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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The future

Mine is an unwanted and unplanned future.

It is not ours. Not our dreams. Not what we had planned.

But I do have a future. And I've just accepted that fact. In its entirety.

Australia proved to me that there is life out there for me. One option that I am still considering is to move to Sydney, as I can apply for roles at our Sydney office and my preferred residence would be in Leichardt (a little Italy, street cafe life, Italian restaurants, safe, with superb sights of the city). I love Australia almost as much as I love my family (who offered to sponsor me should I choose to move there, thus negating the need to jump through all the emigration hoops) and friends who live there.

The property type I had decided upon ... old world on the outside ... sleek stainless steel, granite, wooden flooring, outside decking, minimalist on the inside

But this weekend, I started thinking, I'd be swapping one rat race for another ... albeit a better climate and standard of living.

And so I started to investigate other options, most of which I quickly sent to the reject pile, however one idea grew and grew in interest and I think I might seriously go for it.

Spain.

It's nearer to most people I love. Peeps I'm close to are moving there, and other friends intend to retire there. I've always felt at home in this country and speak the language. The standard of living is good and I can buy a beautiful property there from half to two-thirds of the value of my home in the UK (which I would sell), thus releasing capital to fall back on just in case. I've pasted links below that show examples of the villas which fall inside this value bracket and they are mainly in the Almeria, Alicante, Malaga and Valencia areas.


Almeria





Alicante




Malaga



Valencia

So ... I could trade in the rat race for:

teaching English as a foreign language privately (from home, which is why I have chosen homes that have offices/extra rooms which can be adapted for this purpose). I'm already qualified (certificate and diploma) with two years experience under my belt. The going rate is 30 Euros (= $40 or £25) per hour, so this translates into only needing to work a twenty hour week.

and to supplement my income, all these villas have a separate "casita" included, which I could rent out to peeps on holiday. Not to mention they all have a spare guest room or two, which I am sure would be occupied regularly by friends and family visiting.

Oh ... and they are all walled and gated to ensure my two "perros" can't escape.

I've even thought about the fact that I can take a cutting of the fern and some soil to plant in my new home (from where Hammer - our Rottweiler - is buried) ... as well as keeping a small amount of Cliff's ashes to do the same, which goes without saying.





Working a 20 hour week, not having to commute ... hmmm, that does sound appealing. I could employ a cleaner once a week to rake the gravel over and clean (am good at keeping place tidy ... not so good at cleaning) while I prepared my lesson plans ... it would free up time to do ...

this this

this



this




and this


Oh, as well as exploring the country, rich in history ... moorish castles and white washed villages. Lemon trees and orange groves. Olive trees and siestas.

I figured that even though it's a future I'd rather not have ... it may as well be the best future I can live.

Here are some villas if you want to have a look:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-32636663.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-27135401.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-32632103.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-13879047.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-27165583.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-15336969.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-27841784.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-29319524.html

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-32599664.html

and the boring stuff is here:

http://rightmove-property.buyassociation.co.uk/169/BuyingGuide

and here: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/help-and-advice.html

When I shared these thoughts with my BFF, she announced that she might move with me ... we laughed at the prospect of once again sharing a home ... something we did when we were 18 years old ... she is the only person I can imagine living with and I'm secretly hoping she wasn't joking ... because she did look serious about it.

Yes, it's scary and I'd be alone a fair bit. But then I am now.

And I'm so fucking tired all the time.

This life might be something I can actually cope with, you know? Because right now I just can't keep my balls up in the air. Something always drops. It can't be work. So it's my health, my lack of socializing or living in a house that saps all my energy. He worked so damn hard for this house and on this house ... and he'd be sad to see me remain here out of nostalgia. Because that dream has gone. This will never be the dream that was ... for he is not here to share it with me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Portugal

Having blagged our way on board our flight from London Gatwick to Faro with 12 over sized and overweight bags, we relaxed on the 3 hour journey, enjoying a vodka and tea, the best marzipan in the world, giggling about old shared memories ... and talking of grief and loss. Cliff ... and my old friend's grief over her father, best friend ... and more recently yet another extremely close friend.





The flight went quickly and we saw the Algarve coastline, beautiful and clear even in February.




After squeezing the luggage and ourselves into Maria's car ... she treated us to an hour of her raleigh driving (having 30 years experience of being a raleigh driver) along the sea road from Faro to Monchique. We stopped for dinner at the bottom of the private dirt road that leads up to Nicky's new home for dinner, meeting the locals, and I was relieved to find that my Spanish allowed me to pick up a few words of Portuguese, as well as comprehension of the menu. After topping up on food, nicotine and vodka, we walked up the dark road to look round the villa.





I loved Nicky's new home immediately, and started taking photos to share with old friends on Facebook, as well as capturing the property as it was, before she starts cleaning, decorating and updating it.




