Wednesday, 27 May 2009


I fell in love once...actually, twice, three times, four...

More prosaically, I've got builder's radio know, the romantic, 'old' stuff (here in London it's called "Heart" which just about says it all). And all the songs are coming on while I'm up on me ladder. And as the moisture drips down the wall, my heart, from time to time, seeps with sudden memory and nostalgia. It's hard, in the days of family warmth and cradling, of cuddles and gentle smiles, to recall that yearning, the crazy tugging of passion. When every evening's longing seemed to stretch out for eternity across the enveloping darkness, and then some. That pain mixed with joy, bittersweet. When your whole being seems to dissolve into that internal reality. And everything is tinged with sudden light: Oh my God! A spring (or summer) morning, and suddenly: Bang! You know it. And the whole world lies before you, full of promise, full of potential, full of unknown sweetness just waiting to be milked. And if it's reciprocated: Bang! Bang! Ecstacy! Enough to keep you going in bliss, even just lying prone staring out of the window for hours, running movies in your head.

I desperately loved at sweet sixteen for the first time. Brown eyed, floppy haired, tall. A Hugh Grant of my time. I was smitten. To the roaring surges of Tschaikovsky this love affair was all-involving. I played in an orchestra at his college. Which was ivy-league style. Mine - though decent academically if you found yourself in the top 'stream' - was just on the outskirts of town, a grammar school with a crappy band. Instead, on Sundays, I immersed myself in another, Harry Potter-eske, world, and visited venerable buildings hidden inside cathedral walls, violin (my passport) under my arm. The age-old beauty of stone garlanded by old-fashioned roses; vault-shaped leaded windows overlooking silent squares of lawn; leafy muffled cloisters with cool damp shadows. Pinstriped serious young men rushing to-and-from philosophy discussions and string chamber recitals, my love amongst them. After a silence of perhaps twenty years, I received an email the other day. Difficult to know how to feel, except obviously pleased, and not-so-surprisingly relieved: I believe, no, I know, it's good to revisit good times and good people in life. And, of course, a little love remains. How could it not? What we were at sixteen is, strangely enough, and with the benefit of retrospect, the foundation of what we are today.

But,a year above me, he left back to his father's diplomatic life abroad. Our close mutual friend took his place. A different, less cerebral, less romantic love - but a passion no less, based on unconventionality and creative temperament, mutual artistic masturbation, if you will. Pragmatic and reassuring. He had his girlfriends. I had my love, still abroad, as I waited weeks for letters (oh how things must be different nowadays with email! How easy they've got it, the teenagers of today, in long-distance affairs of the heart!) My new 'best friend' wanted to be an architect, and he was alternative. We dressed in black and wrote poetry. We gatecrashed crazy parties in remote mansions, rich kids stuff with all sorts of debauchery going on, the mice playing whilst parents away, and my mother never worried, she'd trust this charming rather shy young man until the cows came home. And it was true. I was always safe with him, despite our bohemian leanings. Morally, physically, emotionally safe. It wasn't love but as close as friendship can get to it. Actually, it would've been the perfect union. The perfect marriage. No emotional currency to bartar, everything out in the open, total acceptance and nothing to lose. Again, we got back in touch a couple of years ago. Surprise, surprise, he runs an environmentally-friendly architectural studio. But we've yet to meet up. Perhaps we don't want to spoil the heady magic of those days: the feeling that we wore our destinies as tortured artistic souls branded on our foreheads for none but our breathren to see. And find out we've all turned into ordinary, boring, everyday people.

Many years later I loved an older man. Dangerously close to the father complex thing. We used to work together, driving across the border from Italy to Switzerland for our work in import/export. There was always, for me, a whiff of naughtiness about the whole thing. For a start the outfit wasn't quite above board. And he was married. And twice my age. He never knew I loved him, until it was too late. I left countries to escape: the dodgy job, him, and my conscience. A case of the affair risque' that never was.

And then, my husband. There were travails, to be sure. Family against us, culture and background held against me. I moved abroad again, this time for him, then fled our home back to London a year later. Ultimatums,tears, remonstrations, reconciliations. And then marriage and two children and it all became very... normal.

Looking back, I need to grab that passion, in these soon-to-be-middle-aged times when I feel it's almost left me. Grab it and inject it into my veins again, to inspire, to move. And to make me feel, once again, the smooth, stretching, eternity of a summer evening, and the unlimited potential of my life before me. I look in the mirror and still see myself, thank God. But. But - to FEEL myself, the self I was at sixteen, the unfettered and untarnished me. I don't ever want to look in the mirror, and not only think the stray gray hairs and lines aren't really me, but feel the wrinkles on my soul aren't, either. I don't want to regret the slacking dents in my potential just as I mourn the elasticity of my skin. I don't want to lose grip of that last clutch of my younger, promising self and feel the passion and exuberance of youth slip through my fingers, a last stroking touch before it's gone, leaving a void. I Mustn't. I'd lose a part of me. Or myself. My true self.

1 comment:

  1. Ah. Passion.

    I sit here in my happy cocoon, loved and loving, and still somehow miss the passion of youthful loves.

    Can we still experience that remembered passion as 30-somethings? I wonder sometimes.