Tuesday, September 30, 2008

30. ardent wish

My Beautiful Boy and I did have one little emotional skirmish. Which I guess would count as fight #2. All through the week we were discussing NYC and whether Boy would come out there for the last weekend before I flew home. Boy had been there before and had no ardent wish to return. He also had a lot of work waiting for him at the UW and hotel prices in the city were exorbitant.

I was super excited to get to NY and knew I’d have a great time regardless, but I couldn’t face the thought of our goodbye at Vegas airport being the last we’d see of each other for months. I got a little teary and tried manipulating him into doing as I wished. It would be my 30th birthday two days after I left NY, he wouldn’t see me on my birthday or any other day for another two months. I pleaded and nagged until he finally got a bit angry, questioning whether I was asking him to be there or purely demanding it.

I finally backed off. I was a little hurt, but more embarrassed. Why the tears and the drama, when he was trying to have an adult conversation considering the pros and cons? I asked him to give me a minute. I was disappointed, and desperately wished to see him one more time if I could, but I had to be reasonable. He’d already spent a fortune on seeing me and spoiling me and he’d completely neglected his schoolwork to spend time with me. I went to the bathroom to calm down and dry my tears.

When I came back out we started making supper, the silence between us just a little bit emotional. Lala came over and we shared a nice, chatty, happy meal. I looked over at this Boy who was making us laugh so, being so kind and well-mannered and paying such special attention to my friend Lala so she wouldn’t feel like a third wheel. I accepted the limitations on his time and finances for what they were, finally realising that it didn’t mean he loved me any less.

After dinner Boy disappeared into the bedroom and I saw him typing away on his computer. Lala and I watched something stupid on TV. A little bit later Boy came out and plopped smoochy kisses all over my face. Hello, making up kisses, yay! I pulled away and looked at him, wanting to apologise, instantly feeling like a bitch for being so demanding. He had that naughty, I have a secret-look on his face. What now?
“I just booked my flights and our hotel room for your last weekend. See you in NYC, baby.” What a man.

Monday, September 29, 2008

29. tall and fragrant

The day arrived and we made it to Vegas! Lala and I were on separate flights, so she would meet Boy at the airport, they’d go ahead to the hotel, and when I arrived I’d find my own way there. I remember waiting for my luggage and wistfully thinking it would’ve been nice, though unnecessary, if Boy came back to the airport to get me. Just then I felt strong arms surround me as someone tall and fragrant nuzzled my neck.

And no, it wasn’t a baggage handler! What a man! I need only think a silly, spoilt, indulgent thought and there the Beautiful Boy appeared. He said the half hour trip in the taxi was precious time we could spend together. Ugh, I loved this man?

Ironically, the week in Vegas was the sanest, steadiest, most ordinary time we’d ever had together. Our suite was our home and Lala lived next door. We went grocery shopping and we cooked, we had cereal for breakfast and went out to dinner. We swam every day, saw the sites and did some outlet shopping. Sure, this was Vegas, so we went out a couple of nights, gambled a bit and saw a few clubs but mostly we had a laid-back chilled-out week just being together.

And it was wonderful. More wonderful, satisfying and serene than I ever knew it could be. I find it hard to describe the sense of wonder I experienced to anyone who’d never been in an entirely mismatched relationship. How the wrong personalities together just suck the energy out of both. How mind-numbingly, heart-breakingly depressing life can be when your every thought, every wish, every decision is analysed, criticised, taken apart and denied.

Friday, September 26, 2008

28. pigs ostriches and emus

We arrived at Jeremy’s ranch to find a big old wooden house filled with knickknacks collected from the flea markets in the area over twenty years. The bedrooms were decorated according to themes, in shabby-chic fashion, and I slept like a baby in my Chinese poster bed.

The next morning we discovered the beauty of our surroundings, the grass covered hills and prickly vegetation very reminiscent of Northern South Africa / Southern Zimbabwe, which is probably why Jeremy fell in love with the area. There was also a selection of animals to keep us busy and entertained. Cats, pigs, ostriches and emus all had to be fed, watered and petted. We bathed the emus with a hosepipe and then Jeremy put us to work picking olives from the bucket of a tractor. Such healthy, outdoor fun for a gaggle of city girls, we joked and laughed hysterically most of the time.

Lala and I also went up to Sequoia National Park to see the giant redwoods. I’d had enough of driving so dear Lala took on Jeremy’s mammoth truck and got us there safely through the twisty roads all the way up. It was awesome, in the traditional sense of the word, to see these humongous trees, bigger than any other living thing on earth.

At mealtimes we all cooked together in the big farmhouse kitchen and though I assure you I am no kitchen enthusiast, it was such a lovely experience! We even had a braai on the Saturday evening. Jeremy’s brother and his kids live on the ranch too and they came over to join us. John is 16, Rose 14 and they attend school in LA during the week, spending their weekends at the ranch. I hadn’t met such cool, friendly, well-adapted teenagers in a very long time. Rose had even baked us a fresh apple pie, with apples she picked in their garden that day! It was an idyllic pastoral dream perfected.

This was a wonderfully relaxing time, cocooned in nature with the exquisite company of my gorgeous girlfriends and darling Jeremy. It really soothed the relentless cycle of thoughts, doubts and speculation that had been churning through my mind. By the time we were dropped at the airport en route to Vegas, I felt excited yet calm.

I was super keen to see my Beautiful Boy and had missed him like crazy while I was sick and running on empty in LA. Now the time-out in the country had really made me see that I was still my whole, own person with my own unique character and that I actually quite liked this person and would be very happy and fulfilled in my life going forward, whether the Beautiful Boy would be there to colour it wonderful or not.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

27. lalaland

I left Madison with a heavy, though happy heart. My time with the Beautiful Boy had been even better than before. We’d talked about everything under the sun, once again, and found that we agreed where it mattered and gave each other a bit of a go when it didn’t. It was bittersweet to set off on my Californian adventure. Knowing we’d meet in Las Vegas in just 10 days helped a lot!