The views, even on a cloudy rainy February day were stunning. Mountains. The Atlantic.



But when I stepped into the lounge - a solitary room at the top of this house ... the magic of the place hit me. I could sense the elderly Canadian couple who once lived and loved there ... and felt like crying ... but with empathy. The lady of the house had lived there as a widow for 20 years, and kept loving her home, leaving behind her so many exquisite touches around the place ... and it felt good that my old school-friend would be taking over this home and loving it just as they did.



The chandelier comes from the Palais de Versailles apparently, and there was evidence left behind everywhere of a long life together - signed menu's from Monaco, a portrait of their beloved dachshunds, a paperweight from Harvard, decorated matchboxes - from halycon days spent entertaining on the amazing terrace that encircles the property. I could imagine my parents befriending these people. I could empathize with the lady living there for 20 years after losing her soulmate. And I could imagine my friend living there too, keeping some of the features, completing this life's work with taste, care and respect.

I could also imagine long weekends yet to come .... and of us enjoying this home, browsing through the books left on the shelves, enjoying the sun and views along with the food that this region produces - lemons, oranges, fresh fish, olives, salads ....


I so missed Cliff. I so mourned the loss of our future. The villa of our own in Spain that would never be. I missed his exuberance ... the excitement and pleasure he would have felt exploring this home. Little memories left .... the books, records, artwork and silverware left from a life now over. I missed that he could have renovated this place for Nicky.




My sadness evaporated upon returning outside into the sunshine, and my eyes drank in the beautiful gardens, the trees and the incredible views. A sense of space. We ran around like children imagining how Nicky could decorate and enhance the living spaces. A circular room. Retaining the beautiful hand-painted Portuguese ceramic tiles, along with the flooring, the simplicity of the silk curtains, the white-washed walls, the ironwork, the old cast iron lighting throughout. The nooks, crannies and secret hideaways.



After two relaxing days, spent talking, sharing and reminiscing ... as well as excitement over Nicky's move to Portugal, snoozing, music and laughter as well as some moments of poignant nostalgia, sadness too .... her three dogs joined us, and then even the rented villa - her temporary residence until contracts are signed - felt like home. I realized how tired I was - and am thankful to Nicky for letting me nap when exhaustion swept over me from time to time.




Home. And now time for me to return to my own dogs and home. I didn't want to leave for I knew that I would half expect Cliff to be waiting for me there.



And en route to the airport, I had to take a big gulp when I realized how near to Andalucia I was. How close I was to another life. Another time. A fifteen year old who knew not what life held in store for her. A wonderful magical man. Then losing him. How obliviously happy she was. Naive. Full of hope and joy.
And Maria may have sensed my thoughts. For she turned to me and said, "you two girls. You were so spoiled living in different countries, going to the school you attended. It left you trusting the world, when you cannot and should not."
Wise words indeed. For I have learned that there is nothing certain or guaranteed in this lifetime. In the hardest way imaginable.
But we boarding school children - we are resilient. We may trust when we should not. But I'll take that over being bitter and cynical any day. It was one of the qualities that he most loved about me. And I will not allow this grief to destroy that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

C'mon Boo ... get it together

Nicky


I don't know what's wrong with me.

I had to call work this morning and arrange to take today as annual leave.

I slept through till 17h30.

And now I can't sleep.

Not only that ... the house is a tip ... the dogs need grooming ... I still haven't packed ... or booked my "Meet & Greet" parking at the airport ... and my flight leaves in a few hours.

I don't know what's wrong with me ... because I'm looking forward to this break in Portugal with Nicky. I can't wait actually.
Nicky's managed to buy a villa, pack all her shit up, clean her apartment in Putney and has arranged for her 3 dogs to be flown out on Monday. Photos of pups are below ... there is no photo of Phoebe because she is a horrible tasmanian devil-dog ... and she bites you if you leave the house.

C'mon Boo ... get your shit together. Your flight leaves soonish.

FFS.


Monday, February 14, 2011

14th February 2011

Thank you Cliff.

For never buying me flowers on Valentine's Day.

Because they were a rip off.

And for buying me flowers when YOU felt like it.

It means I shan't miss them today.

And I shall miss you as much today as I did two years ago.

And as much as I shall in two years time.

Only you.

My heart and soul are yours.

My body though, useless and cold without you is starting to crave warmth.

And I know you feel no betrayal.

For there is none if you no longer reside in any corporeal form here on this planet.

You are free. Having a spiritual experience.

I am a spiritual being trapped in a human body ... having a human experience ... accompanied by the natural need for touch and intimacy. Warmth. Comfort. Release. Passion.

I feel no shame. I was widowed at 44. If you'd lived to be 108 - I'd have remained faithful to you till I was 100.

