From the instant we looked at each other, there was a connection. Chemistry. I took one look at him and liked him. My age perhaps or younger. Slim, nice looking. Comfortable in his own skin.
In the fifteen minutes it took him to drive me up Grosvenor Place, along Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue, we talked non-stop about all kinds of stuff. His love of Italy. Loads of different stuff. It felt like I'd known him for the longest time ... we were bantering like old friends. Easy. I didn't mention that I was a widow, because it no longer defines me as a person.
But then he asked me if I was on a date, and I explained that I wasn't. That I had become friends with a widower through blogging and we were having lunch together. And so, I found myself sharing my marital status with him ... but only in the context of lunch, rather than as a stand-alone subject. He asked me about Cliff and what happened. And then I found myself divulging more and more ...
"So, I don't date."
"You don't DATE?"
"No, I'm not ready for it. Just not ready for all that emotional shit. And complications. Every now and again, I meet up with an old friend who happens to be man enough to accept that I'm using and abusing him. He helps me. And never crosses that boundary, you know? He knows that I've compartmentialized it away from the rest of my life. Separate. No emotions attached. No bullshit. I don't need someone rocking up on my doorstep. Or projecting their emotional idiosyncracies onto me."
"Well, if I promise to do none of that, can I help you out. You're only an hour away."
We both laugh. Really laugh. Loudly. But not awkward. Comfortable.
And in an instant, we both know he's not joking. He knows exactly how to talk to me without coming across as an opportunist. He looks me straight in the eye and says, "you must get it all the time ... men giving out their standard chatup lines," and I say I used to, but these days I never know what to say and tend to go quiet."
I can feel him looking at me even though I'm looking at the floor. He says, "there really is something special about you apart what you can see. It's like you've got this extra thing ... an aura. Yes, that's it. You're surrounded by, you give out, you have an aura."
"Have I." I respond quietly. Still gazing at floor. Still feeling his eyes on me. Still feeling like I'm 15 again.
I'm wondering if my aura is love. Or if it's bright red, because all I can see in my mind ... is me climbing all over him. Or if my aura is in fact Cliff wrapping me up in his love. And it's that strong that this man can sense it. And if my aura changes colour according to who I'm with, how they make me feel, or if I sense that they are genuine ... that they get a glimpse of the girl that Cliff knew.
We arrive at Carluccio's and I have this compulsion to say, "take me somewhere later." Instead, there is more eye contact. A girl is climbing in the back of his cab, yet I'm still standing there. He's still looking at me, oblivious to his next fare. I want to say the words, but I'm mute. I turn to go across to the restaurant and we're still holding that eye contact.
I break eye contact to cross the road and he slowly eases off.
"Serendipity," I'm telling myself.
"Serendipity?" WTF is wrong with me? The universe has already taught me that the chances of things working out the way I want them to, are slim to none. I'm kicking myself. Why didn't I take his phone number?
"Serendipity," I tell myself. If you see him again, it's meant to happen.
"Serendipity?" I don't want to marry him. I just want to climb all over him. Feel alive. Laugh like I already know we can. And laugh in the way that you only can with a lover. I want to feel safe enough so I can let go. But not too safe, so there's that edge ...
"Serendipity," my friend says when I tell her about my 15 minute cab journey.
There are 120000 Black Cab drivers in London.
"He could be a serial killer," my other friend muses. "Well, that's a win-win for me," I respond. "I either get to be with Cliff again, or I get to enjoy him."
"You could ask Capital Radio or Radio One to put out an appeal," suggests another. "Are you shitting me? He'd think I was a bunny-boiler."
So, this song is dedicated to a man who lives in North London. A Black Cab driver who took me from Victoria to the corner of Garrick and Rose Street. The man who somehow managed to make me feel like me again. For 15 minutes.
I still want to climb all over him.
I wonder if he can make me forget my name.