Wednesday, 19 January 2011

January 2001, January 2011

It was a cowardly way of doing it, sending you an e-mail, but I wasn't sure I could say it to your face. My finger hovered over the keyboard for a long time before I clicked on send. I knew it was only a couple of days before your birthday, so not much of a birthday greeting, but I felt sure it was the right thing to do.

I tried not to think about how you'd react, focused instead on reinforcing my sense of me, taking solace in the notion that there were no cracks in my defences, nothing to undermine my independence. I'd got a new job and was earning more money, I was inching my way back towards the sort of life I'd had before. I'd even found a new house that was closer to where I'd lived when I was married and the children were small.

It was a ridiculous house, an old gatekeeper's lodge, for a big house that no longer existed. It was built in the shape of a cross, each of the tiny rooms leading on to another one, and each of them with three outside walls, so it was always cold. When I'd gone to view it, I'd been intrigued by the odd little building tucked behind a high brick wall, swamped by its overgrown garden. I'd been bewitched by the big open fireplace in the lounge, the full height stained glass window in the kitchen, the long attic bedroom with its windows looking out over the garden, that made me think of Anne of Green Gables. It was totally impractical for a single mother with four teenage children, but I loved it none-the-less. Perhaps it was its smallness in a street full of expensive detached houses, maybe it was the defiant way it had remained standing long after the big house was demolished. Somehow it spoke to me, made me feel like this was the place where I'd start to rebuild, put down some roots, grasp some confidence in life.

Of course I only half knew you then, I hadn't yet learnt that you don't easily take no for an answer, I hadn't realised that the surest way to get you to act is to tell you to do the opposite thing.  Nowadays I could predict how you'd respond to my e-mail, but ten years ago I hadn't expected that you'd still want to see me, to try and talk me round. When you arrived on my doorstep, you looked tired. You accepted my offer of a tuna sandwich as though it were the finest cuisine, as though I was offering you so much more than some tinned fish in a slice of bread. And I guess I was, even if I didn't yet know it.

We went for a walk, a long meandering stroll around the local streets and towards the park. I remember how you stopped me at one point, held my arm and turned me to face you. So intent on making me believe, making me trust you, you almost shouted at me "I'm putting my head on the block for you. I'm giving you the axe". It was, and still is, the most romantic thing anyone ever said to me.

Shortly after that, when we found ourselves sitting on a park bench, holding on to each other while snowflakes fell all around, I think you started to believe that it would all turn out ok.

Tonight you're sitting upstairs, waiting for me to stop tapping away at the laptop and come to bed. We don't live in the strange house any more but we've found ourselves a home in the best place in the world. When you wake up in the morning, it will be ten years to the day since you turned up at my door. I couldn't have asked or wished for a better decade. I hope there will be many more.


23 comments:

Kristen said...

It's so personal...I love it! Very nice and sweet. It's great to read something pleasant for once. Congrats on a great decade!

Eryl said...

Wow Sharon this is so powerful. Congratulations to you both!

ps. I'd have bought that house too.

Mladen said...

Really personal indeed and a pleasure to read.

Philip said...

Dearest S,
I'm enormously flattered. It's been great hasn't it? And we've got ages left. What will we do in the next ten years? I know that whatever it brings we will go through it together. So I know it will be very fine indeed. Thank you.
Love and decades,
P.

Cath said...

Lovely, so very lovely.

NanU said...

Magnificent, Sharon. May you always be so happy!

Baglady said...

Just wonderful. Not sure what else to say. Lovely piece written with the lightest touch.

Congrats on ten years.

otherworldlyone said...

This was beautiful. You two are an inspiration - for your talented way with words and your loving relationship.

I can honestly say I never really cared much about having that sort of relationship until I began reading N & K and you and Philip. Now I hope I one day get the chance to write about someone the way you all do.

Congrats. :)

Liza Ursu said...

I love ridiculous houses, I live in one myself.
Thank you for sharing this piece.
Cheers to the decade!
Cheers to many more!

dys·func·tion said...

Any great relationship is worth the hard work.
Congratulations, I hope there are many more.

Jayne said...

Sharon - what a beautiful love letter. On our very first date, my husband and I spent the entire afternoon and evening walking the roads of Boston proper.
That was more than twenty years ago, and it's still one of the sweetest memories. So much can be accomplished by taking a long walk.

Pat said...

There is something so magical about sharing your life with the right person. Ten,twenty,thirty years are not enough. But then there's always Heaven. I tell myself.

Mr London Street said...

I think anybody who reads you or Philip gets a reasonable idea how lucky you are to have one another, and having been fortunate enough to meet you both in person the nicest thing I can say about your writing on this occasion is that it does your relationship justice.

caterpillar said...

This is such a beautiful post....and I wish you both many many years of love and happiness together...

Jane said...

Beautiful and tender and I also wish you many, many more years together.

Liz said...

Your writing is so subtle Sharon. That was beautiful. Here's to many more seasons together.

christy said...

Amazing writing! Very powerful, very personal story here. It is fantastic.

Corte Inglesa said...

How lovely. And VERY romantic. Congratulations on your decade.

Robbie Grey said...

That's very touching.

Jennifer Scavone said...

love your blog! =) if you want to visit mine you can at http://jenniferscavone.blogspot.com

look forward to seeing you there! =)

Ciao!

Sharon Longworth said...

I've been really touched by the comments that people have left for this post. It's a bit odd writing publicly about something so personal, and I wasn't too sure how people would respond - but I should have guessed that you'd all be just lovely. Thank you!

The Mad Fat Girl said...

That is a beautiful post...looking at then and now and all the time in between...and how you've grown. I can only hope that one day I might have a semblance of that. Congratulations on a great decade and hope you have many more like this together! :)

Brenda Susan said...

So very beautiful!