Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, July 6, 2012

First encounters

He likes to tell the story that we met in a toilet. And though I remember the toilet encounter, we didn't actually meet until the next time he was on the video crew for my advertising agency. But about the toilet: I needed to go and was directed down the hallway to the right. Door ajar - I assumed it was vacant. It was not. To this day, he still doesn't close bathroom doors. I apologised and backed out, a moment's embarrassment in a lifetime of such incidents.

It was a few months later that a chance glance between us across an over-crowded union meeting tripped me. My heart flipped and I fell. Perhaps I had been conditioned by all the sappy love songs, novelettes of lust and desire, romantic movie comedies. Conditioned too by the less than entrancing real life stories of couples who fell into love and out of marriage. All I can say is that something was kindled by that mischevious open stare of this sexy stranger.

"Who's that?" I asked the other member of the video crew. "He's ... and he's French," I was told. Hmm, what's that for an identity?

One thing led to another and soon, we were wrapped up in each other. Was he a suitable boy? Maybe not - he had as many flaws as fine points, unconventional and on the edge, careless and carefree, wild, socialised in a different world. For my part, we may have continued the intense flirtation forever, deliciously and selfishly enrapt. But then he took things in his own hands. He broke up with the girlfriend who came to take him back with her. We moved in together. He decided that we should marry. I went along. He posted the notice in the Red House, and made the appointment for the Justice of the Peace.

I was married at 30. I who had said I never would, never wanted children. Born in the age of baby boomers, women's lib, the global village and free love, I  craved freedom. But something else was kindled now - desire - in all its forms, carnal, passionate, impulsive, yearning for meaning in the heart of wildness. This might be what writing is about, this reaching for meaning in the chaos of mind. I surrendered to mystery.

I can't say that we are twin souls re-united for a time. But maybe opposites do attract: I love silence. He loathes being alone. I don't know whether we have been better people because of each other. I am the pacifist who has learned to draw the line in the sand. Wildness and civility in equal measures have never been bred out of him.

So what was the pure purpose of that first glance? To reproduce ourselves as we have. To produce better versions of ourselves. I think we have - one in London, the other in Australia, two who will one day relate their own stories in which we might even figure.

(This story is written for Samantha and Aryeh, who are just beginning their own story.)


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