This heart

yes it is a foolish old thing and never seems to learn.  Goran is just for fun, they all are.  Amy is slowly beginning to reach that conclusion and realisation that the only constant is herself.

Not many days ago she hadn’t wanted to meet up with Goran and told him as much the day before.  It wasn’t meant to be a test but he cycled up to see her and then at the end of the afternoon she drove him and his bike home with the dog in the backseat – to meet his son and ex-girl friend who had been babysitting earlier.  She’s sweet and seems kind, if a little kooky.  His son is adorable of course.  They were both leaving the next day to meet Mrs Goran (who had driven ahead on a road trip across Europe with her boyfriend) for the new year and rest of the holidays.  So they said their goodbyes that evening.

Meanwhile, at half past 4 the following afternoon Amy went back to the online dating website and created a new profile – or rather filled one out – the new girl is called Louellalynn, looks fun and flirty, sounds witty, sparky and wholesome – what thinking man if he’s out there wouldn’t date her?

Someone, let’s call him Jeremy from Cambridge started chatting to her almost as soon as the ink was dry as it were – he seemed interesting, mature and they swapped phone numbers.   There had also been a few salacious exchanges with younger men that evening and the following morning she took Louellalynn’s profile down.

She went round to Jan’s last night for dinner with him and his young sons and then drove home at 1am.  He told her that he was beginning to feel less enamoured of his new woman.  Although it sounds like they got very familiar and comfortable around each other very quickly.  Before Amy left they gave each other a warm hug and kiss goodbye.

Getting to a place of peace and tranquility gradually has been the goal, now with the realisation that these men are just friends, some with more sexual fun than others – Goran mainly on this front and Jan and Ramon to a lesser extent and not at all with Liam these days.  The experience was not too comfortable the last time.  Just for today, she feels happy not to be chatting anyone else up.  There’s a quiet sense of calm, a stillness that seems finally willing to remain pinned down.

Longing

trying to be me without looking at you
i glanced in the mirror, and winced
at the reflection of this person
is the only constant me?

where is the constant you?

is it the one who made the effort
to trek an hour and a half across London
merely to come and see me
or was that just a booty call?

even that is a constancy – the shag
we agreed at once a week, all things being equal
when neither of us is on holiday
or family duty

or is it the one for whom my heart beats a little faster
when I hear the SMS ping and glance down at the screen
and see his name with a message next to it
the one with whom I’m engaged in banter

but that’s an untold story
of what may come in the new year
and i must stay true to me
the only constant right here.

Dishonest goodbyes

Have you decided if you never ever want to see me again? Or shall we still celebrate the end of year as a leaving dinner?

Several days had passed since their last conversation – the one where in a fit of disappointment and anger she had told him how bitterly she felt at being let down and that she never wanted to see him again. He had not argued with her and she believed that that was truly the end. She was so practised at distracting herself from a broken heart – sending off three SOS’s to her current lovers – Jan, Liam and Ramon – who rallied round and comforted her, that she believed herself capable of breaking off contact from Goran, at least for the next six months. Six months was the length of time it took to get over an infatuation she knew – having practised this with several exes – of whom Ramon and a few others had numbered amongst.

The following day she had left London and was spending the weekend in Copenhagen. Following the footsteps of fictional Nordic detectives she had also been able to keep sufficiently busy not to feel overly miserable.

When she received the message from Goran his question made her realise how childishly she had reacted – never ever. She had pondered half a day on his questions when another message arrived from him:

It’s just that I bought you this gift, and I’d really like to give it to you.

It was churlish not to respond. So she wrote back – That’s very kind of you to still offer. I thought we should have a break from seeing each other. Let’s have radio silence for a few months. He had replied indicating his surprise at the prescribed length of time, but again, did not argue with her.

