[Note to readers (especially new ones): This love story begins way back earlier in this blog and consists of anecdotal fragments. Initially I wrote them, one by one, into this blog, then I created a separate blog just for the love story. Now I have decided to copy/paste them back into this blog. I have numbered them so as not to confuse myself - ha! My husband is now in a nursing lodge which makes this love story a bit of a poignant adventure back in time for me. Thank you for reading.]
Love story 39 – The gap that was Inna
After Inna’s death, Anthony and I lost the connection with each other that was Inna.
These few years, when I lived and worked in Perth, as a trainee nurse, were agonizing because I missed him so much. If I were in the middle of the city and a truck with cattle drove past, the smell of cowpoop would plunge me into such nostalgia for the farm that I would want to chase the truck and leap on but of course I didn’t.
Anthony and I exchanged phonecalls regularly because our friendship was solid, but, for me, its platonicness seemed like a gladwrap covering of what was really there and I wanted to tear it off. But he wouldn’t budge. I was too young. He was too old.
Whenever I visited my mother, who lived in the next town to the farm, I would visit Anthony and, across the road, his brother, sister-in-law and the beautiful blonde children who were were growing up fast. I loved these visits.
Sometimes Anthony would be warm and inviting and other times he would be cold and busy. I didn’t know where I stood until one day, when I was 23, I let the ‘I love you’ slip out of my mouth accidentally and he looked at me, walked me to the back door and told me to go home to my mother’s place. His expression was impossible to read and, distraught, instead of going to my mother’s place, I drove all the way back to Perth in my old Holden Kingswood, crying like a baby.
Not long after that we began an awkward, and rather volatile, romantic relationship, keeping it very secret, knowing that everyone we knew would disapprove.
Except Inna. But Inna was gone.
Love story 40 – Too late?
For me to have known, without the slightest doubt, that Anthony and I would one day be husband and wife, and that we would have a little boy, was a certainty that alternatively tortured, and elated, me from the age of 17 to 32, when he uttered the words, “I love you.”
When he finally said those words on the phone, and he said them over and over, more times than I had ever said them, and he was weeping and asking me to marry him, I laughed, thinking it was a joke, then told him I had to go out, said goodbye, and hung up, bemused.
The phone rang again and again but I didn’t pick it up. But then there was a knock on the door. I ignored that too. I felt very cold and strange and bewildered.
Eventually I opened the door to my flat and there were a dozen red roses, with a note that had obviously been dictated by Anthony to the florist.
I put the roses into the sink in my little kitchenette, then walked down to the local pub to join my buddies, Neville and Robbo, because it was Guinness night.
Anthony could go to hell.
Love story 41 – The in-between years
During the years between unrequited and requited love, I had done the following:
- worked as a nanny in London;
- travelled Europe with two blonde bimbos who I didn’t really know;
- worked up north on a sheep station, cooking for 50 men;
- worked for the disgraced entrepeneur, Alan Bond’s mother as a live-in maid (before he was disgraced);
- worked at a rehabilitation centre for people with quadriplegia;
- worked in a hostel for people with multiple disabilities;
- worked in three different nursing homes;
- helped manage a respite centre as a live-in carer;
- completed a double degree in English and Aboriginal/Intercultural studies;
- lived in six different houses or flats;
- worked as a waitress in a pancake place;
- completed a graduate diploma and honours in Creative Writing;
- had three dodgy boyfriends;
- spent a week in a psychiatric hospital as a patient;
- had six short stories published;
- maintained an on/off again romantic relationship with Anthony; and
- begun a PhD that focussed on Alzheimer’s disease and storytelling.
During this period of time, Anthony (Husband-to-be) had milked about a billion cows.
So, during one of our arguments, when he suggested that I “get in the real world, Jules,” I was speechless.
Love story 42 – The Sydney man
The day after Husband-to-be/Anthony said those taboo words, “I love you”, on the phone to me, I was due to fly to Sydney to meet another man. I had already met this man a few times in Perth when he was doing contract work here and I was rather attracted to the fact that he was so attracted to me. He had already paid for my plane ticket, and a hotel room (even though I said I would not partake in any shenanigans), and a concert and everything, so I didn’t feel I could let him down.
Before Anthony’s phonecall, I had been looking forward to this trip. I had thought this new man might somehow obliterate Anthony from my heart.
But after Anthony’s phonecall, especially when he repeated his strange, unfamiliar words on the phone the next morning, I didn’t want to go to Sydney at all. I had told Anthony, during the previous night’s surreal conversation, that I was driving up north to see some friends on the weekend, but somehow, by the next morning, he had discovered I was going to Sydney and the name of the man paying for my ticket. To have not only intuited that I was lying (which was unlike me), and to have discovered I was going to Sydney indicated that he must have spent several hours ringing various travel agencies and finally convincing someone to tell him what was confidential information. Anthony and I both admitted our different crimes in the same breath on the phone (you have to remember we were 200 kms apart), but I said I had to go because I had promised the man.
This conversation was agonizing in so many ways but I eventually had to terminate it or I would have missed my flight. So I hurriedly got my bag packed and my wonderful friend, Andrew, took me to the airport (he knew the whole complicated situation).
Once in the plane (it was the midnight horror flight), I sat for awhile, stunned. Then – because the Sydney man was interested in my writing – I tore the big yellow envelope off my short stories and began to write every single word Anthony had said to me. I knew that if I didn’t write it down straight away, I would never believe he could have said it. I wrote for an hour and then fell asleep.
I awoke to the plane landing and, with a sense of dread, I disembarked and went to meet my host.