Love and soul mates

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an obsession with New York City. I used to imagine myself roaming the streets, cigarette in hand, soaking in creative inspiration and then writing daily in my hipster loft, and eventually getting on the New York Times bestseller list.

In my “big city life” mindset, more than a year ago I moved cities from my sunny hometown of Durban to South Africa’s big city. The City of Gold – Johannesburg.

With the move came a huge amount of adjustment in my life, the biggest being that for the first time in 15 years I was faced with just myself, and I had to learn who I was all the way from the beginning. I left so much behind: my decade-long relationship, my grandmother, my corporate career, and most of all, my friends and our memories.

I don’t remember when my obsession with the big city began, but being a dreamer, US television became my escape. In my teen years, it was Friends, and in my twenties, it was Gossip Girl and Girls (the show that changed my whole life – a whole post on this is necessary on its own). But there was a huge chunk missing that I’ve realised came at the most opportune time in my life. Now as a single 30-something, 2 decades later, I’ve finally met Sex and The City. (You’re allowed to laugh, but keep reading.)

I was too young when it originally aired (I just remember my parents sending me to my room so that they could watch it!) But it always had me intrigued. I suppose that has more to do with being sent to my room, being a curious child, than anything else, but as I got older, it got some criticism and I had a preconceived notion of what that show would be like which made me not invest in it sooner. In essence, the criticism surrounded superficial, stereotypical portrayals of women and lack of diversity. While there are elements of these themes, I can safely say that I disagree with the critics. After binge-watching the full 6 seasons, I sit here in awe of my own life, at just the right time.

At a universal level, I think anyone with a close group of friends can relate to the way love, heartbreak, trials, hardship and sharing memories define your friendship. For me, it was beyond that.

I have known my closest friends for almost 20 years.  They are remarkable, accomplished, empathetic, beautiful women. They have seen me at my best and at my worst. But there have been times when I have felt so alone, I couldn’t open up to anyone, including them. When I think back, I wasn’t really alone. I was distant. Extraneous circumstances made me believe that no one would understand what I was going through so I shut down. But despite my flaws, they’ve still come through for me.

We have all grown together over the years in many ways. We have hurt each other’s feelings as much as we have loved and laughed, but despite the years, the distance, and the changes we have all faced, the love and honesty we have is actually indescribable. That is how we know what we have is real.

I used to deny their comfort. I believed I could handle life on my own because pain made me feel like I could trust no one, but facing my demons have made me see clearly.

Over the past 2 years, our unit has been tested insurmountably entering our thirties. We have confronted marriage, divorce, children talk (now pregnancy!), in-laws, career growth, migration, sexual orientation, religion, sex, mental wellness, happiness and sadness, and we have always found a way to back to each other.

It is laughable, but it took watching Sex and The City to scream some truths at me, loud and clear. It showed me that they’re my soul mates.

There are things we are taught as girls; about the way we are supposed to love, and the way we need to be for a partner to love us back. We are taught that the “one” will be our everything – a soul-fulfilling enigma. A “soul mate”. I believe the same lessons, truths, and untruths were revealed in the show. And what can I say? I have been a product of so much of that rhetoric. I have always catered to the man I chose, and I have loved wholeheartedly at the detriment of myself and my world, including my girlfriends, when they have been the constant in all of my successes and failures. (AND I know there have been times they’ve wanted to warn me about some not-so-great decisions, but I can be a defensive bitch so they don’t poke the bear. I have to commend them for tolerating me!)

There’s something Carrie says in the series finale (that unashamedly had me burst into complete tears!): “Let me be clear about it. I am looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.

MAN, that hit home. I have always sought endless love. I am a hopeless romantic that falls so hard for the beauty I imagine in my mind, and for the first time, I feel like I can own it. But I think I can finally own it because I can see that love and soul mates are totally different things.

A soul mate is someone who is ideally suited to another person. Well, I realised that I have 4 of those. I have my:

  • emotional, empathetic, shoulder-to-cry-on human;
  • protective, motivate-the-shit-out-of you, love-hard human;
  • practical, super independent, organised, level-headed human; and
  • laugh-my-head-off, see-inside-my-soul-with-honesty human.

They all overlap sometimes, and I don’t even know what I am to them, but WOW – would you look at that? Could anyone actually ask for anything more?

There is this meme that circulates the Internet like a Kardashian in a scandal: “It’s not about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who came and never left your side“. I used to live by that, and while there’s some truth in that, there is something to be said about history and tenure. It cannot be undone and it carries weight. This realisation being alone in my “big city” of Johannesburg has made me re-evaluate the life I want, the people I want in it, and the type of love I need.

I have met, known, and opened up to so many people over the years and they’ve all impacted my life, but lessons have had me learn that sometimes you need to dig deep, go home, and face the family. I realised I’ve been running from the people who have been my constant.

When all is said and done, for richer or poorer, I choose these women. They are my soul-fulfilling enigmas. They have chosen me over and over again. They have looked past my imperfections in their own way and done the best they could have. Most of all, when I shut down, they find a way to crawl up inside my cage and force me to show them how much I need them too. I choose that.

And the right guy, the bestseller list, and the dreamer in me will all find a way to fit into that choice. Love is guaranteed, soul mates aren’t, but sometimes, just sometimes, they collide. That’s what happened here with five extraordinary women.