The following day, after a tiring traipse around Malmö she had repaired to a brasserie for lunch and several glasses of red wine. By the end of the meal of tuna nicoise she had drunk the best part of four glasses – large glasses at that. Her thoughts had naturally turned to Goran – he occupied them every conscious second she realised, and sent him a message –
Hey. I have recovered from being let down – let’s have a goodbye thingy – 21st any good for you? And I’ll try and explain why I need radio silence for a while

And just like that, it was almost as though the previous week had not occurred in that they continued to message each other with the same frequency as before, sharing their daily routine with each other with the same previous banality, but with one subtle difference. She reined in the number of emojis she had been wont to pepper her messages and did not send as many kisses as she did before. She wondered if he might have noticed. He did not seem to although when she asked him what kind of leaving celebration he had had in mind he had said that he had booked the restaurant and the rest was up to her. He assured her that he would not let her down again.

The day she was to return to London he had wished her a safe journey and asked again whether they were going to kiss and say goodbye at the end of their meal together. She told him that she thought perhaps they should have an honest discussion about what they each wanted from the relationship. He could only apologise again for letting her down before and reiterating his appreciation for this second chance. As a parting shot she asked him if he would still go home with her if she wanted him to. He responded immediately and warmly his assent. He continued to say that that had been occupying his thoughts the entire morning. As it was only half past seven she had teased him about it – you mean all of ten minutes. He had protested that he had been awake for quite a while before messaging her.

By the time they met they had already arranged that he would spend the night with her and the long, honest discussion about their expectations were condensed into a promise from him not to disappoint her in future, his desire to continue having her as a friend and she knew that she would not expect anymore from him than the occasional date – perhaps once in ten days or so. They might continue to chat as often as they liked but he belonged in a family of which she was not a part.

_________________________________

It wasn’t possible to end a relationship purely by decree. There were feelings on both sides and the longer a relationship had been going, the more difficult it was to stop it. Even if they were separated by geographical distance, they could still keep in touch and arrange to see each other – perhaps with less frequency as before but the relationship would still continue. She realised that whatever might happen over the next year she still enjoyed Goran’s company and looked forward each day to his messages. And his body of course.

in the cold light of day

The following day she received a message from MJ –

Hi beautiful Asian princess,

If you read this message, meet me at 15:00 at the station, where we took the metro yesterday, upstairs by the entrance.

Kiss

 It flattered and amused her that she was still in his thoughts.  On the walk to the little mermaid she wondered again whether she would still like to meet him.  There was the adventurous and impulsive side of her who said yes, go ahead – you may never have this chance again.  The more mature and circumspect part of her cautioned against it and the old self-doubt with low self-esteem reminded her that she would only appear ridiculous – her mature years next to his youthful visage and demeanour.

In the end curiosity and a sense of (mis)adventure prompted her to reply –

Well in the cold light of day you might think differently about me 😉. 
All right I shall meet you at street level next to the metro.

They walked about the city and after half an hour of aimless meandering he mustered the courage to propose a different outing –

I just want to whisk you away from this crowd.
Really?  Where to?
How do you feel about a party?
Tell me more – what kind of party?

When he told her it was a swingers’ club, the disappointment she felt at the revelation rather surprised her – what did she really expect from this young man – obviously sex was his sole purpose for striking up a conversation with her.  And her conscience dug deeper – sex and material advantage perhaps?

So in a coffee bar next to yet another tourist site they kissed their goodbyes and said their well wishes.  He left to look for another more amenable encounter and she wondered how much alcohol might have been the reason for her open responses of the day before.

A message from Jan asking her how she was doing whilst she sat at the bar nursing another coffee inspired a flurry of exchanges after she sorrowfully declared that she now had proof that she looked old enough to be a sugar mummy, having just been propositioned by a man who appeared half her age.

He reminded her that half a year ago she might not have been so reticent at the young man’s proposal and asked her what had changed – and so soon.  She had no answer for him – there could be any number of reasons and the combination of them:

1. She had recently broken up with Goran but was not in need of rebound sex.
2. She was in a strange city.
3.  She did not fancy the young man because he was too young, he had come on to her and made it too obvious – she liked doing the chasing…
4. She wanted more than just sexual encounters.
5.  She was not ready to open her heart or proceed with courage.
6.  Swinging sex was not appealing at this stage.
7.  She had only one condom on her and that was an insufficient number.

She realised that she was being silly and decided to return to the apartment.  When she arrived she saw a message from Goran.  With her heart racing, she read it and …