Days 7 and 8: little

It’s the little things.

Grabbing my hand to cross a busy road and then moving me so I’m not on the side where the cars are.

It’s shouting me to come see a funny video he’s just watched.

It’s asking me if I’m tired/ok/good when we are out.

It’s checking I can swim – by making me demonstrate – before allowing me to properly swim alone in the sea.

It’s checking with the restaurant that the food won’t contain gluten.

It’s driving for hours just to show me all the beaches and beautiful places he knows I will love.

It’s sandwiching my hand close to his body when I grab his arm in a crowd.

It’s going to find a chair to sit with me outside when he was probably more comfortable on the bed.

*****

It’s late on Day 8 and I’m pretty tired.

I’ve had a wonderful couple of days. Yesterday we woke at 5.30am, ate, packed the car and set off on a road trip. Wildcard drove for hours and hours to show me some famous and stunningly beautiful cities in his country.

Today, we went to the beach and then he continued his tour, showing me a gorgeous marina and then taking us out for a dinner of fresh sardines and salad.

Tomorrow, I think we are moving on and he’s told me that we may go the long way back, taking in a few more places on the way home.

I’m so glad we have another week.

Trip 4: days 5-6, hands

Well, once again I am writing from an aeroplane seat, waiting for take off. I’ve struck lucky – only me on my row! It’s 7.40pm in the evening and I have a 3 hour flight before a hotel stay and early get-up for the train home.

I’m calm, I’m happy. That’s good isn’t it? Unfortunately, life has also taught me to be guarded and anxious, so let’s see how long this lasts.

I left off writing after a passionate post-argument making up session. Perhaps less said about that the better. Wow, will suffice.

Saturday morning, day 5, Wildcard came into my room and all was well. As it always is. I commented that his parents had got up early, and he replied that we would go out for the afternoon once he came home from work. I was surprised and happy and wracked with guilt about the argument the night before.

We had a wonderful day as we always do. He drove for hours and hours, taking me to much loved places. We took selfies with each other, photos with his parents and ate slices of sugar sweet apples as we travelled.

On the way back we went to his local city and walked through the market. He bought a jacket with some money his brother had sent him and I smiled as he tried it on, heart-warm from how handsome he looked and how much he wanted my opinion.

As we walked through the busy market, crammed with colour and noise, sellers and buyers, I clung on to his hand frightened of getting lost and heeding his warning.

He is never comfortable when I hold his hand and I have never understood why. I thought it must be his culture or perhaps he just doesn’t like it. He always holds my hand when he needs to keep me safe though. Later, tired after a long day and hugging each other as we waited for dinner, I again attempted to hold his hand and snuggled as close as I could get. He sleepily asked, ‘What are you doing?’ And I replied I was getting close to him. Turns out all the times I’ve said that and haven’t always got the response I wanted, was down to that he didn’t know what it meant. Equally, when he went to pull his hand away from me, I asked him why. His response surprised me and made me realise that we all have our hang-ups. He hates his hands, thinks they’re small and like a woman’s, and I recall a conversation long ago when he said that a girl had made an unpleasant comment to him about them. I told him he and his hands were perfect to me, which they are, and not feminine at all. They’re slender, yes, but definitely male. From that point on he did not pull away when I held his hand.

Bolstered by this honesty and acknowledging his sleepiness – a natural antidote to his tendency to greet meaningful conversations with humour and teasing – I went for it. Be proud of me WordPress. I told him that next time I come, I want to get engaged. He was shocked, surprised and jokingly pushed me away (antidote not working as planned). I tried not to get upset – he was joking after all and I figured an out-right no would have been said with more seriousness. We’d had a great day and I wasn’t going to spoil it by pushing further. We were called to dinner, ate, and I happily, and uneventfully, said goodnight without a murmur of sulking. I had learnt my lesson.

I woke early the next morning, having dreamt unpleasant dreams of my old school, forgetting and failing and then a fire that spread through my town as I raced through in a car I owned 18 years ago.

I messaged him and soon he was there.

I don’t pretend to be particularly experienced in the bedroom. I have had a conservative amount of partners but more than the four serious/semi serious relationships I’ve had. I’ve had good sex and bad sex, and a spectrum of in between. What I have never experienced, is what I have with him. He has had less partners than me, is younger, and yet somehow makes me feel something so uniquely wonderful it makes me question why anyone would have one night stands. And, yes, I have had them.

We had a good breakfast and I counted the hours left before my departure. I didn’t pack, nor did I go for my shower and eventually he asked why. I didn’t want to leave, pure and simple. Whilst my children are my blood, he is my heart.

