20. Lonesome day

 

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

Springsteen, The Rising

 

Stupidly, I’d only booked a three-week stay that second trip and they flew by with alarming speed. There is so much you need to cram in when time is short. Ultimately, it can never be enough. And so, too quickly, the day came when, once again, we had to say our farewells.

This time, the kids insisted on coming with us to the airport and I had four people to say goodbye to instead of just one, so my sorrow was multiplied. I knew it was tearing Jersey girl apart, but she kept a brave face for the kids and I tried to do the same. As I held her in one last embrace, I felt a void begin to open in my chest which only continued to grow over the course of the long flight home.

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I remember dropping my bags on the floor of my apartment when I got back and just breaking down. How much longer could I keep doing this?

By now, you’re thinking, what is your problem man? Why not just move there permanently and be done?

Those are good questions; very good. The answers require a little background context.

I’ve mentioned already that I, like Jersey girl, am a parent; I have a son. He is a beautiful young man; intelligent, handsome, and conscientious to a fault. At the time Jersey girl and I began, he was about seventeen. He lived with his mother in a small town called Castlemaine about an hour and a half outside Melbourne by train; a fact which had made the years of shared custody particularly grueling. His mother and I had parted when he was small (her choice) and she’d quickly remarried and moved him out of the city.

I’m not quite sure why I didn’t make this more difficult for her, I probably should have, but in the end, I agreed not to veto the move. And so for a good ten years, I had to make the regular trips out to the country to pick him up and drop him off. I mention this only because I believe all that travelling together helped build the incredibly strong bond he and I share.

As soon as I was quite certain that my plans with Jersey girl would eventually mean relocating to the States, I sat down with him and we discussed the ramifications. To my relief, he was all for it. He was just glad in the end that his old dad had found a bit of happiness. I realized at that point he’d been worried about me for a while, probably scared I was going to end up alone.

With my son’s blessing, Jersey and I began to plan how I would make the move to her side of the world. It was all progressing slowly but surely and, if things had gone to schedule, I’d currently be writing this in New Jersey instead of Melbourne.

What’s the old saying, man plans, God laughs?

I was out with some friends one Saturday evening when I felt the familiar vibration of an incoming text. We’d just climbed into the car to head home and I remember struggling to get my phone out of my Jeans pocket. When I looked at the screen, my world suddenly swam around me.

Dad, mums sick. Dad, she has cancer.

I could feel his shock and panic in the phrasing of the text and I well understood it because I had just been punched in the face by those self-same emotions.

What came next was very hard on my boy. The cancer was terminal and all there was for him to do was be there while his mum slowly faded.

All of this almost feels too personal to write about, but I feel I have to because it has had such a lasting impact upon all of our lives.

His mother’s fight lasted about a year. During that time, I was there for him as much as I could be, not as much as I wanted to be, and he never ceased to impress me with his grace and strength. I had lost my own mother to the bastard disease (though at nowhere near such a tender age) and I knew the pain he was facing.

I was carrying some myself.

Though my relationship with his mother had ended acrimoniously, I had shared my life with her for nine years. We had been through the birth of our son together and I had cut the cord which joined them with my own hand. You don’t just disregard such bonds.

On her final day, I travelled up to Castlemaine to see her one last time. She wasn’t conscious, but I sat with her, holding her unbelievably frail hand and let myself feel the realness of what was occurring. It was the opposite of the void I had felt at the airport as I left my love behind. It filled me like a welling spring bubbling up from deep down below. It was grief and despair. And it was inescapable certainty.

As if the whole thing were a scene from some heavy-handed movie (or perhaps the song Lightning Crashes), the sound of another woman, in the throes of her labor, were coming loudly through the wall from the adjacent room.

His mother passed in the middle of the night and I felt the cold certainty that my son’s life would now never be the same.

It was at the funeral service that I finally realized my child had become a man; and such a man. When his time came to speak, he stepped up to the podium, looking like a young Ulysses. He laid his notes down before him and then gazed out into the crowded room taking in every face. When he began to speak, his voice was deep and calm as he recited the lay of his mother.

He compared her to a tree, under the branches of which, he and his younger sister had grown in safety and contentment….

“She always stood true to her intent, no one could tell her otherwise. The imperfections of her character were few. Burns and broken branches – as any good tree will have – did not stop her from flourishing in her own modest way. And in retrospect, even they served as selfless lessons for our benefit.

