(listen to the song as you're reading this post)
At 28, I found myself back in Delhi, minus one fiancé and a city I still loved. Now, nearly three years later, I look back at that person with a certain wonder. I can remember the heartbreak, the emotional exhaustion, but it seems as if it happened to someone else, in a different story entirely. That wasn't really me.
I like to say Bombay is my spiritual home, but it was in Delhi that I began to find myself once more, Delhi that smoothed the edges, Delhi that lent itself to dates and more work than I could manage and a full-to-bustling social life, even as I complained about the city, missing Bombay with more passion than I ever missed my ex. And it was in a small annexe in Delhi, an upgraded servant's quarters, that I decided to stop waiting for The Future, and make it happen right now.
All my life, I think, I've been waiting. Some periods are just general waiting, like Godot, a train that will never come in, your goal fuzzy, but "soon" everything will be "different". Some periods were more specific: when I get married, when I have children, when I get a different job, when I move, when I make more money. It was tied up to a great extent to the idea of family, I didn't think I wouldn't have a family, it was always there, waiting to be checked off my list, and so "one day", I would have this perfect house, with the perfect man and perfect little babies. The man and babies were a bit meh, but the house would be large and glorious and perfect for entertaining. I could never afford the kind of house I wanted alone in Bombay, so conveniently it tied in with the man--my relationship and my beautiful Perry Road flat went hand-in-hand, breaking up with one was breaking up with both. Moving to Delhi, I picked a single person's house, what more could I want than two rooms, a kitchenette and a bathroom? No matter that the rooms were small and square, that the bed filled up pretty much all the bedroom, that more than five people couldn't sit in the drawing room, it was my teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall, the one flat I've ever had that belonged entirely to me--no roommates, no sex-with-benefits (where benefits = shared rent).
Slowly, as I began to grow into the idea of my thirties, only a year away, I also began to evaluate my life. I learned how to cook. I bought nice cheese. I didn't have that much more money, Delhi is not magic, and I was still a freelancer, but my money seemed like it was going further than it used to. I made cocktails for friends parties, kissed several handsome men, and drank red wine. Within the year, I had moved into a new flat, one with so many rooms that I felt lost in it, but one that made me feel every inch like I had arrived. Here I am, this is the future, this is now, and there's no more waiting. I signed another two books, I took yoga, I met a man who stayed when I was ready to meet him. My life that had seemed so narrow, so shrunken, had expanded beyond belief.
Now, when I think about it, I'm not even sure I want to get married any more. I mean, it sounds nice, don't get me wrong, the idea of committing to someone with a formal contract, but on the other hand, there's so much else for me to do. I'm not missing someone in my life, I have a partner, and even though he is far away, he is here a lot of the time, and I see him if not as much as I would like to but at least more than you'd expect two people in two different cities to be able to manage. Being apart gives me time to think about life's big decisions, and at least I know it's a life without compromise. This is me in my flat, my messy flat with ashtrays and magazines and cat litter trays (three, because the damn animal is super picky and will just poop on the floor if everything is not spic and span), this could be Scary Spinster Life, the one I dreaded when I was in my teens, but I'm not a spinster and I'm not married and that is okay. I stopped waiting. That sounds like a terrible self-help book: How I Stopped Waiting And Started Living, but hey, it happened to me.
(psst: have you read my new book yet?)
(psst: have you read my new book yet?)