‘Mama, my feet are cold.’
‘Come warm your little toes by the fire, darling.’
I’ve always had cold feet. Colder than anyone else’s. Though not corpse-cold, but enough to have to keep wearing thrice the layers of socks as anyone else during winter, and occasionally during the warmer months.
When I became a teenager, my cold feet syndrome kept me from joining the others in the pool, fearing I would catch a case of frostbite. Or rather, just about anything that required removing my shoes, basically.
‘Why are her toes purple?’
‘They look like they’re about to fall off.’
‘Maybe she’s a zombie.’
Or rather, I was just afraid. Of everyone else.
It wasn’t as though I had no friends. I made plenty. There was a girl, Marie. She was just as different as I was. She had cold hands, like dead fish. And another, whose name was Lydia, had a complexion so pale, she could’ve very well been a vampire. Together, we set our own rules and abided by no one else's. Fortunately, the world was not as cruel as we'd learned in our books. We had numerous other friends, plenty to spare – our connections ran deep into the various cliques that made up secondary school, but, it was always us three.
When our nostalgic school days ended, we went our own separate ways. We hardly saw each other after that. Marie moved out of town, and Lydia left the country shortly after.
‘Sorry, I can’t make the video call session today. Maybe this weekend?’
‘I’ve got assignments to catch up on. I’ll talk to you later.’
We tried our best, but it was never the same. We didn’t even have time for a reunion. Eventually, our friendship dissipated. I was left to start over.
My cold feet syndrome accompanied me even into university, like Mary’s little lamb. The fear of being isolated continued to haunt me. I was fine being alone, I just feared being lonely.
Then I met a boy. His name was James. How we met, wasn’t very spectacular, but there was a spark. A certain something. It ignited a kind of flame so bright, even my darkest fears could not extinguish. He could have been my first love, but I then had plenty of first loves to boast. He was different. He was my first someone. But it wasn't easy loving a ‘someone’, as I came to learn.
You had to keep them company,
‘Babe, could you come with me to this thing?’
‘Hey James, I’m getting pizza. The usual toppings, with fries?’
And sometimes even discipline them.
‘What do you mean "I don’t trust you enough"?!’
It was tough but through it all, my cold feet had miraculously (and ironically) made things better. Sometimes they even made it funny when we were in bed.
‘Argh! Stop pressing them on my back!’
There had always been a fear or two or three, that came with my cold feet. One of them came true: we didn’t last through our third year. We mutually parted ways under the guise of having lost attraction towards each other. In truth, we had yearned for so much and expected so much more, but never gained anything other than empty promises and broken hearts.
‘We’ll still be friends, right?’
Three months later, I caught wind that he'd got himself a new girlfriend. I moved on.
Years came and went, and before I knew it, I turned 27. Who knew dating and working would be as simple as squeezing every second of free time from your busy schedule, to make plans for a date? Many failed relationships and a few staled ones later, here I am, about to marry the man of my dreams. But, that’s what I uttered all those years ago when I pressed my chilling feet into the warm, strong vertebrae of my once someone. I loved him, but I wasn't in love with him.
My buried fears made an untimely visit as I stood frozen by anxiety in my veil and gown. I could hear the expectant murmuring behind the massive, mahogany wooden doors of the church that separated me from my future. But what rang loudest were the only sounds of my heels echoing as I held up my dress and ran. What I learned in life, is that people leave, regardless of the promises they had sworn to keep, and hence, I shall leave, before I am left.
I guess I will always have cold feet, and the fears that come with it.