I am sitting at my desk at the back of the house overlooking the garden. It is damp and grey with a thin drizzle hanging in the air outside. The weather is a reflection of my mood. My summer love has left me because he couldn’t forget the one that got away. I would never learn her name or anything about her except that 2 years after she left he was still unable to forget her. He had shown me the place on his body where he had had himself marked to remember her by – a tattoo of a ring with a simple design set in a swirling pattern, not unlike the swirls in a Van Gogh painting. It is nothing short of remarkable for a Japanese man to ink his body – only the yakuza do it and they are the pariah of civilised society. I’d had a sense of foredooming about our affair but not been able to trace it accurately or identify the reason for my fears. And when I let myself believe too much that I might fall in love again, Tetsuo had let me know how much the girl who got away was still very much in his heart.
The events which led to our break up are still an embarrassment for me to recount – suffice to say it did not end well and included a firm closing of the front door and henceforth to this day I have not clapped eyes on my lover again. What began as a light hearted romance continued in two separate trajectories for us – in T’s case it must have remained a dalliance all the way to the end; for me, the affair became something overwhelming to the point that I had been unable to consider that my lover might not have felt the same way as me. The scales very rapidly began to fall from my eyes one evening and painful as it is I realise now that our affair really has come to an end, confirmed a few days later when my lover finally wrote to explain why he was letting me go.
The following is a diary of happier days – those moments two people share at the beginning of a budding romance.
How it began
The day I met him was one of the hottest that year. We’d arranged to meet at Kenwood House at 3pm and promptly on the hour he arrived soaked in perspiration having traipsed across the Heath from Hampstead station in the south. I think he didn’t feel too comfortable about this and when I made a few jokes about it I’m not sure if that only made things worse. We sat down in the shade of an abundant jasmine in the corner of a cafe patio with my tea and his coke. He soon got over his nervousness.
Mostly we talked about films, books and poetry and the time just flew by. When we were sufficiently refreshed we decided to walk up towards Parliament Hill. On a bench overlooking London we continued our conversation. I told him about a few of my unsuccessful dates – men who did not set a good impression simply by their malodorous presence. He must have realised that personal hygiene was one of my deal breakers.
He was charming and amusing and I’m left guessing at the end of this meeting if he would want to see me again. He did walk me to my car even though it was at the opposite end to where he needed to go, but he declined my offer of a lift to his train station. We said good bye without touching. Perhaps I’d intimidated him with my talk about not tolerating unpleasant odours …
The following morning he sent me a text message:
(back at work, boo!) Thank you again for a lovely afternoon yesterday. It was great to meet you and not notice the hours flying by. I’d very much like to see you again (with a fresh batch of questions, uncomfortable or otherwise) and hope you would too.
And throughout the day we sent messages to each other.
It all culminated with an invitation to dinner.
The First Date – Rasa N16
This was a very pleasant evening with a lot of banter and more freely flowing conversation. At the end of the meal we went for a walk, carried on talking light heartedly until eventually it was time for me to get on the bus to go home.
There was a palpable air of expectation while we waited in spite of the bright lighting from the kebab shop with its numerous staff and customers looking directly onto the bus stop where we were. Still, I asked him what might be on his mind. He said he wanted to kiss me but wasn’t sure of my reaction. I urged him to boldness and we kissed – many promising, sensuous, soft kisses which caused me to miss not one, not two but several buses.
I went home with a spring in my step. On the bus we texted each other:
Just saw all these texts from you. Thank u!! And thank you for a lovely evening.
I especially enjoyed saying goodbye
Thank you too for another lovely date. I also very much enjoyed our goodbye and look forward to our next hello x
The Second Date – Eat Tokyo
I rushed my toilette to meet him. So eager was I that I forgot ear rings and watch. Dinner went well, we laughed over my taking a picture of him having his first meal with me and the evening looked promising. I invited him back home and we were a little self conscious in my room as we undressed each other. He warned me half a second before he removed his shirt, asking if i minded a man with tattoos. I was a little startled as he didn’t strike me as someone who would be tattooed!
