum lega, sambil mempersilakan kami.
Kami masih tertawa kecil sampai akhirnya teman saya memulai percakapan.
“So. No love story to tell?”
“No love story to tell. Nothing major like your 25-year plan and already marking half the milestone.”
“And yet no love story to tell is also a love story to tell. So, what’s yours? How come there is none?”
Saya terdiam, mengambil nafas sejenak, lalu tersenyum ke arahnya.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining or being self-pity, but I guess I’m not as lucky as others in this department.”
“What do you mean?”
“This is purely my point of view, but I guess others find it easy to find the one they want to date, hook up with, or be in a relationship with, and I’m not so lucky in that. Not helping is having friends who make fun of your singlehood all the time.”
“Oh, trust me. Keep those friends. They’re all you’ve got!”
Kami tertawa cukup keras. Untung tidak ada orang lain.
“But seriously, don’t be so hard on yourself. Besides, everyone is fighting their own battle that we don’t know. So don’t compare yourself to others.”
Saya mengangguk kecil sambil menyisip minuman dan bergumam, “Yeap.”
Teman saya mendekat ke saya, lalu memeluk saya.
“Dude, you’re fine.”
“It’s always good to hear that from other people, right?”
“Since when have you become this … person, who knows what to say and console?”
“Life experiences, I guess?”
“Ah. That makes sense.”
“So when was the last time you were in relationship?”
“The serious kind? It’s been some time.”
“I bet you miss it.”
“What do you miss about being in a relationship?”
Saya menegakkan posisi duduk, dan kembali terdiam beberapa saat. Lalu setelah menghela nafas cukup panjang, saya berkata:
“It’s impossible to miss everything, of course, but if I have to choose, I miss having someone to come home to. I miss being someone to come home to. I miss cooking for two. I miss planning the next getaway together. I miss going to bed at night and waking up in the morning with the same person. I miss the silence shared between the two on the couch. I miss the connection. I miss the assurance, that at the end of a long day, there will be someone for you to talk to.”
“Do you miss the fights, the messy laundry, the piling dishes, the “where-are-you-last-night” suspicion and all?”
“It comes with the package, right?”
“Right. Occupational hazard.”
“More than anything, I miss the connection. How one makes attempts to figure out what the other party is interested in, then find the common thread, or build the bridge to gap the difference. How we learn new things, at first to impress the other party, and eventually liking what we learn. I miss that.”
Teman saya tersenyum.
“And when was the last time you fell for someone?”
Kali ini giliran saya yang bersemu-semu.
“Only recently, actually.”
“What? Come on!”
“Yeah, surprise, surprise.”
“I knew my hunch was right. It is indeed going to be a long night. Tell me!”
“It’s not like what you think.”
“I don’t care. Tell me!”
“Well, how do I start? You know the work that I do, right?”
Teman saya mengangguk.
“All years, decades even, of my professional life, I’ve never mixed or even made an attempt to get to know my work partners beyond the working hours. Always keep it professional, at whatever cost, and actually delivered some solid work. But after decades, fate decided to play its trick. I just could not help being attracted to someone at work, despite the person ticks off all the boxes of “the-type-of-person-you-will-never-date” list.”
“Hey, there’s always the first time for everything.”
“Exactly. So I met this person during my last project. We hit it off immediately. We spent time talking about things we like in common. Mostly we talked. And I guess I get carried away by the attention.”
“What do you mean you get carried away?”
“Being alone is never easy. Worse if you add that with being lonely. Deadly combination. You often spend your time wishing there’s always someone out there you can connect with. And that’s what happened to me, I guess. When the opportunity presents itself, no matter how small it is, I grab it immediately. Little did I know that I might grab it too strong that it started getting loose.”
“Well, have you been acting or doing things that it feels like an out-of-body experience? Like you do things you don’t normally do?”
Teman saya kembali mengangguk pelan.