But our fate placed me here alone. Till you come for me.

And if anyone has an issue with that ... they can fuck off ... along with that stupid little fucking cherub who goes by the name of Cupid.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Black Cabs at Victoria Station



Last night I thought about taking the half hour train journey into London today.


At the same time as I did this time last week.


To see if he was there.


Just to give him my phone number and ask him to call me when I get back from Portugal.

It felt like a good idea. Exciting. Forbidden.


And today ... my courage has lifted. Somehow it feels as though he'd think I'm stalking him, if he's even there.


And if he wasn't there ... I'd feel deflated, desperate almost.


I'm not desperate ... I mean, I've had plenty of offers ... but I had a connection with him. The perfect stranger.


I'm not seeking romantic love. I don't want anything from him ... other than a couple of nights a month. I want to feel that chemistry ... feel alive ... undress each other with our eyes until we can ... rip each other's clothes off ... and just enjoy each other, give pleasure ... give and take.


Who knows? Perhaps serendipity will intervene. If not, perhaps I'll get the courage to hang round Victoria Station when I return from Portugal ... perhaps though, the magic of chemistry will have worn off by then. Who knows? Que sera sera.


I hope no one thinks I'm on the game if I do.


There again, my mother met my father for the first time, back in 1948 ... under the big clock at Victoria Station. So I can't be that crazy.




Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Serendipity

Alighting at London Victoria, I approached the black cab to ask the driver if he'd take me to Covent Garden, but he simply signalled that I should hop in the back, regardless.

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.
Eye contact.
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.
Serendipity indeed.
"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.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I have this feeling ...

*** WARNING - if you don't like swearing - please don't read this post ***
I was very angry when I wrote this and didn't edit it at all


Today, I kept getting this feeling that he was going to come home. I still have that feeling, even now.



I've never forgotten that he's dead. Not once. Not even when he appears alive in my dreams ... part of me still knows, on some level, that he is not really alive.



I know that some widow/ers have that split-second moment ... you know, when they think, "oooh I must tell him about ...", before flipping back to the cruel reality after a nanosecond.



Not me though. Never. It is like there is a constant tape recording ... stuck in a loop .... reminding me, "he's dead, he's dead, he's dead," ad infinitum, or should that be ad nauseum?



No, it wasn't that I forgot he was dead today. Nor did I indulge in some kind of pretence or fantasy. I felt him coming home. Maybe he is, it's just that I can't see him.



Which means he's worried about me. One of his oldest friends said to me last night, "he'd be going ballistic if he was here ... you know that, don't you? You need to put some weight on." Shirley looked at the floor, not wanting to look at my face, because if she had ... I'd have broken.

My voice broke, as I struggled not to cry when I admitted I knew he was right. Roy wrapped up the statement with, "yes, you do know ... enough said Boo." And we moved swiftly on to an amusing (to us at least) subject ... all I'll say is we were humming the tune to "Deliverance". And all three of us were laughing raucously.



But today, it feels like he's going to walk through the front door any second. Like before.



I do know he isn't physically. He can't. I mean, a third of his ashes have been sent shooting up into the sky, courtesy of a mo-fo firework of blue stars, taking him along for the ride.



But maybe he's coming ... the other half of my soul.



I hope I haven't worried him. It makes me feel like I've let him down. I would never hurt him or upset him intentionally. Never did. Why would I start now?



But it appears I have. Fuck. Going to let some tears out, pour a single vodka, diet coke and ice .... oh and, yes I CAN HEAR YOU. Eat something balanced and nutritious ... hoorah for Sainsbury's microwaveable meals for one. See, I DID listen to Roy. And I'm heeding the advice.



I know you're going to sit there and watch me eat it, so I can't give half of it to the dogs.



I know how you hated to see me cry. I remember so well how you hated it so ...



But I have to ... I'm sorry baba. I miss you too much. I want to come home. To you. We weren't meant to be apart. I feel like you've been hacked away from me by some psychotic fucked up butcher swinging a cleaver around, and that I'm bleeding everywhere ... all the time.



It's a shame that it wasn't a fucked up butcher because you'd have taken the cleaver off him and thrown it, embedding it deeply in the nearest wall or door (accompanied by me rolling my eyes -and it's not hard to imagine the scenario because I saw you take weapons off people a few times, with that "do you really want to play with me?" expression on your face, always followed by man running away as fast as possible. Any direction. Just away from you. And that body language that screamed NO FEAR. If you stick that in me, I'm going to get even more angry. I'll pull it out and scream like a stuffed pig, then throw it out of your reach. Have some.) I can see you heading for your samurai sword, or perhaps your Hilti staple gun. Or perhaps both. Bad luck Mr Butcher. Run. Karma is coming for you. He's going to really fuck you up now. The weapons are purely for inflicting fear. Unless you physically threaten me. Then all rules are off. Bad luck. Well right now you are in a relatively safe position, because I'm here watching. But I do know that some people only understand violence, so let's help you on your way. I'll use the fucking Hilti gun as he never actually does. The thought is enough of a deterrent for most people. Unless they ARE psychotic ... then, all rules are off. There, your coat won't fall off now. Not till you get those stainless steel things removed anyway.



