I am participating in the 2016 A-to-Z Blog Challenge. My theme is the music of my life.
Between 1995 and 1997 I lived in London off and on, returning home only to earn enough money to go back again. The first time I was there, I worked for several temp agencies, only doing a job for a few weeks or months at a time before moving to another and living in a room smaller than most people’s closets. But I still thought I was living the dream. The room (called a bedsit—that’s really all you can do there…sleep and sit) was in a Victorian located in Nottinghill Gate, very central and close to everything. Even though I had to light the stove and the radiator-type-thingy with a match, feed pound coins into the meter, pay 50-pence coins to get hot water in the bathroom (I had to share with everyone else on my floor), and monitor the dot on the wall that measured the carbon monoxide in the room (I was told that if it turned black I should open a window), I was in my own form of paradise.
Even so, my quest for Nicholas Dunraven had gone somewhat off course. Where were all the English, Scottish, Irish, or Welsh men? In an international city like London, I was meeting a lot of people, but hardly any of them were from the UK. Other than my Irish friend, Rebecca, who took me in and helped me through many a homesick night, most of my friends were German, South African, or Australian.
I was nearing the end of my first stint there in the spring of 1996, when I began working at a non-profit company in the Holborn area. There, I met an Australian friend who introduced me to a man who would shake my world for the next few years. Maree and I got along really well at work, and I appreciated her straight-shooting style, as I found myself struggling with the way some of the English gave instructions. At the end of all of the “if you care to, if you can be bothered, you might, perhaps…” I would turn to Maree and ask, “So are they asking me to do this?” And Maree would interpret for me. “Yes, that’s what she’s saying.”
Maree and her partner lived over a pub in Holborn that her partner worked in and managed. One Sunday when the pub was closed, they invited some of the regular pub-goers to watch a rugby match, and that was the day I met John. John was thirty-seven, a Greek Australian from Melbourne, and what the romance novels would term ruggedly handsome—a man’s man type.
We left the pub that night and went out dancing, and then around two in the morning, he walked me back to my place in Nottinghill Gate. Standing in front of my house, we kissed...and Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” song came to mind.
“Do you have a phone in there?” he asked me. This was before the age of cell phones, of course.
“There’s a house phone.”
Neither of us carried anything writing utensils, so I told him the number and he promised to remember. He didn't of course, and for the next three weeks I hounded Maree and made her promise to call me when he next came in the pub. Meanwhile, I was stalking all of the spots we had gone that night.
As a naïve twenty-three-year-old, I had very little experience with men, and none at all with thirty-seven-year-old Aussie men. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but with my romantic senses firing on overdrive, I plunged headlong into the heartbreak that was to come.
This night marked the beginning of the most tumultuous ten years of my life.