What Do You Do When a Stranger Feels Like Home?
I thought falling in love too fast was foolish — until it happened to me.
‘I love him,’ my best friend said. I could see she was on the brink of tears.
We were sitting on the bed in our hostel room, trying to make sense of her feelings at 2 am.
‘What do you mean you love him!? You barely know the guy!’ I said, trying my best to knock some sense into her head.
‘I know, but…’ she went quiet.
‘But what? You have known him for three months. How can you fall in love in such a brief time? Plus, he is a staff here. You’ll be the hot topic for discussion in university if you date him. At least let’s ask around and find out what others think of him too before you profess your love,’ I said, hoping I was making my point clear.
Dating someone you barely know is a terrible idea.
‘I know but it feels right,’ she argued.
‘Maybe it feels right because you just got out of a long-term relationship? It’s too soon, you know it. What if this is just a rebound situation? You are feeling vulnerable right now. And you feel some attraction towards him. That doesn’t mean you love him!’ I said, exasperated.
‘I get what you are saying but I want to date him,’ she said.
I sighed. ‘It’s your decision. I’ll be watching his every move.” I pointed to my eyes.
‘I know you will be!’ she laughed.
After four years of dating, she is happily married to the same guy plus his two adorable Labradors.
When you know, you know
I am not a believer in love at first sight. Love takes time, patience, and effort to build. You don’t see someone and fall in love. This is also the reason I cannot wrap my head around the concept of arranged marriages.
‘As soon as I saw her photo, I knew!’ said a friend, while discussing my failure to find a suitable match on the matrimony site.
‘That’s complete bullshit!’ I snorted, rolling my eyes at him.
‘I’m not kidding! I knew this was the girl I would marry,’ he said.
‘Okay, but how? How did you know? Did the heavens send you a message at the exact time?’ I laughed, teasing him.
He laughed out loud. ‘You just know. And it will happen to you too.’
Everyone I talked to said the same thing. You will know.
I talked to my friends whose wedding got fixed within months of meeting each other. How did you decide that this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? If a relationship begins after the honeymoon phase, isn’t it better to date until then to be sure? How do you walk around the holy fire seven times when you haven’t even talked to them for seven months?
The answer? You just know.
It started with Robin Williams.
A story on Instagram about poetry. That’s what started our conversation. There was no expectation when I replied to his message. I said thank you and left it there.
He was a senior from college. Someone I had seen on campus almost nine years ago.
A week later, he shared a video from the movie Dead Poets Society. My earlier post was a picture from that scene. This is how our relationship started. With Robin Williams and poetry.
Medicine, law, business, engineering, are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. — Dead Poets Society
Over the next two months, we spoke about everything under the sun. To me, it felt bizarre. What was it about him that made me divulge my deepest secrets? Why was I sharing so much of myself with an almost stranger?
Three months in, he informed me of his plans to come down to the city I lived to attend a friend’s wedding.
‘I would love to meet you if you have the time. Would you like to go out on a date with me?’ he asked over the phone.
‘Yes.’ I replied, smiling from ear to ear.
‘Are you sure?’ my friend asked the next day when I told her about the upcoming date.
‘You remember what you said when I asked you not to date your husband?’
‘How can I forget? If that’s the way you feel then, go ahead!’ she said laughing.
What do you do when you meet a stranger who feels like home?
When I walked into the pub, I was nervous and calm at the same time. What if, after all this connection, I didn’t like him when we met? Or what if he found me boring? That would be a disappointment. I knew because I had that experience earlier. With my heart beating wildly and my thoughts running awry, I walked in to meet the stranger who knew too much about me.
I recognized him immediately, the tall guy sitting at the bar talking to the waiter. I stood there for a minute, my mind seething with self-doubt. What if things go wrong? What if all that connection I felt was nothing?
He looked up, and when our eyes met, his face lit up with a bright smile. As he walked towards me, my thoughts drifted from the what-ifs to ‘Whoa, he’s really tall.’ Yes, that was the first thing to pop into my mind.
‘It’s so good to meet you!’ he said, bending down to hug me. ‘Isn’t this crazy! We were at the same college nine years back, and this is how we meet!’
‘Yes, it is!’ I laughed.
As we sat there, drinking Sex on the Beach, which ironically came in glasses shaped like a woman’s body, I was lost for a second. I fretted over what to say. What do you say to a stranger you just met yet, didn’t feel like one?
‘I can’t tell you how happy I am to speak to you face to face. But for someone who talks a lot, you seem awfully quiet today,’ he said, teasing me casually.
‘I was just thinking,’ I replied.
‘Don’t worry. These few days will be so much fun.’
‘How do you know?’ I asked, sipping my drink.
‘Because I know. Even before I boarded the flight, I knew our meeting would go well and I would love it.’
As our date continued, the doubts in my head vanished. We spent hours sitting at the bar, talking, laughing, and watching people dancing.
As the night wore on, our conversations grew deeper and our laughs louder. At one point, the combination of vodka and uncontrollable laughter almost had me tipping off the bar stool.
I realized I had worried unnecessarily. A connection stronger than I had ever imagined was present. There was no spark between us, it was a raging fire.
As we stood outside my house later that night, he gave me a book.
‘I saw this the other day and knew I had to give it to you,’ he said, handing it to me.
It was the latest book by my favorite poet Atticus — The Truth About Magic.
‘This is perfect! Thank you!’ I squealed in excitement.
‘Yes, it is,’ he said, planting a kiss on my forehead.
He waited until I was safely inside the house before going back to his hotel.
As I flopped on the bed, buzzed from the vodka, and a lot more from the conversations, I wondered if this was it? Is this the feeling they all talk about? Is this knowing when you know? Was it possible to fall in love with someone in such a brief time?
Maybe it was true. The concept of recognizing someone instantly. Knowing in the depths of your heart, this is your person. Who knows how love will find its way to you. Through a profile on a site, or through poetry nine years after you met them.
The heart doesn’t wear a watch — it’s timeless. It doesn’t care how long you know someone. What it cares about is resonance. Resonance that opens it, resonance that enlivens it, resonance that calls it home. — Jeff Brown.
I chastised my friend years ago when she told me she loved a guy three months after meeting him. Years later, the same thing happened to me, and I am forever grateful it did.