“She worked hard, from the beginning of her life until the very end, her every action a valiant choice towards her belief in a better future for us, ahead of herself and the more immediate opportunities she could have had in her time here. We were so lucky to be her children.”

He never wavered, not for a moment. Even when recounting his mother’s passing.

“But when the fight was done and all the final goodbyes were said, only when the last watchmen went to sleep did she pass, as selfless in that moment as ever.”

The room was weeping now, but his face remained serene. He gazed out past us and began to speak without looking down at his papers.

“She was so fundamental to me that I could describe her as elemental; unflinching and stubborn as mountains, fierce and beautiful as fire, as intricate and intelligent as the veins on a leaf, as kind as an autumn breeze, and as real as the smell of the earth when it rains.”

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At least twenty people came up to my side at the wake specifically to say, you must be so proud of him today. Pride didn’t begin to describe it. I was in awe of my son. And I was terrified.

He was too calm, too composed. I knew he hadn’t even touched upon his own grief yet and I was in fear of what would happen if it were delayed too long. Understand, this is an incredibly empathetic young man. Some people can process their grief and pass on from it seemingly untouched. I knew my boy; there were deep, deep wells of pain within him, but he wasn’t even ready to dip a toe yet.

I knew then, I couldn’t just up and leave; not for a time at least. And indeed, the months that followed were an undeniably hard road for him, he needed his remaining parent to help guide him through. Jersey girl was in complete agreement. It would be tough on us both, but we had always said, the kids come first.

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Over a year has now passed since his mother’s passing and I see him growing into a stronger and more resilient version of himself with every passing week. He has moved to Melbourne and was recently offered a place at University, having worked diligently at a fairly menial job for the better part of this past year.

Last weekend, He travelled to Tasmania to carry out his mother’s last wish; that her ashes be scattered over the Gordon River, a place that she loved.

He is still troubled at times by all that has occurred, but he has taken measures that have helped him begin to come to terms with it all.

I, at last, feel that I can pick up my own plans where I left off.

It was difficult to write this post, many memories have been stirred up from the sediment of my own psyche. However, I can see that things have slowly come back into line and that my son is now looking mostly ahead. I am so grateful for that.

I’m also grateful for all the patience and support that Jersey girl has shown throughout this long ordeal. It’s just further proof, as if any were needed, that she is the one.

The images in this post are my own.

©2016

19. She’s the one

 

Don’t run back inside
darlin’ you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinkin’
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me

Springsteen, Thunder Road

 

The Boss’ fans tend to love that line, you ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright, finding  humour in the protagonist’s seeming ambivalence towards his girl, but what is Springsteen really saying here?

He’s certainly not implying that the girl, Mary, is unattractive. No one woos a girl they’re not attracted to, certainly not with the determination of this song’s Rev-headed hero. No one (other than the smitten) uses the phrase ‘like a vision’. And few notice when an unattractive girl’s dress sways.

I think the truth we all know is that Mary is indeed a beauty; in the eyes of the protagonist at least. When I picture her, I see small town, ‘girl next door’ pretty. I see the kind of beauty that the unobservant sometimes call plain; the kind of beauty that suddenly bursts forth in the smile that lights up a room and eyes that glitter with secret delight.

I see my Jersey girl.

I fell in love before I really knew what she looked like, I think I’ve probably already mentioned that. And, of course, the same was true for her. Yes, we sent each other pictures, but pictures lie, or rather we are liars to ourselves – and the world – in the pictures we pick to represent us. It’s a subconscious process generally, a form of self-interested censorship and we are all guilty of it to one degree or another. Photos, therefore, give a sense of the person, but it is a woefully incomplete representation of the reality.

No, only when standing face to face can one see the true skin.

So, when the moment came, what did I see?

Remarkably, a perfect physical reflection of the extraordinary woman I’d come to know – and love – in the cyber realm. Her eyes were so deeply dark they were like near black pearls (the sort of eyes women once poisoned themselves with belladonna to achieve), becoming sparkling crescents whenever her lips formed a smile – and oh that smile.

Above all else, it was that smile.

When this jaded curmudgeon deigns to smile, it’s as if my cheeks must first become cranes, hoisting up the reluctant corners of my mouth. At such rare times, the rest of my face retains, at best, a pensive aspect; refusing to commit to the moment. By contrast, when Jersey girl smiles, her whole face joins in and it’s as if someone suddenly brought the house lights up in the middle of the show.

