The Love Story Part 10 - The Leaving

He sits childlike on the floor of his room besieged by suitcases and a seven-month hoard of clothes, souvenirs and mementoes. He looks up at me helpless and confused and utters, "please can you help me?" I calmly sort things out for him. We take out his hiking boots and some clothing that I will give to charity. I tell him that it was okay not to take his hard copy of The Luminaries I'd bought him for Christmas in preparation for our New Zealand trip. I hand him an old iPad with the digital version already loaded along with all the music we had listened to during our time together. "You can give it to your mum to use when you get back," I know she'll love it, now that she finds books too heavy and awkward to hold. He takes a deep breath, and relief comes over him. He appreciates me coming to the rescue, as I have done so often. Fixing it so he could stream his football games live on TV from the UK, reprogramming the universal remote so we could watch The Ho

The Love Story Part 9 - Tell Me What Your Heart Wants...

          Tell me what you're feeling          I can take the pain         Tell me what your heart wants         such a simple thing... Ray LaMontagne's impassioned vocals stir in my earbuds whilst I busy myself with breakfast preparations. He appears from his morning ablutions energetically gesticulating through his daily Trump diatribe. No mention of my announcement. Anger is not usually an emotion that I entertain but this agitated me. To respond with numbing silence after my heartfelt revelation then carry on as if nothing had happened, unlocked a formally dormant fervour within me. Fuelled with seething indignation and a readiness to move on, I reinstate my dating app and within a couple of days connect with a potential suitor. We meet at a cafe in Killarney Heights, considerately selected halfway between our two locations. I take note that as well as being thoughtful, he is more handsome than his image on Bumble represents. My interest is piqued.  As part of my job as a P

The Love Story Part 8 - Australia It Is!

Australia it is then. Of all the alternatives, including returning home to England, or staying with other friends in Sydney, he chose to live with me. Of all the people in the world with whom he could have spent lockdown and isolation, he chose me.  Every morning begins with a cheery holler from his bedroom,     "Niiiinnnnnaaaa!" I return the call with his name. We greet each other with a hug followed by our choice of hot caffeinated beverage, tea for him, espresso for me followed by our daily walk through bushland at the local National Park. Each day we vary it slightly but always beginning with the one hundred and forty-four steps down the hill and across the footbridge to the park entrance where, as consistently as the sun rises, he gives me a playful shove and then catches me.     " One of these days you'll miss me. Then you'll be in trouble." I smile to myself, secretly taking pleasure in the affectionate interaction and hoping he'll note the double

The Love Story Part 7 - Our Adventure Begins

NO, NO, NO!!! How can this be happening? How can I be rejected with such casual abandon? For the very first time in my entire life, I have allowed myself to be open and vulnerable, and now I have been shunned. At breakfast, I ask him what is going on for him and all he offers me is... "I didn't think you'd come away with me otherwise."  Right here. Right now. This is my chance to change the trajectory of my life. Should I ask him to leave and head off to New Zealand alone or should I carry on with the trip together in the hope that things will change? I decide to cling to the belief that this is only a fleeting setback. A momentary panic. I just don't want to let go. I refuse to believe that after over a year of messaging and calls and what I thought was our deep connection, our beautiful friendship, this could be it. We have our little love escape coming up. Maybe things will change for him. I should have paid heed to the weather as a prediction of how things wer

The Love Story Part 6 - The Sydney Arrival

As diffused morning rays filter through my bedroom window, I stretch luxuriously, prise my eyes open and swipe my phone awake. I smile contentedly as I am greeted with a cheery, "Good morning, Nina. Sleep well? He will arrive today. I caress the space beside me. The time zone difference has been excruciating. It will be a relief to have him here waking up by my side. Sleep has evaded me often over the past seven months. I was restless thinking about what he was up to and only truly relaxed when I knew he was asleep. I caught myself glancing at my watch, calculating the time difference, pondering his whereabouts. Right now, he should be on the train into London to meet his daughter for breakfast at Dishoom or, this afternoon he'll be with his brothers bellowing expletives at a Charlton game. It's a tribal thing. The author of my anxiety was the disbelief that this love at first sight fairytale was actually playing out. This fantastical adventure was indeed happening to me.

The Love Story Part 5 - The Long-Distance Love Affair continues…

Things escalate quickly now. His attentions accelerate and I embrace them with every cell in my body. The bubble and tingle are back. The brightness of my smile. The breeziness in my mood and the slight bounce in my step. The little flutter in my chest responds to the ping of his messages. "All OK with you, Nina?" After a few weeks of messaging, the innocent innuendo begins.     "Nina, what are you up to this evening?"                         "I'm soaking in the bath with a glass of wine."     "Do you need someone to wash your back?!"                              "That would be divine!"                              "Sigh."     "And your front?!"                              "Sassy!"                              "Of course!"     "Pour another glass then and I'll be over!" He gets the balance right too. The exact amount of concern and empathy sprinkled with the occasional reference

The Love Story Part 4 - The Long Distance Love Affair

My departure from London was more than just saying goodbye to a friend. It was about abandoning the romantic notion that I'd finally met the man who had inflamed my heart. Leaving behind the idea that I could be in love and be loved in return and, surrendering the belief that finally, good things were going to happen for me. Assimilating back into my routine, feeling a little dejected but content to be moving on, I was surprised when after only a few days, he messaged me. "How are things back in Sydney?" Within a week he is signing off with xx and how he is looking forward to catching up again. His tone is chatty and playful. Full of compliments. He is attentive and thoughtful, remembering to ask about things he knew I had coming up. Boosting me up, "You're inspirational". "I think you undersell yourself! I sense that you're much more capable than most of us." We are both at very pertinent junctures in our lives. My ex has finally agreed to a f

The Love Story Part 3 - The London Reunion

It is March now and we are messaging every few days. Subjects range from making our London plans to Epictetus and the futility of trying to control outcomes. We discuss having faith that the universe is benevolent and that if we relax, good things will happen. I have stopped cursing it by now. Several times he mentioned recreating our evening of in-depth conversation and too much Drambuie. Our plans now include history walks, the symphony, dinner and theatre. My excitement is beginning to accelerate. I visualise our reunion. A wine bar and an evening stroll. Re-creating that kiss and then there was that deep longing for more. I constantly have to restore myself from reverie. Remembering his soft hands and gentle touch. His...Enough! I need to pack. I brought the warm weather and sunshine with me to London fuelling my excitement and impatience to realise my romantic fate. He messaged me right away and we made our plans. He checked on me the next day and the next. Finally, the day had ar

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