Inspired by a piece in one of the weekend pull outs I recall that week I spent with Alan sailing in the Whitsundays, just the two of us because his wife had a deal she needed to close, and none of my friends was able to book a break on those dates. It was an adrenaline filled adventure and the sunsets each evening were breathtaking. We would spend every evening, having anchored off in a quiet cove, with a few cold beers and catch up on the last four decades.
We had grown up next door to each other and then gone our separate ways before our teens, several continents apart. It was one of his sisters who got us in touch again and initially I’d assumed his whole family was coming on the trip until I realised that in fact it was just going to be the two of us. We fell into an easy camaraderie from the very beginning. I was determined for us not to become a cliche – the one where the divorcee was an easy desperate target for the married man. So it was friendly and platonic and we worked well together skippering a forty footer sloop.
A few beers one star gazing night however, when the moon was late in its rising and the night sky was black as black so that every star shone and twinkled in their brightness our defences slipped a little. He was a self taught astronomer and keen to share his knowledge, I a willing pupil and looking through eye glasses, swapping some of them between us. It all led inevitably to a settling down on cushions on the deck, lying side by side to ease the unfamiliar ache on our necks, especially mine. His hand brushed mine and turning towards me I was aware what was going to happen the same second he kissed me full on my lips. It felt warm, soft and not unappealing. Fortunately I was not too drunk in the moment and stopped us from going further. I asked him if his wife was aware, if by any chance they had an open marriage, somehow intuiting that this was not the case and sure enough his response was in the negative.
Perhaps he had merely wanted a dalliance, curious as to what sex between us would be like. But I couldn’t take the risk of breaking up his happy middle class family. I’d already met his wife and I was certain that his sister would never forgive me or herself should it come to that, since it was through her that we had met up again. Somehow I managed to convince him of all this, citing my own dreadful experience of trust irretrievably broken due to a misapprehension from a midlife crisis and subsequent divorce. It wasn’t the time to say that one can survive a divorce, that now my ex husband and I enjoy a better relationship than before.
He respected my response but I couldn’t help wondering for the rest of the holiday and later, what it might have been like if we had slept together. And whether I would have allowed either of us to have let ourselves get carried away emotionally. Having tried to have a year of NSA sex last year I know that I eventually do let my emotions get the better of me and would only be deceiving myself that I was just enjoying a purely physical relationship.