You will set a date to meet approximately twelve times. Because, you know, we’re all busy adults with things (and people) to do and places to be. No, it doesn’t matter that all you do outside boring lectures delivered by wizened, bespectacled men and women with the prefix ‘Dr.’ on their name, and who look like they want to be there even less than you, is sleep in your tiny room and watch reruns of your favorite series as you ponder upon whether to cook or just buy smokies and consider supper sorted. You will miss the date every time because you both forgot or ‘something came up’. The something usually being your boyfriend whom you haven’t seen for ages because again with the busy adults thing.
Two months later than the original first date, you will meet on a Tuesday afternoon, because that’s when you’re free and she doesn’t feel like attending her afternoon classes anyway. The weather will be a degree or two above ‘chilly’ and you both, like the rest of female Nairobi, will be donning pea coats and ankle boots, and her outfit will be more glamorous than yours because that’s what red lipstick does. You will squeal at the sight of each other, outside Bata at the Hilton, and you will know that you had indeed missed her, and she you, and why did you keep postponing this anyway. Words will gush out of you both, adorned with the stupid intelligence that was the foundation upon which your friendship was built back in high school. And it will be wonderful to see her.
Subway will be your eatery of choice that day. Not pizza inn because the line for terrific Tuesday will extend all the way to Voi. You will wince as you order a sandwich because your lunch usually costs anything between zero to one hundred shillings and the meal you have ordered is a deep crack in the dream of financial stability that Centonomy classes planted in you. Just this once, you will assure yourself.
You will know that something is wrong when she gives you a look. You know the look. It’s the same one that attendants in stores give you when you ask the price of something that, by their assessment of you, they know you cannot afford. The ‘I wish I didn’t have to tell you this’ look. And you will brace yourself, knowing that she has been hurting alone and you’ve been postponing your date. You are a bad friend, you will chastise yourself.
She broke up with her boyfriend. That one you hadn’t met but whom her descriptions and your imagination convinced you was a six foot piece of dark chocolate. He turned out to be a jerk, like the rest of them. It was going great and she was in love… then it turned out he wasn’t ready. For sex he was, just not for a serious relationship. What a surprise, you will think with an internal eye roll. The last time you met she had looked so happy. You hadn’t thought that she had finally met Mr. Right- she was like this every time a new guy came along. But you had expected more than two months surely.
You will know that she is fighting back tears as she tells you how stupid she can’t believe she is for making the same mistake yet again. And you will not think that she is stupid, but that she is definitely looking for the right thing in the wrong places. You will remember her calm voice as she told you the last time about how sex with him was amazing. How she told you that he was open with her about his sexual history and how she was okay with it. That for some reason she didn’t mind being number 28. You will watch her try to be strong and say she will be okay but this one hurts more than all the others, and you will hurt for her.
“I know you won’t judge me for having sex, that’s what is so amazing about having a friend like you. You’re okay with keeping your virginity because that’s what you believe, but you’re also okay with me not wanting to keep mine…and I love that about you. You don’t try to force me and other people into your beliefs…”
She had said that the last time. You weren’t sure whether to be proud of it or ashamed. Were you supposed to tell her to stop having sex with her boyfriends? That it was against God’s plan? Wasn’t that her decision? Was it compromise on your part to smile as you listened to her talk about her sex life with the boys who kept breaking her heart as soon as they knew her body?
You didn’t know and you didn’t dwell on it.
You will say things like, “So how are you feeling? Are you still angry and bitter about it?” and “You know I’m here for you, it will be okay,” and “You do know there are good guys out there, and one of them will make you happy, yeah?”
Because that’s what friends are for. She will try her best to respond positively to your statements, trying to grasp hope where she can get it, but you will know that just then, her belief in love has been shattered yet again after she rebuilt it the last time. You will refrain from mentioning your own boyfriend- far be it from you to add salt to injury. And you will remember his theory about how sex changes a relationship; how either one party or the other somehow just knows as they bask in the afterglow, that this isn’t going to work. And how it’s downhill from there. And how that is exactly what has been happening in all her relationships.
You will want to tell her to stop having sex, that sex isn’t just another bodily need like food, that Jesus will make all this right because when she loves Him she won’t fall in love with boys who aren’t trying to be like him, and she won’t have her heart broken over and over again.
But you keep your mouth shut and say a silent prayer. You’re not sure what to do. Maybe one day you’ll tell her. But what for when she already knows? She will come to you when she thinks it’s time to give this Jesus another try.
You will remember what your own boyfriend taught you. That when the Lord decides it’s time for you to have an encounter with Him, you won’t be able to resist Him. It takes the hand of God to touch the heart of man. Maybe His encounter with her was still in the works.
You will ask her if she wants ice cream and she will say yes. Because after Jesus, the best healing for broken hearts is empty calories.