I’d so wanted the sex to be good but the first time left me thinking that perhaps I don’t turn T on as much as he me. Even so the man has a sexy way with words and I’ve just wasted some more time this afternoon thinking about him. I think we deserve a second chance.
The Third Date – Before I go to sleep
We met at the foyer of the cinema – I was really looking forward to meeting my date again. We said our hellos and I was mildly surprised he didn’t offer to kiss me since at our previous meeting he’d greeted me with a kiss on the cheek. I wondered if this was going to be the run up to the end.
I wouldn’t blame him – my entire way of living is the opposite to his. He leads a most ethical, vegan and unimpeachable lifestyle whereas I have a few fur-lined coats and at least one sheep skin jacket! I now see all the animal products in my house through his eyes and wonder how he manages to bring himself to visit me. It is no small wonder that he has not managed to have an orgasm in our last two attempts at coitus. Despite this I thoroughly enjoy his company and I hope he mine. But I’m quite sure that it is only a matter of time before he bids me farewell and finds a worthier companion.
All the same I have learnt some new things from T –
I discover that I’m turned on by how he smells naturally compared to the mask he applies. When he kisses me it makes me feel warm and smiley and then as his tongue grows bolder and plunges into my mouth I find myself completely aroused with the rush of anticipation.
He also makes me laugh a lot. It has been a very pleasurable way to spend the weekend – sleeping, waking to kiss and more, falling asleep and repeating it all over. Eventually I returned him home in the late morning and finally said goodbye. I know that I have been slightly thrown off my emotional balance as I quite forgot how to operate my car on trying to drive away.
The Fourth Date – A most wanted man
I met my lover last night at a cinema in Angel. Later that evening, (after the film had ended and we were recovering from the shocking denouement – at least I was), he tells me that the tube station was named after a pub – the Angel, which in turn was so called because of the angels of the night, the prostitutes who frequented the area. He is a mine of information, this man.
We kissed our hellos, smiley kisses on lips and kiss some more later at bus-stops and other public places. I think later and still do, that I can grow too fond of him. We go for dinner and the time flies by unnoticed – he tells me a little about what he does. I hoped that he’d ask me back to his and he does. We get on a Boris Bus, my first time on one, a no. 38. It’s new and clean and climate controlled, although the windows don’t open – he tells me about a ventilation failure one hot summer’s day on the way home from work when it had got unbearably stifling.
At his, we lie together in the front room and enjoy listening to some music on his playlist – a female singer on an acoustic guitar. Who knows we might never have got off the sofa if my legs hadn’t felt cold. In his bedroom he has a painting of a nude kneeling, her face averted, a cloth modestly draped across her body. The background is in hot orange and red; his bedcovers too are in the same hues, and redolent of bodily smells. It takes me a while to get used to this and it must be a testament of how much I am already a little in love with him that I’m not completely put off. In fact most things that would ordinarily put me off – sweating in buckets for example, don’t at all! I’m a little amazed at how drenched in sweat T can get. We kiss a lot and he likes how wet I get, tasting me on his fingers. We rather tentatively tell each other our preferences but not everything, as all this is still very new.
In the morning it’s time to go after another cuddle. We get ready and he walks me to my stop. All too soon the bus is there. We kiss goodbye rather hurriedly. I hope I see him again – he promises one day next week but isn’t sure.
The Fifth Date – candlelit
I invited my lover round for dinner and at the last minute decided to light all the candles and tealights in the dining room. The place was transformed! He was a little overwhelmed and must’ve thought … I don’t know what he thought … but my 12 year old daughter was rather taken aback when she came downstairs and demanded to know who I was throwing a birthday party for.
He arrived early having biked 10 miles from home and was padded out in all his cycle gear. I kissed him, he smelt deliciously of masculine effort and I would have liked to have ravished him on the spot except that the jealous hound was protesting loudly, my daughter might’ve come downstairs again and the dinner was on the hob. So I had to content myself with only a kiss.
Tempus fugit yet again – we talked through the night not getting much sleep at all, for the next thing we knew, it was about 3 or 4 am. Kissing each other good night, I fell asleep almost straightaway.