I met Lala on the Marina Del Rey; I was driving a huge ass rental car. I’d wanted something small and nippy but apparently they don’t do small and nippy in LA rental agencies. Driving in the US was a hugely intimidating mission; we drive on the left side of the road in SA! And I didn’t know LA, and I didn’t have a GPS system. With trepidation we started off on our urban escapade.

Now I have to explain that I’m not a celebrity fan. I don’t buy or read tabloids. I follow red carpet sites and watch awards ceremonies for the fashion. I do however devour movies and seem to accumulate useless general knowledge like a thirsty sponge. So I know names and faces, and would be able to spot a famous mug or two. Thus I ask forgiveness for the shameless namedropping to follow.

Being in LA you simply cannot get away from it.
The Hollywood dream.

The players, the rookies, the professionals, the mavericks; they’re all there. Constantly hustling, persistently operating to get in, get a better deal, get further. Your waiter is never just a waiter; he’s a frustrated actor. Your maitre d’ is a scriptwriter, your beauty therapist is a production assistant and your valet attendant is a stuntman. I was almost inspired to revive my teenage dream of becoming a movie star, the air there seems so loaded with magic and possibility. I’m sure though, that if you stay long enough in this delusional Lalaland, you start to recognise that the magic and possibility is actually just smog, faded dreams and endless disappointment in fancy dress.

Regardless of my anti-celebrity attitude, Lala and I experienced an incredibly star studded week. We were staying with my adorable Model friend and her Famous Comedian boyfriend in Venice Beach. The first night there, we were invited to the opening of Robert Graham’s sculpture exhibition (he is Anjelica Huston’s husband) where we met La Anjelica, Owen Wilson, Kyle MacLachlan and the mayor of LA. Owen was very sweet, and tried hard to make comfortable small-talk, saying he’d heard there’s good surf in SA and that he’d have to come check it out. I just nodded goofily and said: “Yeah, you should”. I mean, here is this guy who doesn’t know me from Adam, yet I know exactly who he is and that just the previous week he’d allegedly tried to commit suicide over Kate Hudson! He was there with his mother, who came over all protective when she noticed her boy chatting to us. Did we look like Kate wannabes?

Brooke Shields was in the background, kids draped around her like this season’s must-have It-bag and Kelly Lynch lurked around looking thin, glam and twenty years younger than she should. We were guests of Jeremy Railton, a supremely talented and wonderfully warm-hearted art director and production designer who happens to be a lifelong friend of Lala’s Mom. I’d have to spend a whole post on this guy’s interesting life and amazing career; he’s worked with everyone and done everything! His latest project was designing Cher’s Vegas show. Not bad for a boy from Zimbabwe.

We spent a day on Ocean Front Walk and the beach, explored the delightful shops on Abbot Kinney Rd, watched the taping of a “Notes from the underbelly” episode at Warner Bros studios, had some laughs at the world-famous Comedy Store, met Jeremy Piven over coffee in Santa Monica and lunched at Moonshadows on the Malibu cliffs. Here I had the best meal of my entire life, bar none. A tuna burger so fresh, the combined flavours so perfectly balanced, argh, I have to go back there!

We also spent a night with my ridiculously beautiful Actress friend in her West Hollywood apartment. Actress has had a recurring part in a popular US sitcom and at 25 is still very much in the running to catch a big break. I really hope she does. Model and Actress took us out to the uber-trendy Green Door restaurant/bar/club. The place was stunning and packed with gorgeous people; sadly you’re not allowed to take any pictures. For the record, I wasn’t stalking, just innocently trying to get a photo of us four girls.

The next morning Actress’ friend Bond Girl popped in and yes, she has actually been a minor Bond Girl in a Bond Film. Blew my mind. As we strolled along Hollywood Boulevard, I was asked to quickly play a small part in a student production filming right there. Only in Hollywood, right? We checked out Mann’s Chinese Theatre on the walk of fame and I got a picture of Charlize Theron’s star, the Hollywood sign and one with me and “Johnny Depp” as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Overall, LA was a blast. A crazy, manic, head-spinning trip that still seems like fiction when I think back. Everything happened at the speed of light. We were out and about every day and night, sleeping fitfully for only a couple of hours on Model’s couches while her whole house was being packed up to move! It didn’t help that I had a terrible cold at the time and the driving freaked me out completely. Luckily, by the Friday, I handed the rental monster back at the airport and dear Jeremy swept Model, Actress, Lala and me away to an anti-LA weekend at his ranch in Three Rivers, California.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is a meme I'm very passionate about, 5 reasons why I love SA. Unfortunately I don't know that many fellow Saffer bloggers yet, so we're gonna go international! Firstly, here's my list of 5. I could go on and on...

1. Braai

I've been to tailgates, barbeques, picnics, spit roasts and many other kinds of al fresco cooking around the world, but nowhere did I find such culture built into the act. I'm not even a big meat-eater but just imagining the ritual and ceremony of braaiing gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. The machoism and hierarchy around starting the fire and grilling the meat, the girls gossiping and making salad in the kitchen and then everyone coming together to feast. I don't even necessarily agree with the male/female stereotypes depicted here, I just adore the sense of tradition. Don't forget tomorrow is Braai Day! See what I mean, a Braai Day?!

2. Afrikaans

I love my language. I miss its picturesque simplicity when I'm speaking English. A little lamb just doesn't sound half as cute as a klein ou lammetjie.

3. Our Political Resilience

'94 came around and we were cautious and fearful, threatening to emigrate. The transition happened peacefully, we accepted and embraced Madiba with a passion. Mbeki was appointed and we were cautious and fearful, threatening to emigrate. He wasn't that bad so we stuck it out and embraced the new South Africa with a passion. Zuma is looming and we are cautious and fearful, threatening to emigrate. Already I hear my peers saying, well at least he fights for the man on the street and we'll have to give him a chance...

4. Vetkoek

Oh my word there is nothing in this world I love more. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of good vetkoek in Cape Town, are strongly urged to come forward. I'm a terrible cook and I have an unstoppable craving!

