I’m out of breath from crying, the tears and my heart running as fast as the whipping sea that crashes below the rafters that keep me from drowning. Why did I think this would be a good idea all those years ago, what made me think if I could just see them, see the life they were living that it would be enough. Or maybe I thought one day that they would change their mind. That I would get my happy ending.
The pier. Where it all began, long before I left my life, everything I knew in the city I had been born in. Long before I fell in love. Long before now. The pier. Where it all began. A mid-life crisis provoking a long weekend away alone, a holiday for myself, a chance to recoup. And it started like that, waking to the sounds and smells of the sea, eating ice cream on the pier as the jingling music, and crashes of coins seeped out into the sea air from the arcade. But then I saw them. Or maybe I felt them, sensed them first. A brightness so honest that it felt like you could float on it. All they did was sit down next to me where I was perched on a bench, scarf pulled tightly around my neck against the sea wind, book in one hand, takeaway coffee cup in other. All they did was sit there, turn to me and ask me how I was. But they really asked me, in a way that you couldn’t ignore, brush off, lie to. And so I emptied myself, in the way you only can with a stranger maybe, and before I knew it I was telling them things I didn’t even know I remembered, from a childhood long lost in the cobwebs of my teens, 20’s, 30’s 40’s etc. Not all bad – stories of my first trip alone to the sweet shop, parent standing on the pavement outside our house, face broken into an encouraging smile, but, I know now, A heart beating with the fear of a child growing up. My feet lost on the huge pavement, looking both ways before the soles of my feet sought out tarmac and then pavement again before the safety of the zebra crossing on the final road. £2 of sugary goodness. But sad times too, the stories of baby hands clutched together crying under tables, that then felt so big and now, wouldn’t fit my frame even if my knees allowed me. But mostly stories of these lonely times, of longing to smell the skin of another, to know them so well that you could recognise their particular sweetness in a line up, of longing for the familiar comfort of knowing who will wash up and who will dry, the comfort of discussing dinner while you pee. And somehow in those moments of conversation they met me like no other, somehow healed me with a handful of words, allowed me to feel seen for the first time in years, or maybe ever. And I fell in love. So sure I was of the love I knew they must feel it too. But before I even knew what was happening they were gone, slipping away into the mist, having said they had lost track of time. And there I was so wrapped up in me and this new feeling that I let them slip away.
I came back a few times, in the hope to meet again, that maybe I would see them appear from the mist, in the same way they had disappeared. And each time I was here it reignited the memory that they gave me.
So I moved here, and that was when I saw them. Living a life with another.
I’ve watched them ever since.