“That’s what happened to me. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I did things I don’t normally do. I took a crowded train to suburb on a Sunday afternoon, overlooking sunset, to give company. I paid extra attention. I kept myself awake at night just to talk. I excused myself out of meetings so that I can meet outside project office even just for a quick lunch. I wrote lengthy letters to express how I felt, mailed them at the last minute on my way to airport, almost missed out my check-in time. For the first time, during a work trip, I constantly thought of someone else back home, whereas all this time, whenever I travel, I just completely detached myself from whatever it is back home. During the trip, I kept on writing, like a diary, just to keep me sane. I wrote everyday, at the end of my work, just to express how I feel, in words, to make sure that I don’t lose the moment. I’m back to being a kid all over again.”
“Wow. But I heard this saying before, that every time you fall, it’s always new.”
“It is. No people are alike, thus no experience in falling should be the same. I agree with you. It’s just there’s this surreal thing that you suddenly have, and you have no idea where this comes from.”
“It’s from the heart. You have no idea what heart could drive you to do, when it is fuelled.”
Saya menghela nafas.
“I guess. Yeah.”
“And how’s the response?”
“Would I be here with you right now if it works?”
“Ouch. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks, but please, don’t be. In fact, I’m glad it happened. Do you want to know why?”
“I think I know why, but I’m trying to be a good listener here.”
Saya tertawa cukup kencang. Teman saya pun ikut terkekeh.
“The night is yours, honey.”
“So it is ours. I’m glad that I got to experience that all over again. Especially at our age. People, or society, expect us to already be, God knows I hate these terms, to be “stable in life”, “comfortable and content”, “secured and safe”. But do they have any idea what they prevent us from? The joy of life. So yes, I am grateful, and thankful for what just happened in my life.
Falling for someone at the most unexpected time, feeling the surreal out-of-body experience of doing silly things that I kept telling myself at times, “This is not me!” Having something to look forward to, that for once, life has somewhat a purpose to meet on daily basis, even if those plans of purposes fail. But you don’t care. You keep on trying. You keep on daydreaming. You keep on fantasizing. You keep reminding yourselves to stay on the ground, so if you really fall down, you won’t get hurt.”
“Are you? Hurt?”
“Of course. Big time. What do you call someone who cried at night after the 13 days of infatuation is over, after the crush was crashed?”
“I call that karma, because that reminds me of a scene from the film you loathe the most called “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Spontan saya tertawa sambil mengambil percikan air di kolam ke arah teman saya.
“Okay. The karma is on me, I take that. But when it’s over, I’m glad that I still get to experience all of those. You know, at our age, aren’t we lucky if we experience falling all over again?”
Teman saya tersenyum.
“You have no idea how jealous I am of you. Just by listening to your rambling tonight, my mind was transported back to those old days of falling in love.”
“Emphasize on the word ‘old’, thank you very much.”
“Hahaha! You know what I mean. We are not getting younger. And as you grow older, you succumb more to comfort, safety, and security. At least that’s what Adam and I have. We don’t exchange romantic notes anymore. We have gone through a lot, so the most important thing for us right now, is to be sure the other party is there when we ask the whereabouts. Sounds like we start taking each other for granted, which maybe we do if you come to think of it.”
“And you have no idea how much I miss to have that again in my life. The steady companionship that we often take for granted in life.”
“I’m sure you do. We can’t have it all, can we?”
“Didn’t We Almost Have It All, as Whitney Houston said.”
“Ah, you and your Whitney fandom!”
“So, all these hours we talk about the object of your affection …”
“… was my object of your affection, mind you.”
“Who cares? Once you open up your heart to people, they never really leave. Who is this lucky one?”
Saya tersenyum sambil mengedipkan mata ke teman saya.
“I am. I’m the lucky one. When it comes to falling all over again, I am the lucky one.”
Teman saya mengangguk, dan tersenyum.
“There’s no greater feeling than being in love.”
“Shall we continue this upstairs?”