We sat on the previously ill-fated sofa and he jokingly asked whether he was able to play his game and I laughed and agreed, as long as he told me he loved me. His brother then called and Wildcard spoke to him for a little while. Once finished, he told me about the problems his brother was having with his wife: her jealousy, control and sometimes violent behaviour. She’s Irish and according to Wildcard, has a mental health issue ‘with papers’ to prove it.

I listened in horror to what he told me. His brother is almost a prisoner – not allowed to leave the house without his paranoid wife, unable to call his family more than once a week, and all his wages going in to her account as she does not work. After three years, his brother still does not know the area or how to get out of the situation he is in.

One the one hand, we only have his version and I only have Wildcard’s but I have no reason to disbelieve him. I can understand the jealousy to a point (I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t) but what she is doing can not be making either of them happy and she is definitely hurting his brother and his parents – and why anyone would want to hurt them I don’t know.

Somehow, Wildcard being afraid of marriage and wary about the move to the UK started to make more and more sense.

To be continued.

Trip 4: day 2, travel and arrival

If you’ve read my last post, you’ll know that I commented upon the challenges of a long distance relationship and the sheer amount of organisation needed.

Mistake me not, he is worth every second. Barring the first trip, Covid has been ever present in our relationship. Multiple tests, multiple heath forms… this week’s trip pales in comparison. But I will say it again, he is worth it.

I’m on the plane now. I’m tired but comfortable. I started to question myself and my feelings, wondering at the changes I feel and what that actually means. My conclusion is that the absence is not excitement but fear. I’m not nervous or scared. Ok, my connecting flight bothers me a little, but in general there is no anxiety at all. That has to be a good thing.

In a way, its kind of left a void. An empty space not filled with any emotion right now.

******

It’s two hours later. I’m still on my flight but we are starting to descend. I then need to check-in for my second flight and wait for the final hour’s journey to be with him.

As we have got closer, I feel like I’m slowly awakening…unfurling like a rose bud. My heart and body and soul are calling out to him and waiting for his answer. I need to touch his skin, look into those deep brown eyes with all their mischief and…love. Yes, love.

No number of hours on video calls can compare with being 5 minutes in his company.

I’ve listened to my music on replay and have been reading my book. I’m now bored and impatient. I want him.

*****

I’ve seen his face. Yes, still on a screen but I’m so much closer now. I could see that little twinkle in his eye and know he is excited too, no matter how much he teases me otherwise.

Considering my anxiety, the stop off at this airport was relatively stress free. I didn’t know where I was going and neither did a few of the staff, but check in and security was easy. I’m about half an hour from boarding my last flight. I can’t wait.

Trip four: Day two

I’m hungry. Urgh.

I have a 25 minute wait until my gate opens. The airport is busy, even at 6am, and I have found a comfortable spot I don’t want to relinquish. Oh, the trials of solo travel.

I slept fitfully last night, in part due to the strange room, and the rest due to noise and knowing I needed to get up at 4.30am.

A lot of the darkness has cleared however, knowing grief, which unfortunately I do, it will come again… but I’m safe for now.

I feel pretty today. I’m wearing a baby pink jumper with a cut out back, comfy jeans and black pumps. Somehow, washing my hair in whatever Holiday Inn provided in the shower has defined my natural curls. I feel cute. I’m just hoping that this lasts until 4pm when I finally arrived at my destination.

I remember speaking once to my London friend, and her saying that she hoped her boyfriend realised the difficulties of getting over there. In truth, neither he nor Wildcard have any idea. Searching for dates and tickets, getting time off, sorting kids and household and pets, insurance, currency, covid tests, train tickets, hotels. And then, for me, a day and a half of travel. Unfortunately, there is no direct route to his city from the north of England, so I have to travel to London or get connecting flights. It so happens that on this trip, to maximise the short time I am there, I’ve had to get a connecting flight anyway.

I will be honest, I wanted to throw this is his face last night when we had our little bicker. I didn’t, because I knew the bickering was my fault. Plus, he would retort that it was my choice to come, and my choice to come now. Which is true.

Yesterday, tired-grieving me allowed herself to fall into the always-unhelpful pity party which is: it is not like it was when I first came.

Of course it isn’t. It never can be. No, he didn’t message me constantly yesterday, but he was working and he didn’t the first time I came. I allowed that, and a simple and innocent comment from him (do you want me to go whilst you are eating?) To build into a sulky spat which caused an upset. Ah well. All is OK now.

And they have just called us to board early. Result!