I can never lie successfully despite not wishing to hurt or upset anyone. So when T asked if we could meet this Friday I found it hard to smoothly decline. In the end he realises that I have made a date with another man.
In spite of that I’m invited back and one evening was received on his sofa, he in red pyjama bottoms and a T shirt.
We kissed and cuddled for a bit and it was past midnight when he suggested that we go to bed. His bedlinen is now a lovely creamy cotton and as it was so late I wasn’t expecting him to want anything other than go to sleep. I think it was his pyjamas – they had I’m not having sex with you written all over them. But he did remove them before getting into bed. I, rather foolishly had kept my vest and pants on prompting T to comment on my being a tad over-dressed for our romantic tryst.
I woke up several times in the night and had lain there thinking amongst other things, of the few times I’d actually slept through the night in somebody else’s bed since my marriage broke up. I leaned over to kiss him on his back once, just wanting a little human touch. Later in the morning I took him in my arms under protest. He seems to think that I deliberately wake him up to keep me company! I’m sure he’s teasing me again – how can anyone object to cuddles in bed?
We make arrangements to see each other the following week so things appear to be on an even keel so far. When I drove home the car drives itself back almost smoothly now that it’s learnt this route in such a short time – but then when he moves house it shall have to learn a whole new route.
Date Cancelled – man down
We were to have met up tonight but instead he has caught a bug. Or is that code for putting on the brakes …
I suppose it has been going a little too well until now – dates with T. We’d only stumbled on each other at the end of last month and so it’s still new and exciting with a lot more to find out. And until we stop enjoying each other’s company there’s no reason why we shouldn’t carry on as we are. He doesn’t live too far away and all the expectation when preparing for the next date with him is still novel enough to provide a thrill – Casanova springs to mind. The world’s greatest lover had said that the most exciting part of all his ‘adventures’ was the feeling of anticipation as he climbed the stairs to his ladies’ chambers.
The Seventh Date – gone girl
What started out as another movie and noodles date (with a lot of hand holding in the cinema – delish! and having a laugh on the bus over a confusion about seating arrangements with another couple) ended with a very indulgent morning spent mostly in bed.
Much earlier I’d woken up and left T to catch up on sleep. I took the dog out into a mild morning, not raining yet with the occasional sunny rays brushing the ground and tree tops as the clouds scud across, gathering in the distance into an ominous grey mass. The dog and I went to say hello to the horses in the field. The white one is the boldest, leaning his muzzle down for me to stroke him. The hound went mad with jealousy and so we had to move on.
We didn’t take the turning up to the Darland’s which would have added another hour to the walk as I wanted to get back to my lover. I peeped into the room and saw him fast asleep still, so tiptoeing back downstairs I slipped out to get a paper and coffee, leaving breakfast to cook gently in the oven. When I get back I turn off the cooker and go upstairs with the paper and a couple of oranges. T is awake and smells divinely masculine. We kissed and in the middle of our romp, I ask him – Would you like me to lick you? to which he replies – When would I ever say no?
Later, I go down and get the breakfast together, put everything on a tray and we had breakfast in bed. I enjoy indulging my lover – after all I hadn’t seen him since last weekend and I love having his company this lazy Saturday morning – lazier especially as it got wetter and windier towards midday. I kissed my lover goodbye outside his place and by the time I got home it was already half past one.
T is in the middle of house renovations, intent on teal for his bedroom. It also happens to be one of my favourite colours but I send a picture to my lover telling him that besides teal there’s also purple …
The picture had been taken nearly ten years ago at a time when I was getting over someone else’s mid life crisis. Am I going through a crisis of my own now? An old friend having read a post in my blog sent me a message, he said he hadn’t realised 10 years ago what I must’ve been going through – I’d put on a false bravura of keeping calm and managing the show then, and remarked that it must have been trying times – a complete understatement!
I know though that I am happiest unfettered – forging new relationships, getting into the stride of singlehood – initially apprehensive, then audacious. I find that what is fun and pleasurable never seem to last. People tell me I shouldn’t be so honest – that men don’t like being one of many and I should be economical with the vérité. I’m sure with practice I can become skilled at this deceit too.
