Out of Africa, out of love

It was a winter afternoon, cold and damp, with heavy clouds announcing rain. She felt restless, but she very much wanted to see “Out of Africa”, recently arrived on Lisbon cinemas, so she agreed when he suggested they go and see it.

As usual, when the lights went out he searched for her hand. She let herself hold his but she felt ice cold. And then, as the beautiful, intense, romantic and ultimately sad story unfolded before her eyes, she began to cry. She cried for the characters’ lost love and she cried for Africa and finally she knew she was crying for the end of her own love story with the man beside her, also a beautiful and romantic one and she cried even more because she could not stop it from being over…

They had met when she was spending Christmas holidays in his city, and after a week of much partying – including the most glittering and enjoyable New Year’s Eve she had ever lived – he invited her out and after dancing many songs close together they had fallen madly in love with each other. The following months of separation were hard, but when they met again all was solved for their feelings for each other were all there, intact and growing.

What happy times they lived together! Those holidays were the best of their lives, discovering each other, holding hands during candlelit dinners and leaning against each other as he showed her the breathtaking landscapes of his native land. And when it was time to go home, he went back with her, as he was going to university there, and it seemed that the gods were smiling on them as they felt more and more in love with each other and built a solid relationship.

But time is inexorable and so often the worst enemy of lovers. Was it routine, or was it that they simply grew apart? After a few happy years, her passion began to abate and slowly, slowly, in her eyes he was not so dashing or so interesting, some things about him annoyed her, but she kept telling herself this was only a phase; after all they had been through so much, their love was strong and they would be together.

The change within her would not abate and when one day she realized she was far too interested in another man she was suddenly afraid and wanted to pull back, but it was too late; she realized she was now in love with him and not with that man who had loved her so much during all their years together. She wanted to run away from her feelings, but she simply could not. She was in pain, mostly because of the pain she knew she would cause him but also because she was certain no man would ever love her as much as this one did. But she knew she could not deny her feelings or stick with him out of pity, not only because he didn’t deserve it but also because she simply couldn’t.

And so she cried disconsolately during the whole movie. He knew her for a cry baby and he had consoled her many times during romantic movies in their years together, but this time it seemed a bit too much as she would not stop. She cried her heart out, for what had been between them and for what would never be again, for she knew this was their last time together.

As they came out, her eyes swollen, he tenderly put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her to him, and there and then, on the street, she finally found the courage to face him and she told him she could not go on, she wanted to break up with him.

He looked at her and he was stupefied, as he would remain for the rest of their brief talk. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him she was in love with someone else – she thought it would only hurt him more – so she came up with many excuses: she was having doubts, her life had changed, she needed her space… the usual bullshit and she felt awful for being such a coward.

After some painful minutes he gave up understanding what she was telling him – he just accepted it. He turned and walked away, and she just stayed there, relieved but anguished, exultant that she was free but sorry that their story would have to be just another finished love story; one they had believed was indestructible and was now at an end – and all because of her.

She went on to live her new love story and she was madly in love, as she had never been in her life. And she knew her new love was madly in love too, but deep in her heart she knew he would love her in a very different way from the other one, who had loved her with a love so deep, so true, so unconditional, and she thought one only gets to be loved like this once in a lifetime.

A few weeks later she went to see “Out of Africa” again, with her new love. This time when the man sitting next to her held her hand she felt happy and fulfilled. Finally they had accepted their feelings for each other and now they had nothing to hide. He very much wanted to see the movie and she agreed, after all it was such a beautiful movie she wouldn’t mind seeing it again, her former lover now out of her thoughts and her life. She cried a bit for the lovers in the story but nothing like the first time and she enjoyed the film so much more because she was with the man she loved and she believed they would be happy together.

Ah, how benevolent are the gods above to humans when they don’t let us see the future ahead of us for, had she known how this love story would unfold, on that day she would have cried an ocean of tears… or maybe not, as this love brought her many sorrows but also many joys. And, certainly, one more lesson on how no love – or very few- lasts forever.