5. My view

Okay - now I tag: Peonies GS Charlie Em Jules Insight Melissa Cyd

1. Link back to the meme creator Caz
2. Link to the person who tagged you DT
3. Link back to the originator of the positive SA blog movement Cheap Thrills
4. Give 5 reasons why you love your country
5. Tag at least 5 people

26. beast

While we were having the best time together every day, cementing the friendship and love that we shared, I also had to battle a demon or two on my own.

Jetlag gave me sleepless nights. Sleepless nights make me over-think everything and I start calling into question things that need not be scrutinised. In those dark, silent hours in a strange bed in a faraway place, I guess I finally confronted the changes in my life, and more particularly, why it had taken me so long to make those changes. So this wasn’t a bad thing, just a hard thing.

I’d lie next to this Beautiful Boy and wonder at his peace, his self-assurance and complete lack of doubt. I was still unsure whether it had been the best thing to come flying into his arms. I still felt like all I deserved was to be miserable for a lot longer before I’d be allowed to move on and find such happiness. I felt guilty for being so happy and cynical about the long-term probability of this love remaining as it was: sweet, selfless and true.

Compounding the issue and also proving that no one is perfect, my Beautiful Boy snored like a beast. I’m a light sleeper at the best of times, but there I was in a foreign country, a foreign situation and working through mountains of issues, with the added sleep-depriving effect of his nightly cacophony.*

But my biggest challenge at the time was that we were in Boy’s territory now. Here was his home, his life and his recent past. His single, player, boy with a cute accent past! There were girls, memories of girls and stories of girls. In our first month together back home we had told each other everything about our romantic careers and I thought I was okay with everything, but being in the town where these stories had played out made it all the more real.

Boy wasn’t shoving it in my face but little things were bound to happen. I’d suggest a cosy looking restaurant for lunch and a look on his face would quickly explain that it was one of ‘their’ places. I’d be introduced to a nice girl, spend an evening talking to her and find out afterwards that she’s an ex’s best friend. I would download our photos onto his laptop and find old pictures of other girls. Now I’m usually not a jealous girl, but in this instance, with this Boy, it was driving me crazy.

The stories of girlfriends past also made me doubt the sincerity of our sweeping romance, as he had been as spontaneous and quick to fall in love before. There was the girl he had met in Madison and two weeks later he flew her out to SA with him for Christmas holidays. Stories like this made me wonder whether our whirlwind experience was all that different or special to him in any way. I’d been in one long steady relationship for all the years of my romantic life, while he’d been wooing, wining, dining and charming the pants off girls all over the world.

*Sweetheart that he is, he bought me industrial strength earplugs(!) which I luckily got used to soon enough.

Monday, September 22, 2008

25. hooters

The two weeks in picturesque Madison went by in a haze of happy, loved-up activity. You know those movie montages when they show the couple doing fun things, falling more in love, with a catchy up-beat love song to accompany the action? I remember it just like that!

The day I arrived we had beers on the terrace by the lake, so pretty and romantic out there in the balmy fall sunshine. I don’t know how the UW students tear themselves away to class. For supper we went out to an Afghan restaurant where I nearly nodded off over my food, but I was so content just to sit there, with Beautiful Boy’s hand never leaving mine.

We went to sports bars with dollar a beer nights, American football and rodeo on the huge TV screens. I’d tag along to Boy’s black jack games and poker evenings, one night almost taking the pot. We celebrated his roommate’s birthday at the German Essen Haus where I gamely tried to keep up with the massive jugs of beer doing the rounds. We attended an MBA golf day, as Boy wouldn’t hear of me staying home alone, so I kept score and drove the cart with his teammate while he walked! I saw my first live football game when we watched the Wisconsin Badgers beat up Michigan State. I have to post a picture of the stadium; I have never seen anything like it. The spirit of unity and enthusiasm was unbelievable.

We had hot dogs at the stadium, hamburgers everywhere and some of the best sushi I ever had at Muramoto. Boy woke me up in the mornings with coffee and croissants from the shop downstairs. We’re not that used to take-away coffee in SA so even this little gesture was fun and exciting to me. I just had to try cheese curds (deep-fried cheese, yummm) and mac and cheese pizza at Ian’s and Hooters chicken wings. I insisted on visiting this venerable American institution, just had to see it for myself. We went shopping and clubbing and watched SA take on USA in the Rugby World Cup at an Irish bar, which was packed with South African dairy farmers in town for a Dairy Conference!

Boy celebrated his 27th birthday and we partied all night, and had our first fight! He asked me if I wanted to dance downstairs or go chat upstairs. I said I didn’t mind, whatever he wanted to do. Somehow we ended up mad at each other because neither one would decide what they wanted to do. Aw, isn’t that sweet? Of course making up was even sweeter.

Friday, September 19, 2008

24. cheese state

I finally arrived in Madison. Via Johannesburg, via Dakar, via Atlanta, but I arrived. My heartbeat was skyrocketing. Wow. It was real, in just a minute or two I would see the Beautiful Boy, be able to kiss and hold him. If I wanted to? Gulp!

As I stepped off the plane I had a peculiar out-of-body sensation, wondering for a moment what the hell I was doing in Wisconsin of all places and who was this Boy I was expecting to be there, waiting with open arms? For ten years every day and most of my choices were obvious, predictable, inevitable. Now it was all wide open and I had no guarantees.

If I hadn’t spent so much time with Boy’s family and friends in his absence, I might have run away at this point! They were the only reassurance I had that he wasn’t just some callous heartbreaking stranger looking for a good time. I mean, I’d just flown halfway round the world on the strength of a delirious month spent together and a couple of phone calls! Well, maybe rather more than a couple. Regardless, there I was, entering the arrivals hall of a tiny airport in the Cheese State of America; I had no choice but to keep on walking into this unmapped future.

When I spotted him, my heart skipped a beat. Man, he was gorgeous! He looked younger than I remembered, and taller, and sweeter, and… shy! There were many words I could use to describe the Beautiful Boy, but shy had never been one of them. It entered my mind for the first time that this must be as daunting for him as it was for me. We shyly said hello, grinning, and then Beautiful Boy did what he does best. He kissed me till my toes curled up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

23. signal fire

Looking at my Picasa history, I kept real busy during those five never-ending weeks.
I attended three birthday parties – including Jewel’s 30th Disco Karaoke bash – you’d have to see the photos to believe it! I took my favourite chicas to a Pink concert, joined several Rugby World Cup viewings, supported Boy’s brother’s band at one of their gigs, went to a fashion show, a Spring Ball and a couple of girls nights. Was this the same girl who preferred spending Friday nights on the couch with terrible television? And usually Saturdays too? I guess you could say my inner social butterfly had truly been liberated, hurrah!

