It was the spring of 2014 and The Common Linnets were singing “Calm after the storm”. I remember well because that song was my favourite Eurovision contestant of that year. Not only because it was a nice song, but probably even more because the lyrics of the song described exactly how I felt at that time. My second long relationship had just come to a dramatic end, but despite of the heartbreak, I felt some kind of relief. The last months had been a struggle. The passion that had been the engine of our relationship had turned into a mean kind of anger. We were both fighting a losing battle and when we finally decided to let go of each other, it really felt like a soothing calmness after a reckless storm.
Listening to the song, I realised that music had always been my “Patronus”. I always felt connected to certain songs as if they were the soundtrack of all the big, or maybe even more the small, events in my life. Every meaningful encounter along the years is marked and remembered by one or more songs. This inspired me that maybe the time had come to create that actual soundtrack of my life by gathering all those songs into one playlist. So the songs, and therefore the people connected to them, would never be forgotten. I decided to name this list the “Calm After The Storm”-list or in short C.A.T.S, a homage to al the wild tigers, protective lions and lovely cups that have coloured the jungle of my life.
Just like Sheryl Crow, I as well learned it the hard way that “the first cut is the deepest”, although you only realise that years later, when the scar has grown thick and starts to control the rhythm your heart beats to… This part is for Pieter.
We were only kids when we met in the local scouting group. He was almost two years younger but far more developed than the shy boy I was at that time. Not only was he one of the best at every game we played, he also was the most clever and empathic boy of our group. Needless to say he was very popular and becoming one of his close friends became my ultimate goal.
As we grew older and became teens, I felt my friendship for him turned into some kind of adoration. This handsome boy next door was every girls (and boys?) wet dream. Although he was very popular, he proved to be a very loyal (boy)friend. Being a gymnast, his body developed in some kind of Michelangelo’s David and he became my idolisation of how a young mans’ body should be. Despite of his flawless imperfection, he always stayed modest and humble as ever, what only made him even more “irresistible”, leaving me “breathless” every time we met.
As our teenage years went by, we became closer. We hang out in the local bar, talked about girls and started to make plans for the future. He decided he wanted to become a civil engineer and nobody doubted he would succeed. But just as he was my soft spot, to him his girlfriend turned out to be his Achilles’ heel. They broke up several times, and as futile this seemed to the world, to him every breakup caused a little crack in the gorgeous ice sculpture he was. The cracks piled up to a point of no return and it was only a matter of time before the damage was irreversible.
The situation became more serious and like a vulnerable tortoise he hide away in his shell. At this point I started to realise that my adoration for him had taken a bit of a nasty turn. As he shut everybody off, I was the only friend he would tolerate near him every now and then, and I kind of enjoyed the idea that I finally had him all to myself. However, my “Euphoria” didn’t last for long when suddenly tragedy struck…
It was the day after my father’s birthday when I received the most devasting phone call of my life. This I remember well because I had only seen him the day before, alive and surprisingly well, but from there on my memories are more blurred as I went numb from the moment I put down the phone. Apparently, his father had found him that afternoon, when his life was literally hanging on a thread. He was transported to intensive care and therefore the visits were limited to close family only. Thanks to his older brother, I as well was allowed to see him the next day. I don’t remember much of those few minutes I was left alone with him, surrounded by beeping machines. I remember I kissed him goodbye, on the little scar he had on his left eyebrow, a ritual I repeat every time I visit his grave on the cemetery in the village where we met, where we grew up, where we parted…
It might sound harsh, but in a way his death came as some kind of relief. The obsession I had developed towards him had tired me down. It had estranged me from my family and other friends, from myself. I realised that living without him might be my only way to be able to live with him. For years I had put my own life on hold, trying to be a part of his. I was too blinded by his “halo” to see I had put myself in his shadow.
And so the years passed on and I came to accept my sexuality and the tremendous part this young boy had played in my quest to find myself. Details about our short life together are starting to fade as I grow older, but as long as I am alive, he will live through me and we will grow old together and eventually die at the same time.