Saturday was a very emotional day. Not in an unhappy way. Conversely it was a lovely day, full of surprises. Full of the past.
And it got me thinking about love…
As a romance writer I often find myself focussing on hero and heroine and the exploration of their growing love for one another; the intrigue, the passion the desire. But not all love is like that. On my journey to hopefully one day become an I-get-paid-for-this published writer, I’ve learnt that my writing style incorporates quite a bit of emotion and explores different types of relationships. But occasionally, instead of exploring and thinking about the dynamics of love and the psychology of relationships, it’s good to experience emotion first hand. And it’s an experience I will draw upon with my writing in future…
So there I was walking along in my own little world, going from office to car, off to a viewing at a rural property in the back of beyond and wondering if there was time to swing by home and grab my wellies…
Very few people call me ‘Lis’ these days. It’s reserved for those I truly hold dear to me; my mother hates anyone referring to me by the abbreviated version of my name as she purposefully chose a name which couldn’t be shortened. I looked up to see the boy I once knew, who I haven’t seen for a good decade, looking back at me through stubbled-chin but still with the same sparkly eyes and my stomach literally lurched, the way I make my heroine’s do in my novels. Tom Duckett. Tom was probably one of the few boys at school I didn’t have a crush on. We were good have-a-laugh-get-each-other-in-to-trouble-fall-out-and-quickly-make-up-friends and he always had time for a chat over the seven years we spent at school together. He had an obsession with my boobs (I was well endowed from an early age) and it was a joke which went from the innocence of 11 to the knowingness of 18 without ever being awkward. And he’s stood there smiling at me and I desperately want to ask how he is, what’s he’s up to but suddenly I was transformed back to being the overweight (I’m about 5 stone lighter these days) 16 year old I once was and there’s this other guy from sixth form staring at me, plus these two glamorous brunettes and all I can manage is:
“It’s good to see you Tom.”
“You too,” he says with a grin which would melt a dozen hearts before I turn away and carry onto my car, tears welling in my eyes, literally kicking myself for returning to the self-conscious former-self I used to be.
And all afternoon I kept asking myself why I felt so cross, why I was so upset about not talking to a guy I haven’t seen for over a decade…
By five o’clock I’d kind of forgotten about my awkward encounter earlier in the afternoon and was looking forward to popping into my mum’s to see her best friend who was visiting from Devon. There was an outside chance that one of her son’s would be there with his partner and children, again someone I probably haven’t seen for fifteen years and yet spent so much time growing-up with. It’s probably worth pointing out at this point that I’m an only child. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a lonely existence growing up; I had a happy childhood full of horse-riding, blackberry picking and escaping with my cousins on holidays (I am sure it wasn’t quite all so rose-tinted, but you only remember the good bits, don’t you?). But I was quite lucky that my mum’s best friend lived in our village with her three boys, Anthony, Steven and David. There’s a line in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves where Marian says to Robin, “All I remember of you was used to steal my toys and pull my hair.” Well that was Anthony and me. He would cheat at Monopoly and tease me that our Headmaster had a pump in his office for beating children and I would get angry and upset with him. But I always cared about him because he was the closest thing I ever had to a big brother. Steven is a little bit younger than me and we would play endless games of Star Wars and watch Super Ted curled up on the sofa. And David, being five years younger than me, I just loved to mother. They were my surrogate brothers; we would fight and make it up and when they moved to Devon it all came to an abrupt halt.
So you can just imagine my shock as I walk through the door to be greeted with a big hug from Anthony, only to look through the door to the kitchen to see Steven waving back and coming at me with a big bear-hug too, closely followed by David. Overwhelmed only just begins to describe it. More men I haven’t seen for over a decade, whose lives’ I’ve kept-up with via snippets from my mum. And the most touching moment was when Steven asked how my writing was going, because it means that they’re keeping-up with what I’m up to too.
Both experiences have made me stop and think about why I care so much about people I don’t see on a regular basis, can’t easily get in touch with (I don’t have a mobile number for any of them) and possibly won’t see again for a long time now. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bond. It’s something that grows without you knowing, something you hold onto deep inside but you might not realise it on the surface.
To me, that’s my definition of love.
PS. Thank you to my lovely mum for providing a photo at such short notice!
PPS. Thomas Duckett if you happen upon this blog, leave a comment & I’ll be in touch! xx