Mario was everything that you would look for in a man. Handsome, tall, intelligent, and extremely hardworking. We had been together for ten years, and as the years went by, I fell for him more and more. There was nothing about him that would make me want to leave, nothing at all. It was never about him, it was me. I chose to leave, and now I regret it.
When I turned 28, I suddenly felt a gap. I felt as though I was missing out on something. It started when I hang out with a few friends from university. They had endless stories about their dating lives. They made me laugh, and this made me think, just for a second, that the grass may have been greener on the other side.
You see, Mario was my first love and my first boyfriend. There was never any in-between. He was all I knew, and all my friends and family members knew. You couldn’t say my name without his. We were inseparable, and we both grew apart from our friends.
The ‘Mtaachana tu’ gang had constantly warned us that we wouldn’t last forever, but we tried to ignore them as much as we could. In fact, many times we would block that negativity. Until, one day, the words became manifest in our lives.
“I’m 28 years old,” I told Mario one day, “I have never been on a first date, except with you. I want to be completely honest with you. I feel as though if we remain in this relationship, we’ll both feel a missing piece in the future. Let’s go and explore the dating scene, then when we feel we have had enough, we can get back to one another.”
To my shock, Mario said that he felt the same way. He said he had felt that way for a while. We hugged one another that evening. We were both crying. He was my soulmate, and I was his. There was no doubt about that. But at the time, we had to do what we had to do.
As soon as we decided to take the break, I started to paint the town red. I was going out to the club more and drinking as I pleased. I felt free, just like a bird.
It wasn’t that hard living without Mario at first. Absence did not make my heart grow fonder. I could now speak to all the guys I wanted to. I was free, and best of all, I could mistakenly fall asleep without having to explain why I did so. It was a breath of fresh air.
Then came my first date as a single woman. He was tall and charismatic. He had a nice deep voice and I genuinely enjoyed his company. Until, one day, while we were on our fifth date, his girlfriend called. I could tell by the way he hesitated when she asked him who he was with.
“Uhh, just, just a friend…” He said, and I knew that was the last time he would hear from me.
Then I met a man, and later found out he was married. You see, Nairobi is one tiny city, and it turns out he was my mum’s friend’s colleague. When asked, she had described him as a “family man.” So that was that, and I knew that ship had sailed.
It’s been months of being single, and every day I miss Mario more and more. Maybe I really didn’t need to experience the dating scene. Mario was my comfort. He was loyal and honest throughout the relationship. I loved him, I still do.
Months later, I decided to call him. I wanted to see what he has been up to in the last few months. I wondered how life has been treating him. I hoped he was good, and that some part of him missed me and wanted me back.
“Mario, I don’t know why we parted ways. I can’t do it anymore. I miss you. You were my everything. I’ve tried, but I can’t…” I said, and he interrupted me.
“Let me call you back,” he said. I could tell he was in a noisy place, and by the sounds in the background, he was having fun.
I waited by the phone for hours. I was anxious. I felt as though I would have a panic attack. I cried, slept, and woke up. Still nothing. Then, finally, almost six hours later, the phone rang.
“…When you walk out of people’s lives, you can’t expect to find them in the same place you left them. I’m a different person now. I live a different life, and I don’t know if I can go back to who I was before,” Mario said.
“But you said you felt the same way. You said you also wanted to see other people,” I answered.
“I said that because I was hurt. I didn’t want to look like a loser. I’ve spent months trying to get over you and I’m finally making progress. Please let’s keep away from each other,” Mario said, and then hang up right after.
My heart couldn’t take it. I wailed and wailed, for weeks. I had messed up. We were supposed to spend the rest of our lives together, and now all that was cancelled. I wished I could take back my words. I wish I could get back my Mario. But it was too late. I tried to call him over and over again but he had blocked me.
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