Saturday, October 12, 2019

Twenty past midnight and 45 minutes late






I didn't want to see it. That things between us were slipping down; that we were beginning to argue more frequently, although neither of us are fighters.

When it was simple, it was blissful. But when it wasn't, it was something like ugly, the French use the word "glauque." And little by little, the worst of those moments somehow seemed to loom large, like a big balloon figure in a parade, over the million moments of quiet happiness. Contentment came into question.

He had said some rather fantastical things in the beginning, ones to turn a girls head. I remember a so casually stated, "I would be happy to spend the rest of my days with you," that it was almost like he was he sipping his words inward with his breath, just as he was trying to dare them out.

I didn't, couldn't, make a big top tent of a thing about it then. Now, I wish I would have more...to have tested what he had said with a prodding fork of contentious vulnerability to see if it was true. Or to see if it had been..only true in that particular moment. For I know that happens sometimes. How human we are, stumbling through. We blurt out. Some of what he said was not always so solid as to induce certainty. I have done the same.

Despite the brevity of our relationship, at eight months, not even the longevity of a birth, I was given some of the sweetest experiences with a man that I have ever encountered, and could not even have imagined possible.

When he swept me off to Rome...I do know that those were some of the happiest days of my life. Just filled with so many "oh's"...of turning a corner after midnight and discovering the Pantheon (while he whistled "La Vie en Rose"), or swooning over buttered sage ravioli at his local spot Urbana 47 or singing Adele in our bed despite the fact that I don't sing anymore, but I did for him. He orchestrated and offered it all, selflessly. And oh how we laughed, bells ringing, throughout.

Every day, every day, we laughed.

But what do you do when you are both a bit damaged by time to the point where establishing a real and mutual trust somehow does not slide into the easy quotidian? When the canyon of your languages and cultures yawns wide, despite the best intentions?

In our case, we truly tried to make it happen. He did so through gestures; frequently buying me simple but pitch-perfect gifts. Dresses that he had picked out on his own, guessing at the size. Tickets to plays and concerts, each delightful. He would arrive in Avignon with his suitcase full of such surprises along with his loving pup, Noumea at his side - an incredible balm after missing my dogs so much. Just as if it was nothing, this giving that I had never known.

I was forceful with my gratitude, I think, even though it was completely genuine. It was so new to me, such effusive generosity, that I wanted to be sure that it was practically burned into him. At times my "thank you's" or "I'm sorry's" when something didn't quite come up to snuff, annoyed him. I understand why. And yet I am calm in the warmth of the love that I offered, as well. Arms wrapped around. Love in a steadfast gaze, the corner of my lips upturned, yet biting down my delight.

Recently, I had began to ask the "Where are we going questions?" to see if we were capable of making something lasting. This despite a clear stance that I was no longer willing to abandon all to move to Paris unless it was for a strong plan. I had already done that once and so am weary. And also, yes, I am dearly attached to this Provence. How I have fought to stay here. He seemed to understand and had never made much of a fuss about the commute although his responses were vague, I see that now.

Verbally, he expressed himself less and less expansively - it would throw me every time that he would end our phone conversations with a laconic "Ciao" as if he were speaking to a colleague and not his girl. And yet, declarations of love were made. Late in; seven months in. That is how long it took him for a clear, unapologetic, "Je t'aime."

And throughout this time, nothing truly terrible happened, despite some rather dramatic disputes with hurt inflicted on both sides. There was no cheating on the other, no viciousness. We did our best to see each other every week and Christophe was great about largely paying for my train tickets as I could not. We enjoyed each other, from table to bed and the beeping camionette that he rented so that I could show him pieces of my Provence, including, finally, Arles.

So how do you explain it?

I dig for sustainable answers.

We drank quite a bit when we were together. There was something of the "Oh, hooray!" of celebration in the beginning when we were reunited, that fierce recognition, and then trying, or subtly forcing, to prolong that feeling later with occasionally problematic results. Prosecco as lighter fluid.

At one particular twenty past midnight, the Cinderella of our story vanished without a pumpkin coach. Stripped to the who of we are with nary a glass slipper in the alley left to make a fairytale.

But this is not everything.

