Thursday, 6 April 2017

Two weeks ago.

Coincidentally both Joy and Karen only live a few miles from my daughter Where I've been working or more precisely slaving of late. You see Dads are cheaper than builders and you can moan at them constantly, unlike the builders, who will strut off and won't come back for a few days until you've learned your lesson and buy chocolate biscuits to go with their tea. So after a day of no chocolate covered baked treats to go with my tea and being moaned at , I smartened myself up and headed off to the agreed destination.
I parked, locked the car and had just enough time to sucked the life out of a mint from the pack in my pocket, as I walked up to the local theatre. It has a coffee bar for those not interested in the Arts but instead need somewhere to go if it rains or they're meeting ex lovers after many years have past. 
As I climbed the steps I started to feel nervous. Was this a good idea, would it have been best to just leave things as they were, should I make my escape now? Before I could turn and run there was a, "Hey wait for me." It was Joy. Now what? a hug, handshake or hand over my passport to prove who I was. I managed a feeble "Oh hello, how are you?" "OK thanks" as she swept past. Maybe she's a little nervous too I thought or maybe she's building up for the big public slapping she's going to give me once inside. We join the queue in the coffee bar, I tried to remember the moves I'd been taught in Karate to fend off furious ex girlfriends armed with cafeteria trays. "One tea, one flat white please." We sit down and things are a little frosty. Way back then, before mobile phones and CD's. Yes it's really been that long. Joy could be a little quite and shy, especial with strangers around but I'd temporally forgotten this and was just keeping an eye out for sharp objects within her reach. We awkwardly manoeuvred around the usual.
"Did you have to come far?" "No."
"Was your journey ok?" "Yes."
"Are you sure you don't want cake to go with your tea?" "No, I don't"
Fortunately her sister and Terry arrived before the uneasy silence did. Now Karen takes talking as seriously as Usain Bolt takes the 100 metres and probably has a bigger trophy cabinet. So for the next 45 minutes things moved briskly. She occasionally asks Terry to confirm or share something with us and he usually manages two or three words before Karen finished his sentences. So no change after thirty odd years there then. In fact they hadn't changed, the three of them were almost the same as they were all those years ago. A little older round the eyes and Terry's ponytail was now grey (did he keep that just to make me jealous?) but other than that exactly the same. Karen and Terry left after about an hour. With the usual exchange of "Lets do this again, it was really fun." Terry had accepted he wasn't going to get a word in, so nodded, smiled alot and was probably wondering if Karen would ever be struck down with a severe case of laryngitis at some point in the near future and allow him the luxury to hold court and tell all of his near silent years spent with the lovely but never quite Karen.
Joy and I moved to the bar downstairs. Things were easier now. We both swapped stories. Joy about her various jobs. She had worked in fashion her whole career (if I haven't already said. We met while at Art College(s) and clever thing that she was/is stuck with it, unlike you author) so lots of travel. She updated me on friends back then and how they are doing. Most of them I'm happy to write are doing ok. She had no partner or children so I told her about my dysfunctional marriage and  dysfunctional kids. The weird bunch of jobs I'd had, primarily to pay the bills and keep the little ones in Disney videos. I think that made her feel better.
It was strange, sitting opposite someone who had been the first person I had consciously fallen in love with, who looked almost exactly the same. Had the same mannerisms and same kooky fashion sense. Talking to me as if a few weeks had past and not closer to four decades. Our time was over, I offered her a lift home but kept quite about the mints. She accepted and probably wondered if I had any mints. Driving or being driven is a good place to be when talking about delicate issues. You're close together but not looking at each other. Ones concentrating on driving while the other is trying to work out the odds on whether they'll survive the journey. I apologised to Joy for being such a twat all those years ago and she graciously said maybe she could of worked a little harder at the relationship and we should have talked things though more. Overal though it was a happy time for her. We swap phone numbers and agree to meet up again soon, this time without Karen and Terry. As I'm driving I get a text thanking me for a nice evening and hoping I get home safely. I still think I made the right decision not to mention the mints though.

Onwards and upwards, in pursuit of fulfilment :-)))

Ps we've exchanged a few texts over the last week and plan another tea, flat white and no cake very soon.


  1. ::whew::: Now I can stop holding my breath!! You finished the story!

    Or wait... is this a beginning of a new one? Hmm.

    I was in contact a few years ago with two guys. One who broke my heart and one whose heart I broke. Both of those things were unintentional, the love just wasn't there for one of us or the other. We exchanged emails, we all live to far apart to meet up, but everyone's heart has been mended now.

  2. I'm glad you got to contact your old flames. It's nice to bring a bit of closure where you can.
    I'd hope Joy and I stay in touch. Whether it's the begining of another story would depend how long it takes me to sort myself out. So I wouldn't go looking for a hat just yet Aims :)