At present I’m quite happy enough to be the object of interest to my current lover, T and don’t hanker after new connections. I’m rather taken with him and cannot now imagine being intimate with anyone else.
It’s a frightening prospect – giving one’s heart to a single person to hold. We are all human and can quite conceivably drop even precious things.
An Impromptu Eighth Date – a leg over
My lover tells me that that picture in the last post inspired some salacious ideas, going into some graphic detail and since then whenever T intrudes on my consciousness I too cannot get the images out of my head.
So I sent him an invitation to chat. He called me on my mobile which rather surprised me as this was something that T isn’t a big fan of, apparently something to do with awkward silences. To me silences are only problematic if you felt the need to fill them. When he asks me how I was I suddenly felt uncomfortable, perhaps a little bashful about the lascivious mental pictures earlier.
After about 20 odd minutes of this my lover said that he still wasn’t persuaded phone conversations were his thing, that he much preferred face to face contact. I seized my opportunity and suggested that I could drive over for just such contact. He thought I wasn’t being serious although when he realised the offer was genuine he readily acceded.
I drove to my lover’s and had my leg over. I’m sure he quite enjoyed it too. I was sorry to leave him but he must be grateful for an uninterrupted night’s sleep and after all we’re to meet again mid-week although there may be some doubt about this, some urgent matter to do with a competition involving pastry. Que sera sera …
The Ninth and Tenth Dates – at the mercy of the weather
We went out on a wet autumn evening, hair dripping, coat soaked. We were to have met at the theatre bar and saw the text from him – theatre bar not open. Would I go to the pub round the corner – The Marquess of Anglesey, an Anglicized version of the French/European Marquis. He was drinking a fairly dense red on the bright side of refreshing so I thought I’d join him too. We were both rather tired but the play was hilarious and I laughed myself almost hoarse. After that we went to grab a bite at a vegetarian Indian.
I haven’t been myself all week – we had met on Friday evening previously at Manna – a vegan restaurant in Primrose Hill. T was more than delighted at my choice of dining venue, having been there once before. Later he’d come back to mine and we went straight upstairs for a slow cuddle which became a lot more.
The morning after had seen a repeat of the previous weekend – papers, more kisses and cuddles, breakfast and then it was time for him to go.
I’ve had a lot on my mind this week and I guess so has he and so the dates of the last few days have seemed a little off. I think we were still very happy to be in each other’s company and the sex is now very good. I’m not seeing anyone else anymore and perhaps it feels a little scary putting myself in a position of exclusivity – this is of my own volition, not anything asked for or expected by my lover – I just felt that it would be the right thing to do almost instinctively even from much earlier – not wanting my lover to think I was a complete tart.
My heart sings that he wants to see me again next week – his busy week of house moves &c.. and on his birthday too. I was inspired to write the a silly poem about love and kisses.
He said – I got sprung
in the context of my sending him a photo of me in a fleecy pyjama top and knee high socks to prove how unsexy fleecy jammies are; I’d thought he meant he was surprised by the text pic.
I should just ask him what he means but I fear that would be too close to becoming one of those where are we at type of conversations which always spoils things. At the moment this guessing and hoping adds a frisson of excitement to everything we do. I think I too might be a little sprung.
He texted me later that he meant the crude version of the definition. I felt mildly ridiculous but then he said there was nothing wrong about romanticising the crude, which made me feel slightly better.
We couldn’t meet up on Tuesday but he called me in spite of his headache and nightmare dealings over house purchasing. At the end of the call I felt as if I would burst with emotion.
The Eleventh Date – half a century
T celebrated his birthday today. Last night I went round to his new home – he’d warned me about the state of it, except of course i misunderstood his messages. I have this tendency to overthink plain statements like this one:
This is NOT me trying to get rid of you, but you may want to come over tomorrow evening and then retreat to more comfort at home. I would not be offended! (The floor sander guy is coming around at 8am…)
I wondered if he actually meant that he’d rather be on his own and was trying to put me off – he’d already cancelled our date last Tuesday after all. I tell myself that it would be all right, I can try to understand his wanting to be alone; and even as I do this there is that familiar nub of despair that gnaws at your insides – in the pit of your stomach, because the truth of it is that the sharp pain of rejection is always at the ready to strike. I try to be level-headed about it and sometimes logic prevails eventually, but never without the initial pang of uncertainty. He patiently explains himself that he really would like to see me but was conscious that his place was not at its most comfortable.