But it wasn't a butcher. It was something else. Something that even he couldn't fight. A first in his adult life. Even he couldn't make it go away and never return to darken my la-la-land door again. Make me safe. This was unexpected ... it happened on your home territory and the fucker was cowardly. He snuck up behind you, like a little man with a knife or a sawn-off. I'd have died fighting for you.



But we couldn't fight what we couldn't see.



I tried so fucking hard that day. I tried. I willed the damage the stroke inflicted on you. I willed it. I tried and tried to absorb the damage. Take it out of your head and into my arms. I told you I was going to try. I could feel my hands and the skin on the underside of my arms get so so so hot .... so so hot, that I thought it was going to work. But it didn't work. And when I gained lucidity, I quietly sat down and you gave my hand a double-squeeze. I miss that too. That you understood me like that. Let me try, even knowing I would fail, but knowing I had to try.



It hurts in my body, my heart, my soul and in my frazzled tired mind. I just want a taste of you - I'm not even asking for a minute. I'd start again .... right back at day one of this fucking awful pain and re-live it again and again and again .... just for a taste of you. I'd exchange the rest of my life ... just for a taste of you. You know how patience is not only not one of my strong points, it simply doesn't exist in my vocabulary.



I need to sit quietly. Turn off the banging club music. Be still. And then I'll feel you when you come back to check on me.



It's still a taste. I'll take a taste, no matter how fleeting, how ethereal, how unseen. It's still a sense. It's the other one. The odd one out. The one that people get uncomfortable about if it's mentioned. Unless they live in a caravan of course. And stand on street corners, holding a sprig of lavender in their hand, all mangled and wilting, shoving it in your face in exchange for a couple of quid. Or is it heather? "Lucky heather, darlin?" What the fuck am I talking about?



I'm so relieved I have that in me. As you did. We are only physically separated. Our souls are still safely entwined, just as the palm trees are, in that beautiful place where we exchanged our vows. Maybe it's not "till death do us part" for us. Not us. An unbreakable bond. A tenuous yet very real link. Souls touching.



Love is stronger than death.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQcBYboY8G4

I fucking hate you, death. When you come for me I'm going to take you with me.



Fucking coward. You'd have never come towards him, unarmed. I only saw one person do that ever. And he stopped because I was there. Neither of them could stand me crying. Seriously. See, men have rules and codes. Well, the men I know and count as real friends do.



You don't. You have jack-shit. Only misery. You're a fucking coward and an arsehole and I'm going to have you. I am his wife. Just think about that. I might act like a baby, but when I go cold ... I don't care. You don't scare me you little shit. You stupid little drunk Glaswegian pathetic excuse of a man, you actually think you're big. You are not. You're fuck all in reality. All you are is delusional. Go on, have another cheap scotch and a rolled up cigarette. Come towards me speaking shit and when you get close, I recoil from your foul breath and am repulsed by the spit that lands on me because you're such a socially inept being ... you can't even speak properly. Come closer, I can't understand what you're saying. But what you're too fucking stupid to see is that I'm not listening to you. I'm not here to fucking talk. Your level of intellect just doesn't do it for me you stupid little man. I'm just waiting for you to get close enough ...



... then I'm taking you down. I'm taking you with me. And I'm like my husband, I can wait a long long long long time. Can you, you little prick? With a two inch dick. Fuck you. You strut about thinking you look hard. But you don't understand, you thick piece of shit .... that I have no fear now that he's gone. No fear. My biggest fear has happened. I've lost my fear of flying. You mistake me for someone who gives a fuck. Or you look at me smiling and misinterpret it as submission. Hell, I'll even lead you into the bedroom and take you down with me, you fucking stupid freak ... you just cut down lives at random. No rhyme, no reason. Because you have no morals ... you don't notice anybody else's. Babies, dogs, children - what sort of sick fuck are you? Hello? You suck the life out of good loving and loved people. And leave sub-human pond-life walking around ... the type of people who hurt kids or animals, just because they can. A little like you. Like goes to like. Maybe that's why you spare the pond-life in this DNA pool.



Fuck I'm angry.



But that feels a lot lot better .... now to eat and be still, so I can feel him ... if I'm angry I never ever feel him.



Karma. If it doesn't come along quickly enough for Ms Patience 2011, I'll make it happen.