At forty years old I secretly hankered for adventure, the promised land, peace, social standing and a secure home even if those disparate goals were always jostling for my attention. Married yes, but not loved: trapped within a barren home yet protected by social standing, I still dreamed of that perfect romance: the final escape and the search for new horizons not offered by my current domestic circumstances.
My wife loved prestige and my surroundings offered her that but more by accident than planning: a detail to which she paid no attention. All this is/ was everything and nothing until I was called to a conference at a London hotel involving a two nights stay.
You’ve already guessed it, I know: the love of my life was at the bar and ready for me to buy her drinks regardless of expense. She was elegant, aloof, vulnerable but in that defiant way which takes the breath away from certain men; I am one of them. She asked me what I did for a living and I replied “I can’t remember” which amused her for a while and led her to spending another moment with me.
Lost souls have their own connection but without centre, plan or address so as drinks were poured we shared our frustrations and misfortunes which had kept us from reaching the promised land: we discovered we had both been to the Galapagos Islands which memory we treasured. Later she joined me in my room, partly disrobed, it must be said, yet sitting in a chair at some distance from my own, don’t ask me why.
We had kissed with wild abandon in the lift, my wife and children forgotten in the heated euphoria the moment offered: I told myself she would stay with me always and make each day an adventure but. somehow, by the time I opened the door to my room she had collected herself and become the detached person I presume she normally was.
After a moment of silence she asked me“Do you love yourself?” and I replied “I’m sure I will do once we meet” and without another word she rose and left the room. She was to lost herself perhaps: a mermaid teasing drifting souls from the shores of life but she did not need me adding to her woes. Like her, I realised, I must collect myself, complete my work and return home and continue pretending I was a happy man: that is what common sense dictated.