“I can’t go to both, it’s either your Hen Party or the wedding, one or the other”.
Kath was pleading with me, I was explaining my meagre finances, and the problem of next month’s rent. It was London, 1989.
Finally we agreed on the Hen night, which was also the Stag do, the parties ended up as one (a big fight I remember), and I first set eyes on S.
Meeting him was enough for me to forego food for the next month, so I also budgeted for the wedding a week later, and a chance to see him again. That, as they say, was that.
Roll on a couple of months or so, and we saw each other whenever we could, despite my London base and his arsehole of Kent address. *Well, have you been to the Isle of Sheppey?! My weekends off were down there, walking, talking, music, books; his were up with me, in London, gallery visits, city life.
One Monday morning, I walked him to Peckham railway station, left him on his train and walked home and went back to bed. An hour or so later, I caught the N°63 bus back to the same station, the train to Victoria, and as I couldn’t be bothered for the usual walk to Sloane Sq, went down for the tube. Waiting on the platform, there was a scuffle, so I moved down a bit. Along came the tube, the doors opened, and there was S. sitting opposite me, a bit bewildered. He had fallen asleep, got to the end of the line, and come back. Right back to the spot where I stood, on that busy, crowded Monday morning.
That was our Sliding Doors moment.
A wedding for us in Ireland not long after, the priest talked about the stars aligning, and fate. A clap of thunder as the ring went on my finger, everyone laughed.
A move from Sheppey to the midlands, 2 beautiful babies, one of each, life was (almost) perfect.
Then to Wales, and finally a house we chose ourselves, a large Victorian money pit, which we loved. On a whim a few years later, after a holiday in Andalusia, I put the house up for sale, S was unhappy at work and too fond of the local pub, and we both decided a move was in order, and in 2005 bought our home in Spain. We moved out in the spring of 2006. We noticed soon enough most expats came to this rural area of Andalusia to run away from their problems, but not us. We were fond of saying that our picture was perfect, we just felt a need to change the frame.
It’s been 26 years since that clap of thunder, and this year has been the worst year of my life.
We argued, a lot. 11+ years together 24/7, is bloody hard work.
Shortly before Christmas, I pushed and pushed S to do a training course, which would allow him to work in the UK, and give us some much needed cash. Then, my mother broke her hip, I knew I would have to go back to Ireland, and so he started work earlier than planned and went away for Christmas. It was awful. If anyhing could go wrong, everything did. The roof leaked like a sieve. The firewood never came on time (it was freezing) and the pipes, when it did come, leaked and had to be taken down (by me) and the whole woodburner re-situated. The oven door rendered that out of action, so dinner was cooked in the BBQ, it was a Christmas to forget. I sat in, alone, on NYE, and wept.
I saved up all the angst and delivered it straight to S. As soon as he came back, I had to go to Dublin. I figured we had a week together between Dec, Jan and Feb, so we squeezed in a couple of nights in Marrakech. It was the first time I felt he was with me, and miles away at the same time. We rumbled between work, Ireland – a difficult case, but for other reasons – and arguing over who should have done what to make life easier. We argued and bitched and blamed.
June arrived, as I was getting over a virus that had completely floored me, I developed a trapped spinal nerve. My fingers, toes, and face went numb. Over the next week, my face froze completely. I thought I had had a stroke. A dash to urgencia, injections and time healed it. In that last few weeks, I thought a lot. I realised I should let go of many things, and where my priorities were. I decided we should fix a lot of things, and I wasn’t talking about the house. I wrote S a long letter, and saved it.
He came home in June, we were to only have a couple of days together, before I went over to Dublin. That was that. He had already decided he had had enough. There was to be no discussion, no reasoning. I sent him the letter, he deleted it, without reading it. I understand. I am difficult, brutally honest, and have never iced anything with bullshit. It’s too much for most.
The clues were there. I should have acted sooner. I didn’t. There was a lot wrong with our picture, not the frame, before now. Too much, too little, too late.
Yes, it’s too late. My heart has been smashed to pieces, I’ve cried an ocean of tears. I’ve mastered the breakup diet brilliantly. I have blamed myself, and in clearer moments blamed S too. (S, if you’re reading, unlikely, your timing was shit). Two to tango and all that jazz. The answer is not with the bottle, or Valium, though both have helped beautifully in the short term. The answer is not The Worst Thing, because I am not brave enough, and moreover because I have two Caesarian scars that remind me I have two beautiful responsibilities.
Writing, for me, is cathartic, even this. Online friends have been invaluable. The 3 adjectives they use to describe me keep coming up as the same; strong, feisty, resilient. Weeding the real messages out from the prosaic platitudes has been easy.
What’s next? The answer is work. I will need to move from my home and village (because I cannot live here without driving), I’m 52, not 92, and I need a social life – but not a relationship, that ship has sailed. I need to find a solution for our dogs and cats. I will work all hours to make the next move. An amicable divorce, because we were, are, will be, friends. Plus, I have a high disregard and healthy dislike of money in general and especially ill gotten gains 🙂 What’s it all for? I’m not sure yet.
The next ‘sliding door’ moment? Yes, I suppose. It’s all mapped out, for me, for him, for all of us. Maybe not the hopes and dreams of the future we imagine, but whatever is out there, waiting. x
*Can I please ask for a comments ban on this post? BUT, If you happen to have some content work going, I’d be delighted to hear from you. 😉