The moment I saw that smile, I knew I was lost. I was never going to be out of love again.

You ain’t a beauty Jersey girl, you’re the beauty and the light by which I now view my entire world.

So roll down that window and let the wind blow back your hair…

©2016

18. The River

There’s diamonds in the sidewalk there’s gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There’s treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land

Springsteen, American Land

That winter, Jersey girl and I took a drive down the Delaware to Washington’s crossing. This was right towards the end of my second visit and so was inevitably tinged with a certain sadness. I must say, however, that day remains one of my most magical memories of the entire three weeks.

We began in Frenchtown. This had actually been the scene of the mini-drama I wrote about in my post Iceman, but that had all occurred on the far-flung outskirts of the town. I had not, at that point, seen the town proper and this encounter left a very different impression.

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View of the bridge from the Bridge.

Frenchtown lies on the Jersey side of the mighty Delaware River. It is a bit of a magnet for arty, bohemian, hipster types and so, for a slightly out of the way little village, it has quite a culturally vibrant aesthetic.

We lunched at the Bridge Café which, as the name implies, is situated adjacent to the steel girder bridge that spans the river over to PA. The food was great and the coffee more than decent (a huge relief for me – I’m from Melbourne, where really good coffee is everywhere you go – In Jersey? Not so much). After eating we wandered around the town a little. It really is a charming little place and well worth a visit.

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Then we got back in the car, crossed the bridge and headed down towards our ultimate destination; Washington’s crossing. The drive alongside the river on the Pennsylvania side is so beautiful. There are many houses and villages that date back to colonial times, so you can well imagine how stunning a lot of it looked under a blanket of snow.

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Everywhere we looked there was food for the eyes and I think I was grinning and clicking the camera for the entire drive. The only largish sized town between Frenchtown and the crossing is New Hope. If you love a little colour, I recommend New Hope. It is made up almost entirely of bars, restaurants and galleries. If you do find yourself there, try Marsha Brown a very cool place to eat situated in what was once an old church.

After many ‘oooh’ moments, we eventually arrived at Washington’s crossing. I shouldn’t really have to remind anyone of the significance of this place, but educations being what they are these days; I’ll include a little context.

In 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, General Washington’s army was driven out of New Jersey by the British and forced to winter, under very difficult conditions, in Pennsylvania. It was becoming clear that the brutal snows and the series of defeats and retreats that had been suffered had taken a heavy toll of his men. Soldiers were beginning to desert in droves and Washington knew that, if he didn’t do something decisive soon, He would lose his army.

He decided to go on the offensive. This was virtually unheard of in those times. Armies bunkered down in the winter and fought when the weather was more hospitable. Washington, therefore, knew that the German Hessians, garrisoned in Trenton and celebrating Christmas, would not be expecting an attack.

The crossing took place around 11pm on Christmas day and from the start things didn’t go to plan. He had split his army into three units and only a portion, rowing through the ice filled water in small boats, made it to the other side at the appointed time. It was therefore with a somewhat denuded force that Washington attacked Trenton the following morning, 26th December.

Despite these setbacks, Washington took the Hessians completely by surprise and, in a matter of an hour or two, had captured the town and close to a thousand prisoners. Due to a lack of troops and artillery, he could not hold the town and ultimately the victory was more symbolic than strategic. However, this success put fresh spirit into the hearts of the patriots and probably helped turn the tide of war in favour of the rebel cause.

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There’s a convenient bridge there now.

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Jersey girl and I wandered around the historic buildings that have been left, pretty much, as they were at the time of the revolution. It was an idyllic way to spend an afternoon and I found it hard to believe that in just a few short days, we would have to part again. I gazed around at the gleaming snow and tried to imagine being back in the sticky heat of a Melbourne summer. Somehow, my brain just didn’t want to make that jump.

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We drove back over the same route we’d come by and I really enjoyed seeing it all over again. I think that was the day I absolutely knew that this was a place where I could make a life. I’d long been committed to Jersey girl as my true ‘home’, but in that moment, I committed myself fully to America.

I can’t really think of a more apt place to have made that commitment.

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All images in this post are my own.

©2016

17. Finding You

 

Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I’ll be there on time and I’ll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town

Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town.