Even so, as I was driving to see my lover last night, excited on the one hand, I continued to feel a tinge of sadness. I’m not sure why.
I found a diary entry I’d scribbled down a few days ago:
It’s now a part of me that I obsess and enthuse over a new connection. I know I’m not so good at making it last. My life is littered with good beginnings, but nothing really finished. My intentions are always pure and selfless but things become difficult. I don’t know when awkwardness creeps in but gradually it spoils the initial passion and we’re all left to pick up the pieces all over again.
So although I feel myself infatuated over T, I am also afraid that it may not last and we’ll end up a few years down the line older and none the wiser and separately alone again.
When we met last night I was honestly delighted to see my lover – we had a delightful but exhausting evening – some pizza was eaten, a lot of alcohol was also consumed – 2 bottles of champers and one of red, a bit of Scrabble was played. I stopped the game when it appeared that he was not going to win, although I may be a tad unfair on this; he opened some of his presents, a lot of kissing and heavy petting were also indulged in, and I only remember exclaiming at the lateness of the hour when sleep began to tug at my lids.
We had a very satisfying romp in the morning – both not entirely disrobed, my lover rather fetchingly with his jeans around his ankles, boots still on, and despite the racket of floor sanding going on in the room above. The air mattress added an interesting bouncier dimension to our lovemaking! We took some very intimate photographs, at my instigation and then my lover insisted that I sent some of them to him. I was initially reluctant to do so but was persuaded when he gave his word that he would keep them safe. I trust that he would not share them and I also felt that I could not deny him on his special day when he begged for a record of it spent so satisfyingly.
I am my lover’s first visitor to his new house and one of the people he shared his birthday with. I sometimes feel though that he doesn’t think I’m good enough, that he’s keeping me apart – it’s as if I’m a naughty secret he is unwilling to share with the rest of his life. He asked me if it bothers me that he hasn’t accepted my friend request on facebook and I shrugged. It really depends on one’s perspective of social media: I for one am comfortable about revealing most aspects of my life on it and to some extent we all edit out the bits of our lives that we deem as socially unacceptable. I know though that ordinarily, ie without the dating website, we might never have met and perhaps he feels that there would be a clash if the two things he’s keeping apart were to come together. I quite like the idea of being his dirty little secret though, maybe I was a concubine in another life.
The Twelfth Date – more coitus interruptus
I’m going to have a bath. Ping me when you’re setting off to make [sure] I’m out and can answer the door for you
How long u gonna be in there??
Until you ping me
I’m only just walking the dog now!!
Setting off likely to take 35 mins xx
The above exchange is open to two different interpretations apparently! His version is that I meant setting off *is* likely to take 35 mins, ie I’ll be walking the dog for another 35 mins. My version is setting off *now,* likely to take 35 mins. In any event he was out of the bath in time to let me in, although I wouldn’t have minded being greeted at the door by him solely clad in bubbles.
There was another awkward moment – involving observations and throw away comments – we don’t seem to speak the same language except for kisses and cuddles which smoothed the wrinkle away so that by morning all is forgotten (despite a very restless night of a noisy air bed with a voice of its own).
Like the weekend the morning frolic was fraught with the possibility of interruption by workmen. In the end I left my lover to come home after more kisses and promise of another date soon. I don’t know whether this will last as I remember all the other failed relationships in my past.
T and I had a short break of not seeing each other, not by design but simply a clash of work and personal life schedules. I distract myself by going out for drinks with an old friend, someone I’d dated previously. We ended up talking about relationships in general, amongst other things and how at the early stages there’s a tendency to romanticise and forget that we might all have feet of clay until the day comes when they are revealed and it may be far too late – hearts get broken or we become too old to do the dating rounds again – to protect ourselves we might put obstacles in the way, or only engage purely at a platonic level or date many at the same time – the last tactic had been working really well for me until this lover came along. I’d stopped going out with the few who had been lurking on the scene at the same time as T.
