My God, the air was thick.
So thick in fact, it looked like the world passing me by was stuck permanently in first gear. I watched, silently, as they strolled past, wondering if
they could sense my fear, wondering if, like me, they stood at a gigantic crossroads, at a point in their life they thought they’d never be, ever
I didn’t mind the humidifying rain so much, no, it was the denseness of it all. Then I breathed a solid intake of sweet tropical air, and realised I
had been holding my breath.
Was I that nervous? Me? Mr. Confidence? Nahhhh.
Admit it you fool, you have a fantastic collection of creatures in your throat and stomach right now. Butterflies, moths, frogs, all trapped in there,
bashing and crashing their way round, making you feel like you were upside-down, underwater, on a rollercoaster at mach five.
But why? For that I had no real clue.
I’d been here before. Several times in fact. Like usual, just drop that lop-sided smile, crack a few witty one-liners, make ‘em laugh just a
little bit, and just like a kind of magic, they’re all yours.
Would it work with her though? Yes, this is a story about a ‘her,’ as all the best stories are. We’d been at each other for a couple of weeks
now, pulling in, pushing away, laughing and sniping at each other. It was like being in a ritual dance of nature. You know the one where the male ends
up headless and food for the young? Yeah, just like that.
But despite all this, I was still intrigued. And that’s odd in itself, because I’m rarely intrigued. She had sat in my car two weeks ago as I took
her home through raging flood waters, laughing about how she had been trapped in town, cut off from her home by the rising tide. We had crossed paths
that day, unwittingly as she handed me a soggy sandwich and a bottle of water and introduced herself. I couldn’t imagine I looked worse then,
clothes and hair all soaked through, up to my ankles in mud, covered in wet sand and leaning on a shovel like a true civil servant.
She, with her pants rolled up to her knees, her hair matted against her head. But those eyes. They sparkled. A jeweller could spend a lifetime
cutting a diamond, and not even come close to that sparkle. And of course, that smile. It’s the kind of thing that could put the biggest downer in
the universe on the fast track to the best day of his life.
So here I sat, contemplating the last two weeks. Looking a little more dapper than our first meeting, dressed in an actual proper shirt and stylish
shorts, a big deal again as my shirt collection has indeed waned over the years, replaced by the typifying old man polo tops and t-shirts, waiting. On
the one day of the year I’d grown to loathe over the years. Little chubby guys with well-meaning but poorly planned out arrows anyone? Tacky
chocolates and bloody red roses? Not me. Even when I was being entertained by the opposite sex, these days stunk of corporatism and greed.
Damn, I wished I had’ve bought her something.
A single flower. Something. Anything. Hey wait, I’m sitting in a garden. Yes, I actually considered that for a moment. Picture if you will, some
random old guy tearing flowers from a public park as either the local constabulary or even the woman he is attempting to woo taps him on the shoulder.
I know I did. So with this in mind, there I sat, bereft of a present.
Maybe she wouldn’t care, I mused to myself. Maybe, like me, she would see through the whole scam and be more upset if I stood there like some cheesy
movie character with a love heart shaped box in one hand and a drooping rose in the other.
For God’s sake, stop overthinking this! You’re not a damn teenager anymore!
I take another breath of the sweet humid air, willing the circus royale in my stomach to settle a little. Life around me seems to have sped up a
little, caught up with the pace of what would seem normal. I close my eyes, focus on my breathing just a bit, and mutter off;
“Relax. You’ll be fine. Just remember who you are. Just be that person.”
I hear my name. A hand on my shoulder. Curiously the rain that has pattered a tiny drum solo on my head is non-existent. I turn to see her face
surrounded by a grey umbrella. The smile, the eyes. My heart rocks out a little tune on my rib cage. Calm down boy, act your age, I silently will
We have a small hug and something like a ‘Hollywood’ kiss. Small towns you know. I start with the whole ‘wish I’d thought to bring an
umbrella’ thing, and she laughs, making light of my once again bedraggled appearance. My solution? Run a hand through my hair giving me what
resembles a poorly planned Mohawk done by an insane Anime artist. That gets a good laugh, as she tries unsuccessfully to repair the damage to my ever
greying locks. Never mind, we both say at once. That still scares me a lot. They call it synchronicity. Saying the same thing at the same time. She
looks at me a little awkwardly at the dual words, but then smiles. I wonder if she is thinking the same as me.
I suggest we make our way to dinner to break the silence. We walk, reasonably close down the street, as I kid myself it’s because there is only one
umbrella. You know it’s not.
Dinner becomes a lot more relaxing as we escape the rain and humidity outside. A beer for myself, white wine for her. Dry white, sparkling. You see,
some of us do pay attention to your whims. We chatter as we always have. Work, kids, what’s new. As we descend further into dinner, the conversation
turns to past feats of greatness and humour, all the while avoiding the ‘ex’ talk. Funny thing about age and wisdom, it teaches you unconsciously
which topics to avoid if you wish this line of the relationship to continue.
Our food arrives, and I recall the many years of ‘sit up straight,’ ‘get your elbows off the table’ and ‘don’t lick your knife’ I
received many clips around the ears for over the years comes into play. Bit of a slow learner really. But it’s all for a good cause now, as I sit
like a true gentleman among the many star crossed and needing to impress couples that grace the restaurant. Like any other Hallmark holiday there is
cheesy love hearts and balloons scattered haphazardly across the hall. But today, I don’t mind.
For today I get to gaze upon something I have found that is truly beautiful. All the flaws, all the imperfections you could list endlessly have no
place here. Like me, she has been tempered by the fires of life, has been through the torment and tribulations that make you what you are.
It is this we both bring to the table. All the boyish nervousness has washed away as we chat over our lunch, making each other laugh with little jibes
and jokes, swaying into seriousness as we discuss issues we face as parents. She knows much of my story, as I do hers. But still we learn ever more
about each other, each moment passing breaking new ground. Does it cover the old wounds with a calming and somewhat healing balm? Some wounds can
never fully heal. But in time, and with the right direction, you can find a new reason to smile, a little beam of sun through the clouds that even a
rainy day can’t dampen completely.
edit on 15/2/2013 by 74Templar because: eta
edit on 15/2/2013 by 74Templar because: spelling
on 15/2/2013 by 74Templar because: (no reason given)