(Written for my darling and Scribbit's Write-Away Contest for February)
My first thought this morning was "Oh my goodness!!! 5.14am - a sleep in!!!"
My second thought this morning was "No more sleeps!!!"
Because Friday is special. Friday is fish, calamari, chips and salad night. Friday is the start of the holiday. Friday is no more sleeps until my darling gets here.
It hasn't always been that way.
I mean, since my daughter has been old enough to voice opinion, Friday has been generally reserved for F&C.
Since my daughter has been attending school, Friday has been the beginning of the holidays.
And since July 15 last year, Friday has generally been "no more sleeps".
This time last year, I was happy with my life. I had a wonderful daughter. I lived in a marvellous house. I had delightful flatmates. My study was nearly completed. My freelance work was steady.
I had no care about being my child's only parent. I have had a very chequered relationship history, and I find it is better to be happy and single than to be partnered and stressed. Of course, it is lovely to be partnered and happy - but I was not quite willing to spin that particular roulette wheel.
It is not that I had entered a cloister since my daughter's father and I separated. There were a lot of issues at hand, ones that maybe I will tell another day - but the bottom line is it was not a horrid, wrenching, awkward or debilitating break-up. He died about a year later - that was pretty horrid, wrenching, awkward and debilitating , but again, another story another day.
I am your average 30 something woman who packed a heap into her 20s before doing the whole creative choice and baby route, so was (a) sensible enough to know that my child was my primary concern, (b) qualified enough to know that maybe there could be someone nearly right for me in the world but more likely to find anyone but, and (c) experienced enough to know that there are assets to even a bad boy - but, as I said to some girlfriends the other day, there are other avenues available if you don't want the problem with the attachment - if you know what I mean.
So anyway - no cloister. The fact that I never went anywhere likely to house eligible sane members of the opposite sex may have offered me a similar level of protection, however.
Several months later, I was still fairly happy with my life. My daughter was still wonderful. I was about to move from my marvellous house to Paradise, but my delightful flatmates were taking on the lease. My freelance work was going to the dogs due to client politics, which directly affected my study completion problems.
Yesterday, I mentioned that messageboards had helped me a lot in coming to terms with a lot of things in my life, and they were also a factor in changing my social life.
One member of one of my boards was feeling a little ummmmm - spritely and tried out an online dating service. Now, I would like to pretend I was naive to the ways of online dating services, but the truth is I had been on such a thing. I had exchanged emails with several slightly interested punters, I had spoken on the phone to a few and I had been on two face to face meetings - both, while not disastrous, did not exactly light up my life and coerce me into contemplating another shot at the "R" realm.
Anyhow, Clanc started a discussion about her efforts which led several members (yours truly included) to reactivate old accounts and do a spot of fishing ourselves - purely for research purposes.
Due to all the imminent changes in my life at the time, I thought I would try a new fishing hole - and set my geographic limits to within 500km of Paradise. A large cast net, I know. But in the interest of our investigation I thought it best to cast wide.
And as I REALLY wasn't that keen a fisherwoman, rather than entice with baits about what I thought might be tempting, I threaded my hook with absolute honesty. I workshopped it with my flatmate and wrote the things I was and the things I wanted.
Soon after I had dropped the line (my lure was "I was wondering, what is your creative outlet?"), I got multiple responses.
Two were easily eliminated - I mean, where in my profile did it say I would even contemplate watching motor sport as an activity? (Under sport, I had written: "I am a good one. Best at barracking and fantasty...")
One unfortunately was eliminated because he reminded me of Robin Williams - in Mrs Doubtfire (I am superficial occasionally).
One was eliminated because no matter how much spring in your step you have at 78, I am just not that into crossing the generational divide.
And several were eliminated by timing - because an early responses was very intriging indeed...
You see, he mentioned honesty and integrity, his love of reading, loving world music, his cat, poetry, compassion, lasagne - most of the page made me go "wow" - not in a girlie "I have found my man" sort of tone, more a "does this guy really exist or has my imagination created him" tone.
And he sent me his password to his photo - and again I went "wow" - not because of his rugged good looks, his smile, his shoulders and his eyes (well, not just because) - but also because he was NORMAL - he had that "this is me and I am not putting on a show for anyone" look about him - and for me, that is sort of important because I am that sort of woman.
Creating a long-distance friendship in the modern era is splendidly easy - no more writing letters and waiting for the steamer, no sirree - we could react, think and feel immediately the other person instigated the reaction.
And not long after I fished, I moved and was out of all communication range. Except for very erratic (and expensive) mobile communication our constant and immediate lifeline to one another was stymied. We dreamed of the moments where he would find a good signal, where we had free moments or cheap rates or when I could get online at a cafe.
Now, I am a bit of a hoarder so if you ever want to trawl through the archives of my computer, you will find all of our IMs, emails and even text messages.
This was good, as by then I had 23 pages of printed communications. I needed something to tether me to this earth and not enter dreamland - because I, the greatest non-believer in internet relationships, the girl who was very happy being on her own and self-sufficient, the woman who had the cares of her daughter and herself to put before all other matters - well, you see, I had fallen in love.
And it wasn't of the unrequited variety. I received poems. I received silken words. I received daily communication that said that wherever I was, that was where his thoughts centred.
He told me he was a diver - an all or nothing prospect. I had told him I did not necessarily believe in love forever, but you might as well shoot for the moon. He told me his faults - all the better for me, I said, I do not desire perfection. I told him of the importance of my daughter and he said that was the only way he would wish it to be.
We wanted to see each other immediately but did not. I had just moved, I had to settle in, I had to take care of my daughter and I. We agreed upon a strategy - a timeframe, a babysitter and a first date was set for a month hence.
Well, obviously the first date went very well, because he was keen on making the 350km (each way) drive again - as soon as possible, the next weekend.
And he was still keen after my daughter asked him to marry me because she wanted a sister - fairly soon. (That was week 1)
And he was still keen after my daughter decided she didn't like him because he didn't provide the sister straight away AND he had messy hair. (That was week 2)
And he was still keen after my daughter decided she sort of liked him and showed it by very physical combat while playing. (That was about week 10)
He was even keen after meeting my family en masse, my friends in small groups and my ex-family-out-law!!!
Hey - I am not starry eyed about this guy, nor him about me. We have had our differences, we have even had quite heated discussions and a dummy spit or two. We are real.
We are real enough to know that we have to work on all the mundane matters, all the family spotfires, all the petty gripes. We are real - we have both been where it was tried and did not work for whatever reasons.
But he is also real - and not a figment of my imagination (my biggest fear in the beginning).
Yes, I have been in love before. I thought I had loved other men unworthy of such prior to my daughter. I loved my daughter's father.
But my love for V is larger, realler, more immediate and more forever.
Because he is not flawless, because I have lived my life and know that I do not desire perfection.
Because we are suited on so many levels, because we both read and contemplate and because we both have our beliefs.
Because he wants to be someone my daughter could trust and respect.
Because we desire each other and fulfil each other and can trust and respect and love each other.
And because we both know the most important factors are honesty and integrity.
He is real - and he will be here any minute now...