Day one, trip four

I’m at my Holiday Inn Hotel and they are getting big stars from me. Staff have been really friendly and helpful, they’ve made a special gluten free meal and the facilities at the hotel are great.

Am I feeling any more excited? Maybe a little. Wildcard called me before and I felt sunbeams start to penetrate my morose mood a little more. Soon…soon, I will be kissing his soft lips. I can’t wait.

I haven’t been to this London Airport in over two years since the first time I travelled to see him. The last two trips have been via Spain and leaving from Manchester. Regardless, the difference is palpable. The train from London to the airport was crammed. In June last year, with advisories stating not to travel – which I ignored – the airports were ghost towns. Few people, closed shops…tomorrow’s flight will be a very different affair. I fly out at 7.15am, and am still trying to calculate when I need to get there. On one Ryanair page it says at least two hours before, on another just 1.5 hours. Decisions, decisions.

I’ve eaten and showered and now must try to sleep.

Grave

I’ve written a number of posts recently. They are currently sitting in the draft folder, that graveyard for the unpublished.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with them: they’re just incomplete. I write without a plan or even a clear process – diary-like, I write what is relevant at the time. Believe it or not, I am conscious of making mistakes (although I am aware I do) and will leave a post for checking and publishing later. This, clearly, often doesn’t happen. When I finally go back to the post it is no longer relevant so I don’t post it. Silly, really, as this matters only to me.

I’m sat on the 12.47pm train to London. I shouldn’t be.

The plan was to get the 18.47 train. But then life spun, as it often does I’ve realised, and my options changed.

On Sunday evening, my sister text me quite late at night, asking if I was awake. She called me, and let me know that my cousin was in hospital in a coma. He had collapsed whilst eating and they suspected a heart attack or stroke. His own father had died at a similar age of a heart attack. Unfortunately, many of my Dad’s siblings had heart issues, as did my dad.

I haven’t seen my cousin for a while. He is older than me and since Dad’s death, I see less and less of his family. This cousin used to visit my Dad regularly though – one or twice a fortnight – and was one of the few people who did. He had shown me kindness in the past, and whilst latterly had clearly been poisoned by my evil step-brother, I was sad about him.

I didn’t sleep well.

The next morning, I was informed that he had indeed died, not of a heart attack. It appears he had choked on his food. The ambulance did not arrive for 50 minutes.

I don’t know any more than this. My guess is that his wife had suspected the heart attack and maybe didn’t check. Or perhaps she was unable to help him. Either way, my heart ached for her and how she must feel now.

Yesterday I felt low, grave, morose. I drove to town to drop off my PCR test but there was no excitement. I got home, exhausted, and messaged my boss to let him know I was not great. He offered the rest of the week off and after much stressing and contemplating, I agreed.

At 10am this morning I changed my train ticket, hastily finished preparations, and here I am.

I still feel low. I should be excited, and there have been moments of that, but I’m not really.

As usual, I have put my own pressures and worries on to this trip before I even started. This situation has just added to it.

What I will say, is that his face has been the only thing to make me feel an ounce of happiness. He is like a sunbeam, breaking through my dark clouds.

I can’t wait to see him.

Just

I can’t help but think that these journeys are unnecessarily complicated. I’ve only just published my last post which I completed yesterday because of the complications.

My experience through the airport of Wildcard’s country was relatively simple. Except that no one knows how to queue. People were pushing in to check-in from all angles. As I can’t speak their language there was little I could do but glare. Oh, and watch Wildcard as I waited. He stood at the barrier until I blew a kiss and waved him off. I watched him disappear for a moment then reappear, trying to see me in the queue again and then slowly walking to find his parents who were sat someone in the airport. I felt a pull from my solar plexus as he walked away – like my heart was pining for him as the distance grew, a complete physical manifestation of missing him.

So, due to the queue jumpers, check in took longer than needed. I had originally booked a priority ticket on Ryanair which gives you a 10kg carry on and a handbag. I had brought a 20kg case with me inbound as I had gifts to give Wildcard and his family and also brought toiletries etc, some of which I have left there with the bigger case.

Of course, once I had filled my smaller case with the gifts from Wildcard’s mum, I decided to buy a 20kg case pass again. I shouldn’t have bothered. My small case weighed 6kg. I prefer not lugging it round, it’s true, and security is easier with liquids and electricals packed away. But I’m not sure the cost justifies this. Is it more economical to buy the 20kg case when you buy your ticket? I’m not sure. Plus ‘priority’ is a joke. I’ve been on 8 flights this year and only once has Ryanair honoured priority pass. Plus, I think most people buy priority anyway, so it hardly makes a difference.

