I waited a long time, after the end of my engagement. I would wonder frequently at the beginning of my solitude, why he didn’t come to get me. Why he didn’t just stop being silly and come to find me. I only lived a few miles from him when I moved out. And would listen for his car. Not long after we broke up, I would go to the window if I heard a car that may be his (old, convertible classic, distinctive).
I would find myself standing in the shower and realise the bathroom door was closed, would get out of the shower to open it – just in case he chose that moment to knock at the front door – so I could hear it. I would sometimes decide not to have the stereo on during Sunday afternoons at home, for fear of missing his call. And for a few months, I really didn’t understand why he hadn’t come back for me.
Then early one Saturday morning, his car pulled up outside my flat. I looked down on it in the street, from where I was overlooking the village green, eating breakfast.
And I stopped moving. I sat very still. Just breathing. My heartfelt wish? He was truly just out there. And he sat in his car for 20 minutes. Twice, I could see, he went for the door. Then settled back into the seat. Once he picked up his phone… but didn’t dial. I watched, in that voyeur state for those 20 minutes. Knowing from his body language the feelings he moved through, the different energies; determined, resigned, tensing, collapsing, nervous, sad.
And then his shoulders slumped for a moment. And I watched him take a deep breath. He sat upright, started the car, and began to pull away. He looked up as he moved from the curb, seeing me there sitting at the little cafe table by the window. I like to think the word he mouthed to me, with his slow-smiling, resigned acknowledgement was “sorry”.
And you know, I was ok with that. I watched him go. And knew I would be fine. We met up a week later for a coffee, at his request; laughed and flirted, and secured a semblance of friendship that meant we could both respect each other and importantly ourselves. And we never spoke about that Saturday morning.
I know this sounds like I was delusional, like I had a faith in something that only existed in my imagination. For me, and later in conversation with him, for him too, there was a belief that the very connection that had pulled us together, that had stopped the world so we could meet that first time, was held sacred and important long after we began separate lives. It remains the truest of feelings, and it makes me smile in a soft-focus nostalgic kind of way. He was the first, the only, guy I’ve ever ‘fallen’ in love with. The sadness and wounds are healed, the loss a slight flutter in moments of reminiscing. The rest? A beautiful experience and I wouldn’t have exchanged all that heart-break for the not having felt love in the first place.