Araminta was always the love of my life and I hers for a time, I believe, but then it stopped. As teenagers we would run across the rocks of the Cornish beach year after year and adventures of the youthful kind was our reason for being, laced in late adolescence with poetry, a shared love of the blues and our first kiss.
Still, as we entered our twenties there was a growing difference between us: I loved “Awareness”, and felt life was nothing but a single moment experienced in different guises, are you still with me, while Araminta’s interests were possibly more grounded and certainly material.
We both came from families “down on their luck” and she felt she must use her beauty and her wit to secure a more comfortable future while she had youth to spend. She met Stephen, a worthy man and kindly, about whom we both laughed when we first met him: we were too young then to understand the value of kindness. He was clearly struck by her, and she by his lifestyle, so that my imploring her not to waste her life being over careful or strategic went unheeded: I think she grew to love him over time.
I was at their wedding because that was expected, but soon afterwards we began to drift apart. I went to university and she to the south of France where his family had a villa. Years passed during which I sought to demonstrate the power of the written word in five or six largely unread novels prompting my mother to say in a moment of encouragement “You can’t keep a good man down” to which I replied, “Perhaps I’m not a good man” making us both laugh: my mother always had a sense of humour.
I passed my life scratching a living from one unfulfilling job after another while maintaining my selfless loyalty to the well-turned phrase and the beauty of existence , keeping my faith alive with just enough “Moments of recognition”, to justify the sacrifice and so it continued into middle age.
Recently, we met it again by chance, in a hotel lobby where she was standing when I walked in to deliver a parcel. I looked very different, I am sure, but still our eyes met in recognition and she came over to me, full of warmth tinged with a sadness and said, “Still the romantic then?” and I replied, without sourness I hope, “I have integrity if nothing else” and she said, “Does it keep you warm” and I laughed and said, “What do you think?” and she said “Thinking is too dangerous.”
There you have it, for me at least: the magic and the repartee which would always bind us. She might love me, but not the cost of me yet I like to believe I was her knight, albeit without armour, and she will always be my angel without wings.