The plane out was delayed slightly which added pressure to my already tight schedule. My second flight to the UK (which I am now sat on, waiting to move) was not until 6am. I landed at 10pm, and once we had disembarked and went through security, picked up luggage and walked what seemed miles to the pick up point, I was wondering if it was worth going to the hotel.

It was. I travelled less than 10 minutes on the complimentary airshuttle and arrived at a comfortable hotel room with a huge bed and spacious walk in shower. It was 11pm before I had spoken to Wildcard, showered and looked for taxi options. Annoyingly, the hotel shuttle didn’t run until 5am and I needed to be at the airport for 4.30am. Check your hotel carefully. Airshuttle buses run at unique times for every hotel, if they even have one.

I didn’t sleep wonderfully well – my head was filled with Wildcard and the thought of a 4am get up – but being comfortable on a huge bed was better than sitting on a hard metal chair in the airport. Even if I had not slept, which I did, being comfortable for 5 hours was worth the £45 for the hotel. There were no comfortable facilities at the airport for my wait, although there may have been if I had booked a transit/connecting flight??

I woke, dressed, made my way out of the hotel and found a convenient ATM right outside the hotel. That was the simplest part of my morning. It all went downhill from there. I ordered my taxi via Cabify. This is the second time I have used them in Spain. I was quoted €13 for a 10 minute journey which is still cheaper than the €25 cost of a taxi transfer via the hotel. As before though, the taxi never arrives on time even though you can watch their journey on the interactive map. Secondly, there were a few other people waiting for taxis which made me wonder why the hotel hadn’t honoured its hotel room + transfer package if there were a few people needing it. Ah well.

The taxi driver didn’t speak English. We managed to communicate that I was going to the airport. He took me to the wrong terminal. I didn’t know this until I tried to enter the terminal and was told to go down two floors and get a bus. Sounds simple? It’s not at 4.45am when you are 15 minutes late and don’t speak Spanish. Plus, there was noone around which gives the airport an eerie feel and you can’t follow the crowds in the hope of getting to the right place.

But, I got there and managed to get to the right terminal. My next problem was that the UK Gov locator form wouldn’t accept my vaccination QR code and so the Ryanair staff wouldn’t check in my bag until I had done it. So, I stood at the front of the queue furiously fighting with it. Eventually it was done and I made my way to security. I weaved through the empty barriers and watched people walk straight through the ‘priority’ section, even though that was for disabled people or prams and they were neither.

The security alarm went off twice as I tried to walk through and the security didn’t speak English. You can tell they were talking about me though as I was ‘wanded’.

Soon I was finally, finally through security. I had a little time to grab a coffee and wish for the millionth time I wasn’t gluten free as I tried to ignore the beautiful fresh sandwiches and pastries on offer. Likewise, the plane offers nothing gluten free for breakfast. I’m probably hangry as well as exhausted.

I’m now on a train heading towards the centre of London so I can catch my final train back up North.

The flight to London was fine – practically empty – which makes the 4am get up worthwhile. I don’t know if it is covid or me but I really hate packed aeroplanes now.

When we landed though, I felt the physical pang in my chest. I was in the UK, home, and as far away from Wildcard as I can be. My heart aches with missing him. My heart tornadoes with thoughts and feelings and fears of the future.

Why can’t I just love him and him love me, and why can’t we just be together?

4am

Good morning!

I’m sat in the departure lounge. My flight leaves in two hours and I haven’t slept yet. I probably should have done and I’m regretting sitting down. I now feel really sleepy.

Travelling alone, I can’t risk having a sneaky sleep. I feel vulnerable and I’m scared I will miss my flight. But I really, really want to. The mask weirdly makes me feel even more tired. Looking around, no one else is sleeping either, even the ones in groups. Do they feel like me?

I can’t wait to see Wildcard. We had a tricky month after my last trip but things have been great since. I’m determined to be positive and confident and not worry about the future. I’m just going to enjoy the here and now. That’s all we truly have, isn’t it?

I wanted Wildcard to show some excitement about my coming but he didn’t. That doesn’t mean he isn’t. He just doesn’t declare it openly like me and I have accepted that. Sometimes, even now after nearly two years, some of his joking sends a pang of fire through my veins. It’s too easy to worry. I know I’m too sensitive and I wish I wasn’t, but then isn’t that just who I am?

