I came across her as she was walking down some road in the dark, with the rain pouring off her face and back, and I demanded she just get in the car and out of the weather till she muttered “Pervert” and climbed in anyway. I’d never met someone like her; who looked at common sense, and then tossed it out the window like it was a sandwich wrapper.
I never got to the heart of who she was, but she ‘got’ me in her lucid moments, more than anyone else I’ve ever met, or that was my impression. Between her affairs with ‘Weed,’ and drunken nights of partying with other men she might come to me and tell me ” You are the only one who understands me” and I took that to be praise, or the sign I had strength, or was someone special or just plain stupid. Nothing, I now understand, disarms a man of certain years more than tenderness. We get so little don’t we? Once we leave our youth, and only then if we’ve been lucky, and I was as hung out as any man can be but didn’t know it.
Her stock phrase, “Whatever gets you through” was often in use about me, or any topic we might discuss. She was exuberant when high: up for anything, and in those blissful hours and days, when we were first together, I became the happiest man alive. She made me feel understood: celebrated even, like no one had before. Oh how I loved her in those early days and weeks, but we both know the story don’t we. I mean I already knew the story, but attention makes you forget what you know. Someone pretty, like her, smiling at me, and saying you’ve got nice eyes, was like something out of a film and I just drowned in a smile I took to be tender and loving and personal. She had the understanding which comes from being lost, and meeting her dismantled my certainties
Later, as the vapour cleared my brain, I realised the moment was not personal. It was more about regret, and the lives she would never lead: the unborn children, the house with mown lawn and paid-for furniture she feared would not be hers. She longed to be ‘normal’ as much as I longed to be reckless and we met somewhere in the middle; crashed is, perhaps, the better word, as our needs and dreams ground against each other in this unformed universe.
I loved the look and feel of her, and the way her hair tickled me as she lay on the pillow by my side, and how the fear and aggression flowed out of her face as she slept. In slumber she became that sweet being I would protect and love above all things: vulnerable was a word she hated, but at night she could be that, at least to me.
I remember saying to her one morning, “It may be necessary for me you to marry me” and she just laughed at me as if I was clutching at a dream, which, of course, I was. Is there some note we play, which only a few people can hear, and as the sound of it rises and is lost among the clouds they reach out to seek its origin. Am I dreaming too much? Was I that note for her or merely a roadside café where she stopped to catch her breath.
One day she was gone, no explanation given, and that window to another world closed with her exit. Where she went, or why, I cannot tell you, but she has spoiled me for life. I no longer want death by common sense, or low-carb food, or tending to the normalcies of routine. I want to drink from darkness and adventure, and the religion of a moment, but now, with only timidity and lack of imagination as my guides, I am both cowardly and lost.
Our lives are unwritten epics, every one of them, and patterns and circumstance repeat themselves in that cycle of unlearned lessons we call history while our ancestors look down on us from above and shake their heads. We dance between fear and courage, and flirt with fragments of self-knowledge but she taught me this: that love may be worth more than ‘common sense.’ Through her, adventure waved to me from the shadows and was gone