The day finally arrived. I was off! Off for five weeks in the US of A, where I’d never been. I was going to see the best Boy in the world, live it up in LA, try my luck in Vegas and then finally spend two whole weeks in New York City. The City. I was so excited I could hardly breathe!

At the airport I was waiting for my flight to board. There was music playing. I thought it quite strange, I’d never heard music at the airport before? Then an over familiar tune started up. Beautiful Boy had introduced me to Snow Patrol (I know, where had I been, under a rock?) and we loved loved loved Signal Fire. We’d listened to it in his car the night we didn’t kiss; we’d played it on our road trip. It was ‘our song’. (I’d never had an ‘our song’ before! Another sweet sentimental first!) And it was playing out loud in the international departures lounge as I started on my incredible journey. That was just the kind of ‘romantic movie’ life I was leading! You couldn’t make this sh*t up!

This was me, waiting for my flight. The shoes were a gift from the Beautiful Boy.

22. nougat

Just before we finally get to the bit where I get on the plane and fly into the Beautiful Boy’s arms, I have to tell you what a sweetheart he was across the oceans.

One morning I got into work and my Cutie colleague had a secretive smile plastered all over her beautiful face. I went to the back to put down my bag, enquiring what she’s smiling at, when I stumbled on a bright, cheerful bunch of flowers. Shyly checking the card attached but not daring to hope… A couple of startled tears escaped me. It was only flowers, but I had never received flowers before. I mean never.

People (read boys!) underestimate the worth of such an old-fashioned gesture. I don’t care if it’s not the most original / organic / individual / fashionable way to say ‘I love you’ but damnit it means you spent a bit of time and a bit of money trying to convey something that you feel for me.

A couple of weeks later I should’ve recognised the sly look on Cutie’s face but didn’t. In the back there was a big square black box, tied with a thick green satin ribbon. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it might contain? I opened it and found… Nougat. Ten different kinds of Sally Williams Nougat.

What Boy didn’t know at the time was that I don’t even like nougat. But there is a song about Sally Williams Nougat. A song that I’d never heard, until Boy sang it for me. A song about a boy and a girl and all the things they love to share. All the things he will miss sharing with her, now that she’s going away. He sang it to me softly, while holding me close to him, in front of a fireplace at a restaurant on our roadtrip just before he left. Beautiful Boy can not really sing all that well, but the memory of his voice softly telling me the story of Sally Williams Nougat brings tears to my eyes even now. Honest.

21. odds

In some ways it was wonderful that our courtship took place in this way. If we’d been in the same city we might’ve spent way too much time kissing and not dealt with half the issues that came up over the wires.

Terrible sadness, insecurities and doubt would plague me every now and then. It didn’t matter how busy I was, how often I visited with his family and friends or mine, how often he reassured me that I need only get to Madison and all would be crystal clear… I was still the same girl who stuck it out in a sad situation for many empty years, and I could not believe that all this sharing and belonging was real. On the one hand I was super excited, on the other I kept waiting for the beautiful bubble to burst.

I mean, who does it ever work out for? Who deserves this insane compatibility that just makes everything easy? Why should I be allowed to forge this incredible bond with a sane, smart, wonderful man and get to keep it, forever?
What are the odds?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

20. on my way

Thus began the longest seven weeks of my life.

Except that, Boy then convinced me to visit him for two weeks in Madison, Wisconsin before continuing on my planned American Adventure with Lala, so it ended up being only the longest five weeks. He was persuasive that way!

I was so energised by our mutual adoration; I simply demanded the extra two weeks leave and arranged all my other affairs to fit in. I felt unstoppably, undeniably sure of my course of action. I was in love and on my way to be with my love.

Oh, that long distance love. What torturous rapture, blissful agony. It felt like I had acquired an extra shadow. I went about my business, did my thing, worked and socialised and talked and laughed and ate and slept, but a small, itsy bitsy little part of me was always somewhere else. Wondering what he’s doing, where he’s going, when would I talk to him again?

And talk we did. Never mind a seven hour time difference and exorbitant communication costs in Africa, we spent at least an hour on the phone every day, and more often than not, twice a day. And then there was the five to ten daily text messages plus e-mails and facebooking that also went on. It was crazy baby.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

19. an answer

After a long sleepless night, I woke up to an answer:

Thank you for telling me, I really appreciate it.
Just so you know - could have kissed a girl tonight - but I didn't.
But we did say we were single, so I suppose I will have to live with it.
Love you

Which is not too bad, considering. However, coming from the Beautiful Boy I knew, usually so emotive and effusive with language and sharing, this was terribly brusque. I felt relieved, but still sad. Afraid that I’d broken the tenuous magic between us.

I faced the day head-on, trying to trust that all would work out as it should. We shared a few more messages, each one a little lighter and friendlier than the last. By the end of the day, I rushed home to answer his phone call.

He teased me about the Other Boy, calling me names and professing shock at my low moral stance. He carried on about how hot the French girls were and how they just loved his little accent.
And then he asked me out.
Like a schoolboy.
He said ‘I am crazy about you and I love you and I want you in my life and I don’t want you to kiss any more other boys. Won’t you please be my girlfriend?’
I remember vividly how I actually shrieked, like a schoolgirl, and said yes.

18. regret

On the Sunday after kissing the Other boy, I woke up hung-over, regretful, confused and racked with guilt. I spent the day on the couch with Carrie and the girls, trying to figure out what the night and my reaction to it meant for my prized single status.

I exchanged a harmless message or two with the Beautiful Boy, deciding that since we were officially single, I wouldn’t tell him anything until we were face to face again. It felt bad though. It felt like lying, like cheating.

