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Closing time, walk across the park, nothing decided but both our homes are this way. Iím ahead of her as we walk into the park, dark and empty. She puts her arms around me, I grab her slender hands and greedily rub them into my chest. I felt those arms, abandoned to passion, no longer complex and feminine but primeval like mine. We stagger to a park bench and begin kissing, quickly it veers towards passion, violence, not even sensuous let alone respectful, wondering about the space between us, the consequences. Up to now all the losses could be contained.
As we walked from the park, we climbed down from passion. I gave the most beautiful expression of love Iíll ever give to anyone. I described a physical feeling, a piece in my chest, like a piece of wood, which feels like you, the love and goodness of you thatís become part of me. If the love continued to grow the piece would dissolve and become the whole of me, I wouldnít know where I end and you begin. But it ends here tonight and Iíll cherish this piece, respect, look after it - this loving trust will last forever.
Sunny steamy Stockwood, the hottest days of the summer, weíre all bored. One day we spot a pathway leading through some trees to somewhere else, might be a good spot for lunch. Only when we walk through do I realise weíre walking past the spot in the grass where that Saturday before last became That Saturday, the kiss in the grass, starting point for the greatest day. Thought Iíd be ok but I found myself in bitter reverie all afternoon. I apologised later, sincerely, but I think it was opening the next chapter in the book of the game.
I heard on Womanís Hour the other day that the average couple spend 35 minutes a week in conversation. We had hours and hours, a lifetimeís worth of conversation in those few months. We talked for hours every day, just passing the time as we walked the streets of Bristol doing a job that didnít particularly engage us. The conversation evolved as weíd got to know each other but didnít change much as we tried to do normal and suppress the urge to shout ĎI love youí. We just talked about stuff, stuff weíd notice, stuff about each other.
I had a job to go to in Manchester, it solved the problem of how to end all this. One Friday evening we stopped by the river at Sea Mills to watch the balloons. I said something clumsy, a question, canít remember it exactly, only that it was about a time when I wouldnít be around. She answered gracefully, like she always does, but I sensed the hurt. We drove quietly back to Bristol to find more balloons, she knew about the sadness that was to come. I hadnít worked that out, I was still the optimistic chancer.
Without ever making arrangements, weíd slipped into spending most of our time together. Even when we arranged to spend time with other people weíd end up with each other. The night of See No Evil, we managed to lose people in the chaos of Nelson Street, but we didnít lose each other. I didnít dare to leave her side that night, it was the first time Iíd been left breathless by her beauty Ė this was a woman after all. I have the photo here, I wish I could show it to you. Since then, Iíve spent hours looking at it.
We decided to come back to Dundry for sunrise one morning. We found a vantage point at fieldís edge and we treated to Godís splendour, colours shafting and rising in all shades. We embraced, magical, physically awkward. Iíll never forget her eyes at that moment, I knew she loved me. But in those eyes I didnít need telling with words. They had everything, the satisfaction of being there with me, the longing to be there forever more. I donít know what my eyes said, the same I hope, but I canít believe I have eyes as expressive as those.
What happens next? Ask any teenage boy or girl whoís spent a holiday afternoon kissing on the sofa, have to do the next thing, then the thing after that. So we watched a movie, Once, whose music had filled this tumultuous summer. We kissed as we watched, then she sat on my lap facing me and we werenít watching the movie any more. We were back at that point on the bench in the park where passion ruled and rules donít matter. Except this time we were at home behind closed doors, so not even the rules of public decency applied.
We met on the Mound the following afternoon, both sorry for what had happened. There was nothing else to say, no new rules to write, implicit in the sorry was an understanding that it wouldnít happen again. We remained intimate and affectionate, but passion, that powder keg, was now defused. Itís the exciting, dangerous part of a relationship, but for us there wasnít going to be a relationship. I was leaving, we had two days. After that we promised each other friendship, as if stepping down from these heights was going to be simple, but what else was there to say?
The plan was to say our goodbyes up here but the St Werburghís community fair was happening on that Sunday and the face paint and the drumming and the food and the buzz was a less melancholy alternative. The van was packed and I was ready to drive north. I can remember sitting and watching the drummers and little else, save a grand effort to hold it all in before I got in the van and began the semi-automatic process of navigating the motorways that ran from the heart of this city to the one I was going back to.