There are so many deeply profound misunderstandings in our loves. It is not only roses that bloom. And for it all, well, finally...we can only do our best to hold them with forgiveness. There is no rancour. Only those haunting tsk-tsk whispers of regret. He still is the same exceptional man, this Christophe, who I kissed in return, deeply, on our first date at Le Train Bleu I found him to be so funny, intelligent, creative, handsome, interesting to the point of being a bit mysterious. All of this, even though he had been 45 minutes late.

Maybe we were 45 minutes late. Perpetually.

I will just leave you with something that my Mom said a while back (who, along with my Sister met him this past Spring and instantly appreciated him): "Heather, he can be the most wonderful man in the world...but that doesn't mean that he is the right man for you."

How I have cried. I can't think that he imagines how much. Or that he would occupy himself to do so. Maybe he has cried too, although I have a hard time imagining it, as well. Perhaps he is relieved? Just that...the not really knowing is proof of our not having stayed aligned. We were often unreadable to each other beyond the no uncertain terms of happiness. And certainly of that fuzzy word "fun," incorporated.

The older that I get, the more that I understand how incredibly important it is to have just that, empathy in all situations, communication. To imagine Cinderella (or any other icon you choose that applies) outside, alone, at twenty past midnight, stripped again of her parure, but also of her bright, bright hopes...deciding where from here she can possibly go again.

I will offer myself a hand up from the pavement, this sadness, and one to Christophe too, in Paris. If he needs it.

We lived a tiny lifetime together. Even if we were not on time for each other, it is still not too late to be on time for ourselves.




 With all gratitude,
Heather



38 comments:

  1. Well, Heather.....I'll have to think about this one for more than just a while.

    For now?....my firat reaction is to wonder ifyou know this Springsteen song?........go to:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWTjIfqrdiI

    Best wishes, as ever,

    David Terry
    Quail Roost Farm
    Rougemont, NC
    USA

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    1. Oh David. That was too perfect. Thank you. What a beautiful song...tears are falling...but that is ok.
      bisous

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  2. Very beautiful writing, Heather. It is brave of you to share your pain. Despite the loss, there is still the beauty and sheer joy of those special moments. Onwards and upwards, friend. We live. We love. We learn. And we are forever changed - for the better.

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    1. Beautifully said my dear Loree. The lessons learned will make way for something new, painful as they might be. And yes, the special moments remain.

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  3. you tube: chet baker...your choice; mine was "I fall in love....

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    1. "...I fall in love too easily..." perhaps my dear but that is just how my heart rolls...no regrets on that matter!

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    2. Me too. It's a beautiful song.

      I'm thinking of a train pulling out of Padua. I was definitely going to leave, but how could he not be there hoping I wouldn't?

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  4. Rocket .. Near perfection in the writing .. Near decimation in the empathetic feelings for you during this time .. Wishing you all the best.

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    1. Thank you Bill. You know that I usually write very quickly but I used the insomnia of a week of near sleepless nights to rework this. It was too important to try and express something deserving.

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  5. Heather,

    I am so sorry to read this. Life, love and loss...all wonderful and yet painful parts of life. Take comfort in the special happy moments you shared.

    Take care of yourself, Elizabeth

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    1. I will Elizabeth. They were truly beautifully - from the grandiose to the everyday quiet - exceptional.

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  6. merde... but listen to what your sister said, probably she is right

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    1. Yes. It is definitely the phrase that makes sense to me the most. xo

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  7. Hi Heather, as always, beautifully expressed: the joy, the frustration, and ultimately, the confusion, disappointment and sadness .... It does remind me of something Tracy McMillan (do you follow her on instagram?), a relationship expert, wrote about how every relationship is temporary. And, that is true, each one has its own lifespan. I'm so glad that you can hold on to the joyous moments from this one.

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    1. I can and I do. Because they were exceptional and truly far more in number than the painful ones. I don't know her but I will take a look. I have realized that I have actually had few relationships in my life and so can use guidance within them and certainly in healing now. Some days are better than others, but on the hard days I am absolutely baffled by how deep the pain is. There are still moments when I start crying and cannot stop.
      Much gratitude to you friend.