 

You’re out there looking for something your whole life, no matter who you are. And you keep searching for that thing until you either find it or die looking. Even when you tell yourself you’ve given up; compromised, settled, you never stop looking.

Now, maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic (I’ve been called much worse), but for me, that thing was a very particular kind of love. I’d drifted through most of my adult years always feeling like there was a glass partition between me and whomever I believed I had fallen in love with at the time. And no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get close enough to feel – safe.

I came to see it as pathology, began to believe there was something fundamentally wrong in me. I would meet someone; smart, beautiful, caring, and try to fall in love with them in the way I knew love was meant to be.

Somehow, though, that sheet of glass was always there. We’d have a brief honeymoon period where she was everything in my universe and I was certain that this time this one was the one. And then, the day would come when I’d smack my nose up against that glass wall again.

It wasn’t that suddenly I didn’t care. It was just that sinking realization that she was not the love I came here for.

It all comes down to this, can I be the real me, at all times, in front of her?

The answer, for me, was always ultimately…..no.

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Most of the time we feel the need to wear masks. It’s a self-defeating attempt to present ourselves to the world in the best possible light. We only want others to see our caring side, our empathetic side, our depth, and sensitivity. We’re not quite so keen on sharing our unspoken thoughts, our past transgressions, or our deepest, darkest predilections. Those things are much harder to cop to because we believe they are the things that will send people running in the opposite direction.

And the truth is, if they are not the right one for you, they probably will run. However, if they really are that singular person….

Never in a million years could I ever have imagined that I would find my one amongst the oceanic babel of the internet (preposterous). And never had I contemplated the notion that my perfect love might turn out to be a mother of three, dealing with a fractured marriage and living in semi-rural New Jersey, USA. That just wasn’t in my frame at all.

Nevertheless, the moment we began to communicate, we both felt it; connection, deep, deep connection; the undeniable certainty that here was a person who desperately wanted the real, the raw. Here was someone who just got it. And when both parties feel that, it’s like a bush fire, it consumes everything.

We would communicate publicly almost every day but message each other only occasionally and sporadically. Sometimes several weeks would go by without any private contact at all, but it always felt so amped each time we did talk; more so than the actual conversation itself would often seem to merit.

I think we were both telling ourselves lies at this point; pretending we weren’t feeling what we obviously and demonstrably were.

Neither of us was looking to start something and both of us wanted nothing else.

You can only pretend for so long. Once the heart decides, there is an inevitability about where you are headed. You can ignore it, you can fight it, but in the end, the heart always grabs the reins.

I cannot express what an enormous relief it has been to discover that the glass partition is not a permanent fixture. I am not a mutant freak, I can, in fact, feel love in exactly the way I’d always imagined.

I guess I can stop worrying about whether or not I’m some kind of narcissist or sociopath (in my experience, actual narcissists & sociopaths never worry about that). I’ve simply been struggling with an overwhelming imperative to find the person who could match my need; intensity for intensity.

I realise now, how much expectation I’ve put upon partners, over the years, none of whom had a hope of meeting those expectations. Perhaps reading this, you think me unreasonable, that I placed too many conditions upon my love, but I can’t see it that way. I have this beautiful soul in my life now precisely because I never gave up my search for that singular one.

That fact justifies everything I’ve had to do and endure; all the loss, all the heartbreak. I wish I could have achieved it with fewer false starts, but in the end, I regret none of it. I was the person I was when Jersey girl found me, purely because I’d been shaped by all those experiences.

I wouldn’t change one thing.

Words and image used in this post are my own.

©2016

16. Iceman

 

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.

 

Winter in New Jersey is a movable feast. Your relationship to it – like any relationship I guess – depends to a large degree on how familiar you have become. I arrived with very few reference points and no preconceptions whatsoever, so I absolutely loved it; initially at least.

I have a very visual-based connection with the world, so there is much for me to experience and appreciate in a northern winter. Seeing silent fields of white, like incomplete sketches, roughed in with broken strokes – skeletal thickets and damped fence lines – sets my pulse racing.

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The Red Mill at Clinton

If you haven’t grown up with the regular cycle of departing and returning snows, it’s wondrous to witness the transformation of the land. It is a magical thing; and not just from a visual perspective. Just as the snowfalls soften and distort hard, physical features, they similarly affect the routine noise of life. Without hard surfaces to rebound off, sound simply doesn’t travel as far.

