You didn’t love me. And that’s alright. You didn’t really need me. And that’s ok. You didn’t want to need me. That’s fine. I’ve been loved before, I know what it’s like. Being loved scares me more than not being loved.

You were Serbian. I liked that about you. I have certain exciting associations with Serbia, because I’m something of a history buff.

You wore a long black fake leather coat and boots with heels like daggers. When our eyes met for the first time, I thought I read: ‘Wanna see my gun collection?’, in those green, enticingly aggressive eyes. But you didn’t collect guns. You collected orthodox icons. Your room was full of them. Fucking surrounded by icons is way more disturbing than fucking in the midst of stacks of Kalashnikovs and old ammo, I must admit.

Bojana. I thought it meant something like ‘battle babe’, but ‘boja’ means colour in Serbian, your name wasn’t derived from ‘boj’ meaning battle. It didn’t change much, I kept seeing you like the twin of Xena, warrior princess. We would meet after work and you’d say: ‘My boss wanted me to re-do all last week’s invoices’ and I would say: ‘So you cut his throat with the rim of a plastic cup.’

You didn’t like that. And you wouldn’t answer and get out your pocket mirror and put an extra layer of screaming crimson lipstick on your fleshy Angelina-Jolie-lips and put an extra layer of hysterical violet around your eyes . Bewitching, a cock-devouring deity.

“It was a joke”, I said. “You just look like some killer babe of some do-or-die partisan group.”

“Your jokes aren’t funny.”

You were distant, yes, and you took everything very seriously and looked like you could ram your head through a brick wall if you wanted to, but you only looked that way. You walked your 11-year old dog every day. He couldn’t walk very fast, so you skipped lunch at work to take him out. You brought your old grandfather his newspaper every morning. You would knock on his wooden backdoor and yell: ‘Are you still alive?’ in a very fragile voice. I thought it was funny, but of course you were serious. You were always serious. ‘I put my soul into everything I do’, you said. And you did. You had a ritual for everything.

You would only put your running shoes on when you were standing exactly in the middle of your doormat. You would make a cross every time you ate something. You ate beans at every supper. No matter what the main dish was, you would warm up a can of beans to go with it. You said it protected you from colon cancer. You sounded so convincing, I started myself on the beans cure too. The only obvious result was not flattering to my nose.

I liked observing you do things. Everything you did was like a prayer in motion. You didn’t like me watching you all the time. “What? What? Why are you smiling?”, you would ask while you were folding towels or something.

When you broke up with me, you said: “You never take anything seriously and I don’t think you ever will.”

I said I took our relationship seriously.

You said: “That’s the only thing I don’t want you to take serious. You make me feel like I am your study object. It’s exhausting. Like some puppy dog is following me around all the time.”

I was confused for months after. With new girls I started behaving like a clown more than ever. They didn’t stay either. I texted you and asked if you really thought I was never serious about anything. You answered: “God, you are like a Martian studying to be human.”

I became passive with women. Just sat there with them, didn’t dare say a word, afraid that every word I’d utter would be fake anyway. Passivity turned out to work rather well. It gave timid girls the courage to open up and made them playful. It made extroverted women use me like a living dildo. Before I knew it I was being passive on purpose. Can a chameleon go against its nature?

And so, as I sit here eating my beans and I keep staring at your picture with the defiant pose (truly sorry, but you really look like you’re about to climb aboard an Abrams battle tank and shoot some village all the way back to the middle ages) I have to admit:

You were right once again my serious Serbian girl, I am in fact studying to be human.

A study that gives more rise to questions than answers.

Why does a knock-out babe like you collect orthodox icons? Why all the neurotic habits?

My only guess is that you needed those things to protect yourself from the endless possibilities your beauty gives you in this superficial world. That’s probably also why you hated my compliments, you wanted to stay down to earth.

Or, maybe, just maybe, I never saw the real you. Star-struck by your physical beauty, I never could understand why your beauty wasn’t the centre of your life, just like it was my centre of the universe, for a mere six months of puppy dog love.


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