Inshallah

I consumed my weekly allocation of alcohol last night, but it was worth it.

I caught up with people who have known me for a very long time, and who care for me a lot. That’s a very small demographic these days.

One of the topics of conversation was my Facebook status updates since the new year. Since deciding to open up I’ve been a lot more candid and intimate. Over the journey I’ve received some puzzled responses from long-time friends struggling to reconcile this new and open character with the inscrutable person they knew. Not everyone has been fully understanding, but overall the reception has been good.

I was surprised to find how much interest my updates had roused in my friends; and even more surprised to discover how positive they were.

One is an old friend of mum. She knows me well, and knows how close-mouthed I’ve always been when it comes to things personal. I knew she would be receptive. Her husband, however, a lovely, intelligent bloke, a self-made millionaire and hard-nosed entrepreneur, was equally supportive – and very curious. Where did it all come from he asked, before adding “I think it’s great”.

So I explained the genesis of it all and then, taking a deep breath, began to explain some of the hardship I’d suffered. I didn’t go into every detail, and the telling was in dribs and drabs rather than one, single confessional outpouring.

Over the course of the evening we ranged across different subjects sitting in the courtyard bar of Collins Quarter. I was urged to get hopping now that I had opened myself and find a girl. I was reassured it was not too late to become a father, and told I would be good at it. It was explained to me what an attractive proposition I was, unlike many, being sensitive, intelligent, articulate, well educated, and so on. I was told repeatedly, and with some surprise that “you look great!”. I was even told I had a different spring to my step and a changed demeanour.

I was grateful for all of this. I hadn’t really thought of it much beyond knowing that I wanted to finally settle down.

That’s a destination, vague and generic. The actuality of being the person who might achieve that was not something I had considered. I think I probably accepted I had the goods, but I hadn’t translated those qualities into a concept of an attractive commodity.

I was on the train this morning feeling thirsty and reflecting on some of this. Directly in my eye line was a tall and attractive Chinese girl, beautifully dressed. I looked at her as someone I might like, and then – and this was different from before – as someone I might possess. I felt as if I could go across to her, whisper in her ear, and have her lean into me affectionately. What a powerful feeling that is, and somewhat intoxicating. Yet I knew that is not what I want now.

Getting into work I found waiting for me an email from the girl here. She’s been away sick and I haven’t seen or spoken to her for over a week. There was a backlog of emails from me waiting for her though, and now she began to respond.

I responded to her. Soon enough we were talking on the phone too.

Our email communications are quasi affectionate, quasi flirtatious, and our phone conversations seemingly close and authentic, candid and natural. These modes of communication we can handle well, and become a form of outlet between us. It is less easy face to face, though it’s improving.

It’s like when we’re in each other’s presence we become aware of the subtext which we discard – or maybe embrace – when we communicate in other ways. It’s too real when we’re together, but over the phone or by email it’s more instinctive and pleasurable, almost as if by mutual consent we relax the rules governing our behaviour. (and as I write this another email comes in from her).

As before I’m being no more than myself, and in this case that’s someone fond and affectionate and with a wry, teasing wit. I’m happy for that to be what it is – and if something more comes from it all the better. No pressure though. What will be, will be.

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