Different perspectives

When you are new to this magic, it can make the ordinary world feel like a ride through a giant theme park.

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Church on the road to Frenchtown.

If you are only too familiar with it, however, it can be an entirely different kind of ride. For Jersey girl – a divorced, working mother to three school aged kids – winter in New Jersey was an endless cycle of shovelling snow, getting the kids to school, shovelling more snow, picking the kids up from school and shovelling snow.

Between all the shovelling and child taxiing there was her actual job, the keeping of which was not made any easier by the frankly ridiculous number of ‘snow days’ that the schools pulled on parents who worked and had nobody at home.

As you can imagine, Jersey was not quite as entranced by the beauty of it all as was I. She did, however, valiantly suffer all the oohs and aahs that rather annoyingly escaped from me every time we drove anywhere. She’s a trooper.

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I’ll admit, however, that after the third or fourth experience of digging the frozen car out of her drive, the shine was coming off the icicle for me a little too.

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Carcicle

Then the car broke down…. again.

Two trips to Jersey, two rides in a tow truck. It was starting to feel like a pattern was forming.

Now, the first time the old clunker had crapped out had been kind of fun in a perverse way. We’d just hung out together and made a time of it. After all, the weather was warm, we were in love and we had nowhere else we really needed to be.

This time, we broke down on the way back from the market and the kids were home alone. We’d only intended to be away for about half an hour and figured the eldest, who was fifteen, would be fine holding down the fort. There was no real need for panic, but it did lend a certain air of urgency to the situation that had definitely not been a feature of the last such incident.

We got the tow driver to drop us off at home and then take the poor excuse for a car on to Jersey’s mechanic in Frenchtown to have whatever the problem was sorted out.

However, when we got the thing back on the following Friday, it still wasn’t right and we had to drive it back over there on Monday morning and wait for him to fix it properly.

That was where we made the big mistake that taught me a very valuable lesson about New Jersey winters.

The big mistake

We could tell the mechanic wasn’t at all keen on having people hang around his shop for hours while he worked, so we decided to walk to a diner Jersey liked about a mile down the road.

It was a brisk day, but we were pretty well rugged up and figured that, by the time the cold had started to bite, we’d already be in the diner and warming up with a nice hot breakfast.

About half way there we began to realise it was actually a lot colder than we’d thought. There was a wind chill factor that was set to face freezing which just seemed to increase as we walked. We were soon gasping with each frigid breath that assaulted our lungs, but we figured we’d get there alright.

We did… it was closed on Mondays.

There was nowhere else around and it was really painfully cold now. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything like it. We might as well have been naked for all the protection our clothes seemed to be providing. If our tears hadn’t frozen on contact with the air, they’d have been running down our faces.

I just kept thinking, holy shit, holy shit. I could really see how people die in these conditions; how we could. And the crazy thing was it was a bright sunny day. Suddenly, all the beauty around me didn’t mean squat. I just wanted to get back to being able to feel my extremities while I still had some.

Fortunately, there was an aptly named convenience store about a block before the service centre so we went in and warmed up over a couple of (really pretty disgusting if I’m honest) coffees and counted our blessings (and toes).

The mechanic still looked put out when we came back in and planted ourselves in his, dangerously unsanitary, reception area, but by that stage, not one toss was given by either of us.

We’d just unwittingly pitted ourselves against the hostile elements and lived to tell the tale. What were the peculiar peccadilloes of a grumpy grease monkey in comparison to that?

Looking back on it from the vantage point of this sweaty Melbourne summer, I do still remember the beauty of that winter quite fondly, but whenever I think about that particular day, I am suddenly one hundred percent in accord with my Jersey girl’s no-nonsense appraisal; snow really sucks.

This winter has been a relatively mild one for her so far, but I’m sure that’s just a temporary respite. The mercury has lately begun to fall and the snow shovel will no doubt see action again soon enough.

I think it’s safe to say that the next winter I spend in New Jersey will be accompanied by noticeably fewer oohs and aahs.

All words and images in this post are my own.