By Sunday night I reached a low point. I couldn't do it, not like this. I wrote a long confessional e-mail, reminding the Boy that I found myself in completely uncharted territory. I was trying to be single while getting over something and at the same time I’d fallen in love with someone new who could not be there with me right then.

Not knowing when he would read it or what his reaction would be nearly drove me insane. I was just going to have to wait. I cried myself to sleep, tears of loss and fear.

What if I’d just given up the best man that I ever would meet?
What if he took this occurrence as a cue that my feelings for him were not as sincere as I’d professed?
What if he’s the jealous type who could never get over this?
What if he’d been kissing Other girls?
Would I want to know?
Could I accept it?

And what did any of these question matter as we were both “single”?!

17. countdown

At this point it’s necessary to mention that there was the little matter of a trip to the States in my future. I’d been plotting together with my very good friend Lala for about a year (therefore way before I even met the Stateside-living Boy!), and the ultimate goal was for me to see NYC in the fall. Since we were going to fly so far and pay so much to get to the USA, we decided it would be wasteful not to also spend some time with friends of mine in LA and another couple of days in Las Vegas.

The week in Vegas fell in the middle of the journey, and there we’d lucked out by getting a full two-bedroom suite just off the strip. Thanks to this arrangement, we’d been inviting any interested parties to join us in Vegas. I checked with Lala that she didn’t mind, and extended the invite to Beautiful Boy. Now the whole truth would be that Lala wasn’t exactly keen to play third wheel in Sin City, but I decided that I would be a fool to be in the same country as Boy and not make every effort to see him.

Boy booked his ticket to Vegas, and we actually had a date when we would see each other again! We started a countdown, 51 days till next we meet!

Monday, September 15, 2008

16. fine

I call it my single life, but I’m pretty sure that a single life doesn’t usually include daily loving text messages back and forth between oneself and a certain Beautiful Boy?

But a single life might include kissing a random Other boy one night out on the town…

I couldn’t explain it to my own satisfaction then, and doubt whether I can make logical sense of it now. But it’s part of the story and therefore must be told.

One beautiful end-of-winter’s Saturday I went to an audition for a TV presenting job and it went great! Afterwards I met up with Careergirl to watch friends of hers playing club rugby. It was a gorgeous, bright day, filled with the hopeful sounds and smells of spring. Being outside on the balmy green fields, cheering and drinking with friends, following straight after the confidence boosting audition, I felt dizzy with joy.

The party continued post-match in the clubhouse and I was introduced to Careergirl’s friends. The room was packed with fit, charming boys and the girls who came to support and visit at the club. The whole atmosphere was loaded with flirtation.

Careergirl and I were both single, confident, bubbly girls new to the scene, so it’s fair to say that we received rather special attention all round. One boy stood out from the rest in that he refused to show particular interest. He would come over, crack a joke and disappear again. His strategy worked like a charm.

Hours later the entire party had moved to a restaurant/bar/club on the beachfront and suffice it to say that everyone there was rather tipsy. The Other boy had plucked up the Dutch courage to pay considerably more attention to me and soon we were dancing, flirting, dancing, chatting and then dancing, kissing!

He was a cute, smart, respectful boy. He danced like a dream and the kisses were fine.

Wait a minute, I’d been starved of kissing random cute smart respectful boys for 10 years and now here was the opportunity and the kisses were FINE? I had always thought and imagined that late night kisses with Other boys would be fantastic, exhilarating, mind-blowing, perfect, unbelievable…

As they had indeed been with one Beautiful Boy…

At that thought the kissing was stopped, the dancing was over, the lights came on and Careergirl and I found our way home.

15. airport

The day Boy left, we were wide-eyed and nervous, but also giggly and excited. We held hands and kissed non-stop, wishing each other the best and happiest times. Our plan of action was to wave goodbye, keep in touch and live contented, joyful lives until our paths may cross again.

I urged him to give sexy Senoritas and flirty Mademoiselles a chance, as I was rather excited about my own single status, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY ADULT LIFE. The feeling was enormous. Daunting and delicious, empowering and tremendously scary all at the same time.

We kissed goodbye, one last time, smiled and waved and blew kisses at each other until he disappeared through the security gates.

I threw myself into an eventful new life, keeping endlessly busy. During the day there was work and admin, clearing out and redecorating my apartment, sorting out insurance and bills and changing everything back to my own name. I felt sure and strong, independent and capable.

After work I could surround myself with family and friends, or even more indulgently, just be home alone and do whatever the hell I wanted. It was enormously gratifying to pig out on pizza and watch Sex & The City box sets till 3 in the morning, just because I could. I embraced my single life and found immense happiness in it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

alarm bells

Oh goodness, i really wanted to post right now but my computer is sounding the alarm? Literally... pee paw pee paw, it's driving me mad! I tried switching off and on again but it's still there. I didn't know computers had alarm bells? Anyhoo, I'd better pay attention and give it a break... Be back soon as I can, promise!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

eye candy

I'm taking a little break from our soap opera today, and thought I'd entertain you with some eye candy instead...
It also gives me the opportunity to figure out uploading images, sneaky sneaky.

This is one of my dream outfits of all time. I don't think it needs any explanation.

And here is Anne Hathaway, with whom I enjoy a love/hate relationship, looking abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous.

Ditto for Dianne Kruger. I never understood how she landed the role of "the most beautiful woman in the history of the world" (as Helen of Troy in duh, Troy). But I love the outfit! Not so much the date?

Both pictures are via gofugyourself.celebuzz.com, which I am seriously digging and constantly trawling!

Hope you have a fab Wednesday, and join us again tomorrow for the next instalment of our epic saga!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

14. say yes

To put the European dilemma in perspective, I am a very good girl.
I always do the right thing.
I am conscientious, responsible, reliable to a fault.
I wouldn’t even dream of ditching my job and running off into the Mediterranean sunset with Beautiful Boy. Even though my job was certainly not a career and only part-time and something I was doing for fun. I felt compelled to stay here and figure out my life post-Ex and Boy had to go and have fun and we’d catch up some other time. That’s what we said.