My friend observes that I appear to be putting obstacles in the way of my relationship with T by my constant doom-casting. It hadn’t occurred to me. He thinks that I seem more miserable dating one than when I had stories to tell him about the many and that I was being disingenuous about my feelings even to myself! His implication was that I was deliberately trying to sabotage this relationship when I should simply let it run its course. I point out that he is not the most reliable of observers given his own track record and I should know my own heart better than anyone else. He says perhaps he envies my very obviously infatuated state claiming that he’s never ever felt that way about anyone before. I’m afraid of losing T and yet I sense the inevitability of its ending.
And T continues to lust after my body I discover one afternoon as he sends me a suggestive message – relaxing and having some horny thoughts about you.
The Thirteenth Date – The Judge
We met, saw a film, ate too much for dinner, made love and fell asleep.
We have another little cuddle in the shed when we go there later in the morning to get something for his painting and decorating. It starts with him kissing the back of my neck which can always be guaranteed to get the appropriate response in me. We don’t have our talk of where we’re at until it was nearly time for him to go. He tells me that he is all right about my dating others at the same time. Of course the same would apply to him too.
At the moment things are sweet and very easy with T and I should just enjoy it for what it is.
We have a few more dates and then one Tuesday he sends me the following text message while I was out:
Hey you, hope your day has gone well. I’ve been thinking about us meeting up again and the limited options I’ve got this week: I’m out tomorrow and Thursday with ex-colleagues who are passing through London and, in the spirit of openness and transparency, I have a date on Saturday night with someone from Soulmates (I’ve not been actively looking for anyone else but she contacted me and I’m intrigued to meet her as she works for an organisation that is very close to mine: could be strategically useful 😊 ). So I don’t know what your schedule is like, but Friday and Sunday evenings work for me, and there’s always Saturday and Sunday daytime if we wanted to branch out and do something during daylight x
I tell him that I’m ok about him seeing the other woman, but I couldn’t help feeling that gnawing-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling. I push it away by telling myself that I’d be all right. I couldn’t also help feeling a little hypocritical as I’m still seeing someone else although we don’t indulge in much sex – it’s a more platonic relationship and I enjoy the social aspect of that connection more than the physical.
So T and I arrange to meet up on Friday evening.
The Seventeenth Date
T is in the wars again – an old injury from a cycling accident of several years back when he was run over twice. He is quite fortunate to have survived at all. But it means that he suffers from chronic pain in his right foot. in spite of this, we managed to have a pleasant supper which he’d cooked in the afternoon. Between us we had two bottles of red wine finishing the second in front of a film my lover had downloaded. It was fun and action-packed with lots of charm and silliness. I was tired and I can’t imagine how much more uncomfortable T must have felt with his sore foot.
In the morning, despite the agony my lover valiantly made love to me. I couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming warmth and tenderness towards him and wondered if he returned my feelings.
As I was leaving, T suggests that we meet up midweek.
Events leading up to the break up
The sweetness doesn’t last. I am so embarrassed by my own actions and feel as though I could never see him again.
T was due to come to me this evening at his own suggestion but at the last minute he puts me off with one reason or other – this time it’s Skype calls with work colleagues which turned into floor/household renovations. I don’t know what it is except that clearly he didn’t want to meet up. Instead of cancelling with honesty he makes up these reasons and I, still blithely unaware, said I didn’t mind going over to his.
I make my way over but discover that my lover was not really keen to see me after all. I left when I realised this and cannot believe my own foolishness. My pride was hurt but my heart will recover because it’s learnt all these years from all failed past relationships that it was time to leave when you are no longer the one treasured.
This is confirmed by T’s email to me
So after an affair which did not go beyond eighteen dates it was finally over. Getting over him was very painful in the first weekend but I can say that with time the pain fades and being optimistic about what the future holds certainly helps.
What to do with the present I’d already got him? I wrapped it up and stuck a post-it note on it to remind me not to be so silly over the next one – but where have I heard that before?