…two beds and a coffee machine.

The message on Facebook absorbed and left me feeling like a cheap moisturiser that you sometimes get as part of a ‘designer’ gift pack for pagan holidays or some other raison d’affair. Immediately it was shadowed with something I had recently read in a paper while sipping a latte somewhere. South Africa has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. More importantly 59% of married women would divorce if financially feasible. Statistically the chances of one of the engagements announced to me in the past month or so would fail. Or so the bookies would have us believe.

Personally I don’t like to bet on things like this, particularly when friends are the cause for joyous celebration, and you have only their best wishes at heart. But since the 3rd engagement was more the pot being stirred than momentous inclusion, I would in a drunken moment slap my hard earned money onto a table and take the odds as they came. But the news brought back a timeline in my recent past and I realised that the tea cup that once stormed was as empty as the memories. And like many of the people that I have said good-bye to in the past few months I turned the page and ended the chapter.

As I sat waiting for my flight to board back home, flipping through my magazine when really I was checking out the cute banker opposite me I started thinking about what it takes to make a relationship work till death do you part. Most singles have more long term success with friends so maybe it is a better strategy to marry a friend. However, in the absence of sex, whether that’s the arrangement or just what happens over a few years, what distinguishes this companion for many other companions? When it comes to saying I do, is a relationship a relationship without the zsa, zsa zsu?

That butterfly feeling in your stomach when you not only love the guy but just have to have him. Often mistaken for love is another of the deadly sins: lust. As it turns out the cute guy on the plane wasn’t a banker but a chartered accountant. Coffee turned into light bondage and afterwards as I stood watching the view from his cluster home in Morningside I was reminded of someone else who shared not just proximity but predilection. Perhaps subconsciously I could smell his musk like a dappled deer on the wind or just that he was ever present whenever I ventured this far out but the Squirrel always managed to get me to this place just with a smile.

I didn’t let my own cynicism spoil the moment of one particular couple as I sipped their champagne and floated away on a cloud of sweet potato puffs rolled in smoked salmon that were being passed about on silver trays. And in the darkness in the distance that is the Jo’burg Zoo their 100-or so nearest and dearest networked their happiness into financial prospects and it felt like we had merely exchanged 24 Central for the pool terrace of a certain pale pink hotel on the Westcliff. As the night progressed I became less certain about my own prospects in a town like Jo’burg. But I have a theory on that.

Just as dogs can smell fear subconsciously your partner in love can sense distance. And as the past few years have been the most productive I learnt that love wasn’t enough to carry it through the tough times. When you have to deal with your own shit you don’t want to have to deal with someone else’s as well do you? And when things like bonds, babies, and boredom set in and you’re relatively young you want something more. And that something usually means walking out the door. And leaving behind a trail of broken glass where a heart once sat on display.

Sure wanting someone to spend those Sunday mornings with walking around the roof-top market, enjoying coffee and the papers in Parkhurst, and even those nights coming home from the office and finding someone propped on your sofa are appealing but I’ve learnt that I need to be happy with me first before anyone else can be. Because when it comes to relationships we are all living in glass houses and shouldn’t throw polo balls. After all you can never really know … some people are settling down, some people are just settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.

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