The weekend before Boy left we went on a road trip, just the two of us. It was winter, cool and rainy. We drove for hours, talking non-stop, dissecting and discarding the possibility of a long-distance relationship. Boy had tried it before and didn’t think it could work in general. I didn’t feel ready for any kind of relationship, never mind one that had the added pressures, insecurity and longing of a million miles between us. So it was decided.

We loved each other. Yes, we’d been using the L-word since about week 2 and we honestly meant it. We were superbly well suited to each other. We had the most fun together. We potentially had a wonderful future together. But.

But right now Boy had to go, and I had to stay.

So he’d go and I’d stay and we’d live and love and learn and be single and keep in touch and then maybe one day, when he moved back here, he could ask me out for drinks and I could say yes…

Monday, September 8, 2008

13. heartbreaking

During this same month of love, I also had to extricate myself from my ex-relationship. Practically and emotionally.
Fortunately I’d never given up my own apartment, so I wasn’t stranded. I ran in to fetch my few belongings from Ex’s place while he was at work. It was a sad act filled with finality, but I rushed through it like someone possessed. When I realised that I’d packed up everything of mine and fit it into the boot of my car within 30 minutes, it confirmed just how separate our lives had actually been. I felt a huge sense of loss, but more for the barren years gone before than for this ending now.

I saw Ex-boyfriend a few times, it was always heartbreaking. He looked like a stranger to me. So stiff and formal, unsure and insecure. He wrote me a letter in which it seemed that he understood more of the why than I gave him credit for.
He was sorry and ready to change and wanted to try again. I felt completely numb. The nearest emotion I could identify towards him was regret. He was not a bad person; he had so much to offer. It was just too late and I’d left the building a long time ago.

I went to our last scheduled counselling session alone, and told the therapist everything. I started by saying that my head was all messy and confused, that I wasn’t thinking straight and needed some guidance. I thought he would urge caution; register surprise and distress at the break-up. But by the end of the hour he told me he’d never seen me so clear-headed and vibrant. That I should take this happy infatuation and run with it. He didn’t want to see me again, I was ‘cured’.

Now I still don’t know if the nature of that session confirms that we pay shrinks to tell us what we want to hear, or if this therapist had secretly been thinking that my relationship with Ex was doomed from the start and this was the best outcome for everyone. Maybe I’ll ask him one day.

12. could i?

So it happened that I fell in love with a Beautiful Boy and to my greatest surprise and happiness he fell in love with me too. We spent a month entwined in each other, dating and learning and laughing and kissing and talking.

I introduced him to my friends and they loved him. He met my brother and sister and they liked him just fine. (Eventually the Boy and my Sister would really hit it off but that happens a bit later…) We spent time with his family and while they were loud and intimidating purely by the size of their gatherings, I soon found my voice in that crowd and felt very comfortable amongst their clan.

His friends already knew me a bit and we’d always connected quite easily. While they were concerned that our young love was just a rebound fling and that I might run back to my ex, they soon became aware that our connection might be something rather more exceptional. They’d never seen him in love like this, he’d never been as sweet and courteous and selfless with any other girl.

In our joyous, blissful state, we didn’t care a fig what happened beyond this moment. Every day and night was planned to provide the most time spent together, more fun with many friends and wonderful evenings alone. He would drop me off at work in the morning, then the hours dragged until he would fetch me again.

We almost got away with pretending that there was no deadline looming. Less than a month after our first kiss, he would leave on a European holiday with his best friend, before returning to the States for his final year at university. As the date drew near, he pleaded with me to join them in Europe. I was severely tempted, but it was practically impossible. I had my job, my apartment and my life to sort out… I couldn’t run off to Europe with a boy I’d just met, could I?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

11. a little prayer

While we tried to be reasonable and take it slow during the next week, we ended up spending every possible free moment together. One night I specifically made a date with Careergirl to prove that I still had my own life and hadn’t jumped straight into another full-on relationship, but by 10pm I sent Boy a message asking him why we’d thought it was a good idea to spend some time apart? We didn’t make that mistake again.

I also caught up with Nightingale and my darling Sister, telling them what was happening to me and fielding their concerned questions. Everyone was worried for me, doubting the wisdom of this emotional rollercoaster I’d gotten on to. At the same time they were so happy to see me ecstatic and alive with joy, that they sent me on my way with the wish that the happiness would last and a little prayer that it was all true.

We were hopelessly, madly, crazy in love and there was no point in trying to deny it. Thinking back to that time still gives me goose bumps. So much is written about those giddy, life-changing first days of love. Days of endless kisses and talks and caresses. When staring into your loved one’s eyes causes sparks in you soul and the world stops turning when they leave the room. When every love song was written about you and you want every movie to have a happy ending.
I experienced it for real, for the first time in my life, in vivid technicolour with surround sound, at the ripe old age of 29.

10. at home

Boy convinced me to come to his family’s house for a while, there was no one there, we could just talk and I could try to relax before I drove on home. When we arrived at the house, I was confused at seeing about five cars in the driveway… Maybe his Dad was a car salesman?

It turned out the entire family was at home, and he’d decided it was time for me to meet them. A bit sudden you think? I was in shock. He laughingly guided me into the house and straight up to his parent’s room where his Dad was watching golf. “Hey Dad this is Redframe, she just broke up with her boyfriend of 10 years but we really like each other so we’ll see how it goes.” I stood there, shell-shocked. Boy had his arm around me while his Dad asked me twenty questions about my ex-relationship and then we all talked golf for a while. Surreal? It gets better.

Within two hours I’d met and chatted with his four brothers and their girlfriends, spoke to his mother on the phone (she was away on safari) and helped his little sister with her homework. The whole house was filled with people and animals coming and going. There was music and noise and laughter and teasing and I wasn’t spared in the least.

While I was completely overwhelmed and basically functioning on autopilot, I’d never felt so at home in my life.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

9. slow motion

I didn’t know where Boy lived, so we arranged to meet outside a convenience store. As I pulled into the parking lot, he got out of his car and walked towards me. It’s so cheesy but I remember it in slow motion! He wanted me to follow him to his house but I was frozen, indecisive, confused. He got into the passenger seat and looked at me. He asked me how I was feeling, if I was okay, what did I want to do now. I couldn’t say.