I agree you were right to say we're doomed, there isn't a chance I'll get to be in your arms soon. I'm back on the road now, nothing we can do, I have to find a way to make the days go. We spent our time asking who fits best, Iím wondering how its me who ended up like this. I'm the one who said itís easy, now I'm the one whoís feeling worse. I agreed that I would never be put first. I know your heart is beating slow. And out of time with mine. So now I'll say goodbye
If was taking you out and about in Manchester I'd start in the garden of the Bluebell in Levenshume. Then to Fallowfield and Saajan's via the bike path for a great shish kebab in a copious naan. Then back to the cycle path for a beer in The Bar in Chorlton, ale and an outdoor terrace to sit and check out Chorlton life. Its great having a cycle path joining all these places up, so we could ride together and chat along the way, and say hello to other cyclists and dog walkers, and keep an eye out for blackberries.
I had a lovely start to my day, the bike pannier was in the back of the van and needed organising for the bike ride that would follow dropping off the van. And in there was your heron picture, not a surprise, and your card, which I'd forgotten about. I've told you quite a bit about why you're so special to me, I feel how special I am to you but I've never really asked so that you tell me in words. So it was really nice to have a bit of a list, add to it whenever you wish.
I'm at my parents, the home of organic, Fairtrade, and the gluten-free. My Dad is a little OCD, and I am not permitted to do any washing up in case I break anything, and all the hot water has to be heated by the solar panels... is this what I am going to turn into?? Quite possibly! I think every day I get slightly more obsessed with living the ethical lifestyle... The house is really nice to be in though, so light, and tidy! Until I've been here a day or so, that is. My dad is repellent of "stuffĒ.
Thinking about what it means to completely obey God. In some ways I suppose it is daunting, the idea of doing things God's way especially when you can't make sense of it, when it's difficult to trust that it IS the right thing, or when something else is more appealing. In other ways, it shouldn't be daunting because God knows exactly what we need, how to satisfy our deepest desires. The Lord in Faithful to all his promises and loving towards all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
God wants us to completely obey him, but most of all he wants us to love Him and enjoy the relationship with Him, to realise that we are dependent on Him, and to recognise His love, and begin a real relationship with Him, as real as my relationship with you. We are made in God's image, which means that the relationships we have on earth are an image (a distorted one, but still an image) of what a relationship with God looks like. Only when we start this relationship and begin to love God can we start to obey him.
We went to Chew Valley Lake. Stunning scenery, seriously. I think that's the countryside we saw with the mist coating the hills that morning on Dundry hill. It was one of those evenings where you can see an incredible number of stars, and we ended up having one of those sleepy chats where you are so aware of the universe and how amazing it is, and how small we are. We kept seeing strange things shooting across the sky. Jan said they were shooting stars, Simon said they were meteorites in the earth's atmosphere, and I said they were owls
I want to enjoy God, Heís a jealous God. It isn't possible to have two "gods" in your life. There's always going to be one thing that is most important to us. For months, I have adored and pretty much worshipped you, you have been my motivation for living, you have been my greatest desire, I've thought about you more than I have thought about anything else (except, perhaps, black plastic)... And that's wrong. It isn't wrong of me to love you, or to be in love with you... but it is wrong that Godís not first in my heart.
It was the happiest I had been in all my life. Iím sure Iím not the only person in the world who recalls something like it. But it wasnít the good times that left that lasting impression. I continue to revisit all those great memories, but it wasnít the laughs and smiles that changed me most. Itís the painful memories that changed me. They say itís better to teach with a carrot than a stick. Yet, though you may not be able to teach someone with pain or punishment, when you manage to inflict pain on yourself, you learn quickly.
Sorry to hear youíre having a tough week. Usually when lovers split thereís some anger or sense of injustice to fall into like a big comfort blanket. Here we are doing what we know God wants us to do, which is our livesí ambition, so its doubly perplexing when we feel worse not better. It will make sense at some point. I pray for your strength and happiness. In the safe version of our story the denouement would have taken place by the river at Beeseís. We confirmed our friendship, our friendship grew. Some of that story really did happen.
Brentry was almost the end of the journey. Itís a suburb few people will go to unless they live there. For me itís the road out of Brentry that holds the strongest memory, van slogging up Knole hill to the mini-roundabout, the journey when we always contrived to have Whatís In It For by Avi Buffalo, the going home song, on the CD player, words without meaning, lips like pieces of bacon. Resting through a mighty rain shower shaped together in a do-nothing embrace. Yes, that time I asked! The photo on the Jubilee seat, we both looked like kids.