©2016

15. Back in your arms

We’ll let blood build a bridge over mountains draped in stars
I’ll meet you on the ridge between these worlds apart
We’ve got this moment now to live then it’s all just dust and dark
Let’s let love give what it gives
Let’s let love give what it gives

Springsteen, Worlds apart

My second visit introduced me to a very different Jersey than the one I’d experienced up to then. As I’ve mentioned, that previous four weeks we’d spent together had taken place over a hot, humid, downright sticky summer.

This time, it was February.

Now, Melbourne enjoys what you’d call a temperate climate as a rule and while it can get damned hot in the summer, the winters are generally pretty mild. Snow is simply not a feature of a Melbourne winter.

Imagine my delight then when I found myself presented with this scene…

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Not Fargo, New Jersey.

But perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

I arrived through the exact same doors at Philly airport as I had on the previous visit, but unlike that occasion, Jersey girl was waiting for me right there on the other side. Both of us were holding on to our tears as we embraced for the first time in many months. Words cannot convey how good it felt to see her face gazing up into mine.

Gone was the rabbit in a spotlight stare of our first encounter. All I saw in her eyes were happiness and relief. This time, when I kissed her, she returned it with feeling; seeming to melt into my arms.

She was dressed very differently to that first meeting – layered and scarfed – and when we stepped outside I certainly understood why. Compared to the fairly mild weather I’d encountered on my brief stopover at LAX, it was frigid here, so we hustled our butts to the car and were soon tracing that now familiar route back home to Jersey.

We were happily ensconced within our bubble of easy familiarity; chatting and joking all the way home. There’s a very particular kind of tension that occurs between two people as close as we are who see each other so rarely. It doesn’t show in the conversation or even the body language. It exists almost at the sub-atomic level.

I suppose it might be described as an intense vibration or frequency, but it’s more like a contained explosion or a harnessed chain reaction. However you choose to describe it, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced with anyone but her. I would gladly traverse this planet a thousand times over just to feel it.

I remember being silently grateful that, despite this being the second visit, we both seemed as highly charged as we’d been that first time. The energy whenever we touched was galvanic; glorious. It’s just as well the children were with their father that night, because – and I don’t wish to appear indelicate or gauche here, but – we didn’t even make it to the bedroom; not even close.

Sometime during the night, the snow began to fall and continued steadily for the entire next day (which turned into a week). This resulted in the creation of what, to me at least, seemed like an alien world.

I’ve spent time in the UK, so I’ve encountered snow before, but never like this. I’d really never seen this anywhere outside of a ski slope. Jersey girl was amused by my inability to curb my enthusiasm for something that, to her, was almost mundane. The silent world that had descended around the house had managed to reduce me (elevate me?) to the emotional level of an excited child.

Even the dogs seemed a bit perplexed by my unrestrained exuberance.

Which lasted until the first time – and sadly not the last – that I had to dig a path to the road to extricate the ice encrusted car from the driveway.

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Fetch me the shovel, Jersey.

All words and images in this post are my own.

©2016

14. New Year’s Day

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Layers of complexity.

Today marks an important anniversary for Jersey girl and I. It was on a New Year’s Day (for me – eve for her) mumble years ago, that this whole crazy thing kicked off. We’d been online friends for quite a while, but there had always been a strange extra element to our interactions a something left unsaid factor.

All I knew was that I always felt happier on the days where we interacted and kind of deflated whenever we didn’t. And every time we talked (wrote) it was invariably that little bit more amplified with her than with other people. We seemed to be connecting on several levels at once, even when we were just exchanging pleasantries.

I loved the way it never really felt like anything needed to be explained. We just seemed to get each other. That’s so rare. I think a large part of human suffering and despair comes from just how very rare that feeling is. And so, when you find that connection, that understanding, what else is there to do but follow where it leads?

I guess that’s the realisation that she*came to on that New Year’s Eve, because, though she was supposed to be celebrating with her family, she kept slipping away to have a conversation online…with me. It was already the first afternoon of the new year here (as I write this, it is almost exactly that time again) and, as far as I knew, I was just chatting with my favourite online friend, nothing too out of the ordinary.

For Jersey girl, however, there had been a shift of seismic proportions. In the course of that conversation, she had the realisation that I meant more to her right then than she’d ever realised. That was when it started. All that was to follow flowed out of that instant of profound recognition.

From that moment on, I’m happy to say,  our lives were never going to be quite the same again.

*For reasons I won’t go into here, I was busy telling myself that it wasn’t what I thought it was.

The image used in this post is my own.

©2016