I tried to string together a sentence, telling him how numb I felt, how I didn’t know what I’d expected but that this felt weird, wrong, that I didn’t deserve to be here with him now and that he shouldn’t be so kind and caring and understanding. I thought I deserved punishment for leaving my ex.

So then he simplified things. “Do you still have a boyfriend?” Hesitantly I said no.
And then he kissed me.
He kissed me good and deep and for a very long time and the whole world melted away and there was only him and me in a bubble somewhere high above the planet and it was the best kiss of my life!

When we finally drew apart he sat smiling at me and asked if it felt better now.
Cheeky monkey, it certainly did.

8. a little weary

Now this might sound completely heartless, but there’s no point in me blogging my true love story and then lying about the harsh details.

I drove away from now X-boyfriend, switched on my phone and carried on crying as I opened a message from Beautiful Boy. “Need some comic relief? I have just the solution for you! Beautiful Boy is available next week on Monday through Sunday. Please book ahead to avoid disappointment. ;-)”

I’d just broken someone’s heart. I felt so guilty. As if all I deserved was to drive home and spend a week crying by myself before I’d be allowed to see anyone or carry on with my life in any way. Surely I wasn’t allowed to smile like this? Surely I wasn’t allowed to call his number? But I did.

He answered immediately, expectant and excited, a little weary. We talked for a while, but I can’t remember a word we said. I felt so disconnected from myself, my wishes, my needs, I just wanted someone to tell me what to do. He told to come see him, that we would talk. At the end of the phone call, all I knew was that I was driving towards my friend, the Beautiful Boy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

7. just too hard

From the moment we set off on our weekend away, I knew it was over.
I sat next to Boyfriend in his fancy car, wondering when it had actually ended.
During the two-hour trip I think we had three conversations. None of which lasted very long.

We stopped along the way to walk on a beach. It was cold and forlorn and we had nothing to say. The reasons for my extensive unhappiness were ticking over in my mind one by one. My head was so full of the end I couldn’t open my mouth.

We went out to dinner in silence. This was not unusual for us. I wondered if he realised anything was wrong. He suggested a quiet, romantic restaurant; I balked and went into the noisy pub next to it. I pushed my dinner around on my plate, waiting for the moment when we were back at the guesthouse so we could talk in private.

Once we were settled in front of the fireplace in our room, he brought out a wine cooler. Inside it was bottle of red wine. I felt a rush of mixed emotions. Not champagne. Wine.

I opened my mouth and started to tell him why it was over.
I spoke for hours.
We went to sleep.
We got up, spent another few hours talking and crying and I was explaining and apologising and he was hurt and confused and I said that’s the point.
We just don’t understand each other. We just don’t fit. It’s just too hard.
I’m sorry.

The drive back home was long and distressing and quiet.
I finally dropped him off at his place and drove away, watching as he grew small in the rear view mirror.
It was awful.

6. boyfriend v not boyfriend

While I was in turmoil, the weekend with Boyfriend approached. I was numbed by the sheer volume and speed of emotions running through me, exhausted by the constant debate in my head. Not Boyfriend v Beautiful Boy.
Just Boyfriend v not Boyfriend.

On the Friday I sent out an SOS to my two best friends. We met for lunch; I burst into tears and confessed all. They didn’t know what to say. Boyfriend and I were the one unchanging concept in our ever-changing worlds. We’d always stuck together through every hard thing and now suddenly, I was ready to pack it all in? The only (and the best) advice they could give me, was to go on my weekend and allow myself the space to see what would transpire.

They also brought up the possibility of a proposal over the weekend, which brought fresh sobs from me. A week ago I sometimes thought that would be the answer to all my woes, now I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

Sensible Jewel (who’d introduced me to Boyfriend all those years ago, incidentally) left first, which gave romantic Nightingale a quick opportunity to say: “If you feel you need to speak to Beautiful Boy, I think you should call him, you know?”

Fifteen minutes later I was on the phone to him and we had a very light, pleasant, friendly conversation. It made me feel better. Just knowing that he was my friend regardless. There was an unspoken understanding between us that this was how it would be until I changed anything.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

5. 8/10

Infidelity is a big word. And I don’t claim that the time I spent with the Beautiful Boy that night is not contained in that big word.

I spent the next two days in a haze of emotional confusion. I went to work, saw Boyfriend, spoke to friends as usual but my mind would not stop going over everything we’d said and shared that night.

Suddenly, the ‘truths’ I’d always held about relationships seemed senseless.

I’d always been the one to urge compromise, hard work, allowances and understanding when friends had relationship issues. I was famous for my 8 day rule: believing that if you’re happy enough in your relationship 8 days out of 10 then you should count your blessings. I thought 8/10 was being generous. Now, it appeared to me that there might be someone who could just possibly, theoretically, make me feel fulfilled in our relationship 9.9 days out of 10?

The old cynic in me scoffed at this, and I won’t blame you if you do too. I knew that almost anyone could appear ideal after just one night and that my judgement would be clouded by physical attraction. I also knew that the Boy was leaving for the States in another month, that he was a few years younger than me and didn’t have much long-term relationship experience. I knew that even if I could bring myself to leave Boyfriend after a decade together, it wouldn’t be a good idea to jump straight into another relationship at all.

All these reasons and a million more, but I could not deny what was happening in my heart. Where before I’d been resigned, accepting, placated to my fate, to a relationship that was stable but joyless, to a life of daily compromise and constant appeasement, I now saw a window into an alternate future. A love built on shared thoughts, mutual needs, combined energies. An easy fit.

Compatibility. An even bigger word.

4. 5 o'clock in the morning

Now I knew I was in trouble, we’d gone beyond the point of pure friendship and this was me, out on the town with a man who’s not my boyfriend until 5 o’clock in the morning.

During those few hours on a random Wednesday night, we talked and discussed and argued and analysed and dreamed and wondered and explored and had the most frank conversation of our lives. We covered our pasts and our ideals, religion, death, family, marriage, sex, friends, personality, education, money, children, interests, lifestyle and everything else that matters and does not matter at all.

It’s hard to put into words what really happened while this conversation took place.

