Dark brown eyes kohl framed look at me across a dining table in London’s west end on a weekday lunchtime in late October. After the best part of four years this is the first occasion on which me and the X have sat and talked together on any meaningful level, it’s arguable it has been far longer still than that if the truth be told. I’ve avoided meeting her for so long partly out of some idea of self-preservation, partly a conviction that out of sight meant out of mind. Now four years on I am curious, how time will have moved each of us, how I will feel seeing her, how she may see me and after all four years is a long time to avoid someone.
And there we sit, talking and watching each other, the eyes I look into are the same as I remember, deep brown, soft & gentle, part of me goes back to memory, another part looks for changes. I notice crows feet around her eyes, perhaps a little ageing or tiredness, maybe even a hint of a little pain in those eyes, and then again perhaps I am just looking to make her imperfect, or less than I had once thought. Then in a kind of karmic balancing I have a fit of coughing, the result of a heavy chest cold & she says says I look & sound awful and the world is balanced once more.
Our conversation is one of inconsequential words exchanged, banalities are perhaps those that fit best, neither of us wishing or choosing to go into meatier & deeper discussion. There’s a scouting around like this for a while, we eat, we chatter. We talk little about the past, perhaps that is where it is best left, she has heard about a woman I had met on my travels, families are discussed, the possibility of parenthood and then from nowhere she talks about our relationship and how it began, she says I married out of a sense of duty. When I hear this I finally understand, her story of our relationship was one in which I had never loved her. With this her story, everything that follows makes sense, it’s taken a very long time for me to get it.
And what of me, what his-story had I made? Mine has been defined by how I have viewed it’s conclusion, none of what went before held value, it was ultimately a tale of untruth & illusion. The good times the affection the healthy memories count for nothing.
We conclude our lunch and head together towards the tube station, the things that I would like to have said remain unsaid, there was no place for them, perhaps also for her there was that same sense. As we pass the barriers of Oxford Circus tube we are heading in opposite directions on different tube lines. We say our goodbyes and diverge.
As I mull over the day on my tube journey today I was looking for change in my own feelings, over these last four years, what I find is neither good nor bad, no sense of peace, or acceptance, no feelings of loss or of freedom, instead just a flat-line. To have no feeling is perhaps the most frustrating of all. And yet I got just what I was looking for after such a long time, I wanted to be able to not have feelings for this woman, and now when this has finally happened it brings me no satisfaction. Instead just the thought of two people who’s journeys converged and ran parallel for a time that now go in opposite directions, no more no less.