Iím grumpy enough to fight a car today. As I plant my foot on the road the green man appears up ahead and the crossing beeps start. My wish, should I ever be granted superpowers, is to be able to control the green man on pedestrian crossings. God has been listening and his answer to my grumpy prayers was to create a magically hilarious second like that, what a sight I must have been to all those car drivers, in the middle of the road with my broken bike, laughing like a madman with my hand up to the heavens.
Still doing grumpy I tramped the streets, knocked on a door and woman with a quirky elegant coiffure came to the door, full of sadness and ready for an argument. Good, Iím always ready. No she doesnít bother with bins, not enough space, and why should she do their bidding. Theyíre impossible. Something switched and I stopped arguing and started listening. This woman with her anger and passion rising, her Alzheimerís husband and the daily intensive care with nothing in return, least of all the love that used to pass between them when he had a mind to love with.
Coming to terms with your disappearance from my life took a while, but now Iím able to understand your magic, bringing me to God in a way that guaranteed I would come to him with an open heart. Now youíve left me to contemplate my relationship with God with no goddesses to cloud the picture. You can restore your relationship with God. I remember you in Woodlands one Sunday night with your head in your hands in a state of prayer and despair Ė what a trial. Today is the first day Iíve understood something of he pain of your disobedience.
Paul found me at the back of the church. I choked as I described the gaps, the loneliness, the godless weeks. He said come to my house later. I walked toward his house, changed my mind and veered down the hill to St Werburghís, a busy road where I hoped that van might come passing, by some amazing coincidence Ė because it sure wouldnít be a miracle. Oh the bleakness of that aimless wander. Walking away from healing for a chance to be truly destructive. To bump into her, unplanned, ruin chances of friendship, ruin any welcome in this city again.
Wherever you are I hope youíre happy, I hope the stars are kissing your cheeks tonight, I hope thereís a kite in your hand thatís flying all the way up to Orion and you still got a thousand yards of string to let out. I hope youíre smiling like God is pulling the corners of your mouth. I might be naked and lonely, but Iím time zones away from who I was the day before we met. You were the first mile, where my heart broke a sweat and I wish you were here. But mostly I wish you well.
I know I need to let past love go, for both our sakes. Maybe the only way is to find another love. The lost love will likely never leave my mind. I donít even consider it lost, yet. Memories will carry on coming up to the surface, thatís not a bad thing. The relationship made me the better version of myself I am today. I loved, I laughed, I cried, I changed my life. I changed your life. I donít want to ever forget the past that taught me all this. But I do need to know that itís past.
I donít know what was supposed to happen next. It didnít. Marcus told me about the pain I was in and of chapters closing. He asked if Iíd encountered the Holy Spirit. I said I didnít really know what that was Ė thereís a paragraph on the church membership form about it but Iíd not discussed it with anyone. Gary told the story of a drug-fuelled night when the Holy Spirit first entered him, the fire inside. We then prayed for the Holy Spirit to enter me and there was palpable disappointment when that didnít happen, perhaps it was my fault.
I sat there today, on the orgasm bench. A chilly autumn day, with the sun peeking through leaden cloud, not a dark fetid July night when magic washed over us. Part of me didnít want to remember anyway. Down to the harbour. Behind the Watershed I sat against the wall, right on the spot where the rickshaw broke down and we sat for two great hours, the greatest. The orgasm bench was a mistake, instantly regretted, but this was a magnificent oasis of peace and love in that crowded raucous space. A love that will never grow old.
One last moment of reverie, the following day when the sun is bright with long promises of summer. Iím off to Severn Beach for the bike ride north. The trainís delayed at Sea Mills, and delayed. Out of the window I see a delicious strip of grass in the shade of two trees. Another sweet spot to add to the others. Lying there one lunchtime, a yard apart, wondering whether to savour the moment or to roll a little closer. And, if so, how? Without thought Iím with my bike on the platform and the train is gone. Peace returns.
That Friday evening we stopped by the river at Sea Mills to watch the balloons taking off from Ashton Court. I said something clumsy, a question, canít remember exactly, only that it was about a time when I wouldnít be around. She answered gracefully, like she always did, but I sensed a hurt. We drove quietly back to Bristol to find more balloons. She knew about the sadness that was to come. I hadnít worked that out. I hope your sadness has gone now, your young life moves on. Mine is here for all my days, Iím happy with that.
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