How can I explain the feeling of finding someone who doesn’t know you that well but who knows what you feel by the twitch of your eyebrow. Someone who listens, who patiently hears out your whole long tirade, even if he doesn’t agree with your viewpoint? How do I illustrate what happens at the centre of your being when you show someone your worst characteristics and secret disappointments and he finds it beautiful and sad and that it fits in perfectly with his strengths and determinations?

My heart crumbled.

I felt so understood, I felt visible. I felt so beautiful and intelligent and interesting and true to myself. I was honestly not pretending anything or covering any rough spots with smooth lies. I was really just being me, and being appreciated for exactly who I was.

And him? Ah. The Beautiful Boy was bold and honest and forthright and funny and cocky and understanding and self-assured and sensitive and he can talk for hours like a girl! He claims it’s because he read Cosmopolitan when he was a young boy… My boys will certainly grow up on a diet of women’s magazines if that is true!

After much debate and laughter and moments that lasted for aeons, we faced one little last issue. Where the hell do we go from here?! There was no answer to this million-dollar question. He didn’t force one from me.

Before I finally got out of his car, I’ll confess I did lean over to kiss him. He turned his cheek and gave me a big hug instead. I felt foolish, but relieved. If everything we thought we felt that night was real, and this was going to be something more than what it could right then, I wouldn’t want it to start with infidelity.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3. champagne bar

I initiated the next get-together at my favourite champagne bar in a classic old hotel. It was cold by now and the fireplace was blazing as Careergirl and I sipped and gossiped and once again confirmed that Beautiful Boy was sexy and charming and always laughing and that I really thought Careergirl should seriously consider the option. See, I was over it?

I was still waiting to hear from the man in question whether he’d be joining us and couldn’t explain my excitement when a message came through saying he’s on his way. It must’ve been the bubbles?

Beautiful Boy and friends turned up and a lovely time was had by all. By 1 am everyone with early mornings started leaving. Exotic friend, who was then not yet a friend of mine, let it slip that she really hoped to see me engaged by the end of the weekend. I froze. While there was a weekend away planned with Boyfriend, I very much doubted that diamond rings were involved, but couldn’t think of any reply except “thanks”. Beautiful Boy gave me a strange look and we ordered another round. Once again, we were the last ones remaining.

We were settling back in our seats, when everything changed.
The Beautiful Boy looked at me with a total straight face, no smile, no laugh and said: “If you’re not married or engaged by the time I move back here next year, I’m asking you out for drinks.” Without hesitation or hint of playful flirtation I replied: “If I’m not married or engaged by the time you move back here next year, I’ll say yes”.

For the next hour we enjoyed a very sober conversation about our situation and the fact that we ‘really liked each other’. Then it was time to go home and I didn’t have my car there. Beautiful Boy gallantly offered to take me home. We were a block away when I heard myself say, “I don’t want to go home yet”. He looked at me for a second, then decisively turned the car around and drove us to a little cigar bar downtown.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2. friendship

I didn't allow it at the time, of course. I carried on talking as a friend, partied as a friend, said goodbye as a friend and went home with Boyfriend. I didn't let myself think about the DVD and his gorgeous smile and his ever-present laugh. I was sure I could forget the way it felt as if my heart just dropped when I watched that gorgeous smile and heard that ever-present laugh.

Over the next month a friendship grew. There were plenty of parties and socials that kept bringing the group together and multiple reasons for us to be in touch. One evening when we'd all met for another birthday celebration, Beautiful Boy and I had so much to say to each other that we ended up being the last two friends at the bar. As we were discussing my long-term relationship and the benefits of being committed to someone for such a long time, I didn't feel guilty or in the wrong.
Then Beautiful Boy suddenly got up and announced the end of the evening. He didn't even walk me to my car.
Phew! I felt lucky that I'd obviously mastered my supposed feelings for him (or at least hidden them well) and he had none for me. Life could carry on as before.
A twinge of disappointment was unceremoniously suppressed.

Our mutual friends had noticed this 'absolutely platonic' friendship forming, and tongues were wagging. No one said anything to me but Beautiful Boy was called up and made to answer for flirting so outrageously with a girl who was "about to get married". Boyfriend and I were in therapy partly to figure out why we DIDN’T want to get married. To each other. But after ten years together everyone was just waiting for it I guess.

So Beautiful Boy retracted somewhat from our intense chats and I reasoned that our relationship was finding its balance somewhere between flirty and friendly. Which suited me just fine. I was busy enough sorting through an emotional wasteland with Boyfriend and had no time to contemplate new friendships with beautiful boys.

Monday, September 1, 2008

1. in the beginning

A little more than a year ago, I had a boyfriend. For a very long time.
We'd been together since school and had spent more than ten years together.
He didn't always treat me with all the respect and affection I needed.
I'd cheated on him more than once.
We weren't in love anymore.
We were trying to keep it together.
We went for counselling.
I was needy and sad and sorry and he was cold and sad and untrusting. We lived very separate lives.

In my separate life I was happy and successful and had plenty of fabulous, interesting friends to do all kinds of fabulous, fun things with. One day at the end of summer, I met a Fashionista friend for sunset drinks at a beautiful hotel bar on the oceanfront. Fashionista brought another friend. An intelligent, optimistic, generous, charming, laughing, tall, beautiful boy.

I really liked this boy. But he lived far away and was only visiting on holidays. I was relieved to hear this. I wouldn't have to think about this beautiful boy or get to know him better or wonder what it would be like to have a boyfriend who is such a beautiful boy...

A month later, the naughty Beautiful Boy was in my hometown again. At Fashionista's birthday party, which I was attending with my boyfriend. Beautiful Boy was still laughing, still beautiful. I giggled with a single Careergirl friend about how cute he was and told her to pursue him. Then I spent the next couple of hours thinking about him and getting to know him a bit and almost wondering what it would be like...

Later in the evening he played a DVD of him skydiving. I stood in a small crowd, watching the visuals while the party music kept playing out loud. There he was on the screen: smiling nervously, looking vulnerable, acting brave, jumping, screaming, falling, laughing, laughing, laughing all the way.

By the end of it, I was in love.