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  8. We are always happy to get to read your beautiful writing, but I am, of course, sorry about the circumstance. I especially admire your vulnerability in putting your adventures of the heart “out there” for all to read, but what else is an artist to do? I am no stranger to heartbreak, but after some time passes I know that it was for the best; that there were some aspects of our personalities that didn’t work together. As you know I am currently not in dating mode, and I’m grateful for this nudging from the universe to work on self love. I hope writing this gave you some relief and that time heals your heart sooner than later!

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    1. Self love, self love, self love. I really think it is THE theme that I am supposed to work on in this particular lifetime. The lesson keeps coming back (and we both know that it will continue until I heal it) in various forms. I am so blessed to have such an inspiring Sister in you to support me but also to show me what active healing looks like. I love you.

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  9. You have captured the loss of love so beautifully, and of course it reminds me of my own losses, and how much they hurt. I wish I had words to help with your healing, but I don't. That's time's job, I guess. Sending you love.

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    1. Am feeling it, thank you. Yes, I think so. But I know that I also need to keep moving through this pain mindfully. I don't want to just let it sit because it will not heal completely on its own. Right now I need a bit more time to go by to do that... xo

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  10. Heather, you never cease to amaze me with your words and your ability to share your deepest feelings ... it is a gift in so many ways. May this disappointment only lead to something that truly is meant for you. *gentle hugs*

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    1. Thank you lovely Patricia, for your support and kindness, always.

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  11. I think you are brave to have jumped in and come up for air. I don’t believe I could sustain another heart break at this age of 61. Xoox

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    1. That is his age. So he was brave too. I have to say that it is part of what hurts is also the fear. But my Mom is an amazing example. She met her wonderful husband at 65. So we don't know. I have to say that I will be in NO hurry to date again however. xooox

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  12. Your writing is beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad you can see the good. Xx

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  13. Heartbreak mingled with happiness — and barring the insomnia (I am sorry to hear that) you sound so well. So centered. And as ever, brave.
    I see that loving soul of yours shining through. Hoping this finds you when you wake after a wonderful night of sleep. xox

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    1. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for all of the beauty in this message. My sleeping is still a mess. My heart is not at rest and it won't let my body rest either. But I will remember all of the kindness in these messages at the next 4am and I know that it will soothe me.

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  14. Ah, sweetie. Life is ... strange. And difficult, and wonderful. And your writing is so gloriously honest and painful and true. Moments like this send me back to Mary Oliver's wonderful poem "The Journey". A talisman.

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    1. Oh God, that poem, Emm. Whewwww. That just about killed me. Mary Oliver is just so brilliant. I have used the imagery of bones a lot...and she is just the bones of humanity. The essence. Thank you for that gift. Life is strange and difficult and beautiful. All of my time with Christophe was a light during a time otherwise filled with struggle and exhaustion, where I currently am. I wanted to express my gratitude for that.

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  15. In the beginning it is always a bed of red roses. The scent intoxicating. Slowly you start removing the thorns and then you realize it was only a bouquet of tears. Don't stop. Go back out there and maybe try yellow this time.

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    1. My dear Daniel, I am not going out but in. For a while I think. But yes, there definitely is the issue of the enticement of the image that we present and then the reality that lies beneath. I am hoping to find someone who truly accepts both, as complex as that might be.

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  16. Be not sad that it is over, but glad that it happened. Beautifully written piece, Heather.

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  17. Maybe you should try an American guy for a change, or a brit. The language barrier would be lifted then and that might help.

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    1. I just realised that I never responded to this. C speaks amazing English. Far more than I could have hoped for, but, still, there are bumps and bruises. And I LIKE the certain way a French man is. Even when it is frustrating, at least it is real.

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  18. I am a new reader, Heather. Your words make me want to have love and heartache all over again just to feel that depth of emotion. As twee as it is, you are one of the lucky ones to have had that. An observation, too - what lovely readers you have. All my best.

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    1. Hello Catherine! Oh thank you for reading. I am so sorry to have missed your message until now. I agree, I have the best readers/ friends not met yet that a girl could ask for. I am so grateful. Most of the people that you see commenting here have been following along since the beginning too. Isn't that something.
      And yes, of course I agree with you. Even if I am still in a lot of pain... xo

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  19. So very sorry. But you described the emotions so perfectly. Thinking of you. xx

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