It’s nearly 5am now. I wasted a bit of time walking around. The airport is getting busy now. I’m waiting for my gate number (which I’m informed is in 15 minutes). I’ve had an unpleasant incident at one of the restaurants here – giving me a disclaimer where they clearly state they fry gluten free food with all other food that is not gluten free and they couldn’t get me out of there quick enough.

I can’t wait to be sat on the plane as it means I am a step closer to him: that feeling of comfort and ease when I am close to him. And not overthinking of course.

Decisions and positivity

31st August 2021

Today is weird day. As in, I’ve felt weird all day. It is the last day of my employment. The last day of my current career, a career I’ve been in for 18 years.

I don’t know how to feel. I’ve loved being a teacher but have been unhappy for some time.

I’m tired of initiatives, jumping on bandwagons, the career obsessed, the paranoid, the power hungry, the government interference, the lack of team work, new apps and websites, assessment without levels, new exam specs, ever shifting grade boundaries and goal posts, revolving policies, academies, endless paperwork, watching my back…I could go on. I will miss the kids. Their innocence, their hopes, their fears, their characters, their laughter, their honesty, their gratitude, their potential. So I guess that is how I feel.

People have said that once this is all over, I will feel better and will want to go back to teaching. It hasn’t happened yet. I’ve considered tutoring but I don’t want to. I’ve considered supply but I don’t want to. Yes, I’m scared of failing. But there’s more. I’ve lost my passion for the job. I am disheartened, burnt out and can’t trust any more.

However, I’m a single mother whose ex borrows money from me rather than contributes. I have a mortgage to pay. Three children to look after. 

When I get my settlement money, I need to be careful. There isn’t any more after that.


As today is September 3rd, you can see that I didn’t finish that post. I didn’t know what else to say.

I’m still unsure what to do. I’m stood at a crossroads. The way behind me has the Great Wall of China, a landmine field  Sleeping Beauty’s thorn wall and goodness knows what else blocking me. I can’t go back.

But in front of me are many paths. I know which one I want to take but that one is the scariest. There are much easier paths that I just don’t want. Decisions, decisions.

I go to see Wildcard in two weeks. I’m excited. I know that I could work a little before then (if I take the easy, less desirable path) but it is not difficult to choose to wait until I get back. More decisions.

On a positive note, I’m on day six of a detox diet. It’s basically vegan with reduced sugar and caffeine too – I’m only having honey occasionally and one coffee a day. There’s lots of healthy grains, pulses, fruit and veg and nuts. Today I am eating chia pudding for the first time and trying to convince myself it doesn’t look like frogspawn. Quinoa looks like bird seed. But, I’m doing well.

Hope you’re well too. After all, positivity is a state of mind.

Control

It is 7.22am and I am on my first train on my little solo trip to London. Last night, I wasn’t sure I would make it.

Considering I have had three hours sleep, I have to applaud myself for being on this train at all.

My trip was planned as a soul searching journey. I still am not sure what to do about my life. The end of August is creeping ever nearer and from September 1st, I am officially unemployed.

Whilst travelling alone, my initial plan was to meet a friend there. We would have lunch today and then go out for dinner tomorrow night. Saturday daytime I had promised myself a leisurely stroll around as many museums as I wish – no pressure from anyone else, I could stand and stare or avoid as I would choose. I had booked a hotel need Hyde Park and planned to stroll around there too.

I was excited. I love travelling: culture, history and new experiences. It invigorates my mind and my soul and it is what I need right now. At home, I can’t think. My mind is crammed with thoughts and ideas and worries and concerns. I can’t sift through it all to make actual decisions.

I watched a great TED talk with Tony Robbins this week. He talked about decisions and actions. I realised, much like what I have learned with Mel Robbins, that decisions are power. When we make a decision and see it through, we then control our life. Everything we do or not do, comes from a decision.

So, I’ve made the decision not to go to London for the weekend as planned but just for the day.

Why?

I’ve mentioned my planned and then booked London trip to Wildcard a few times over the past week. Our conversation about this has been limited – I know that when he listens but is silent he is thinking and processing. I knew he wasn’t keen on me going there for some reason.

Last night we had our usual evening call. Despite his bout of covid, he is recovering well and was in high spirits. Until, that is, I told him that I was getting the train early. He had forgot (not unusal) that I was going today. That wasn’t the problem. It was when I told him I was returning on Sunday that was the problem.

Before you judge, as I am sure you will, there are a few things to remember. His culture is so different to mine and probably yours. I have accepted that as I have accepted all of him in loving him. Next, for the majority of our relationship we have been blighted by Covid. He barely knew pre-covid me. The one who went on holidays with friends, day trips walking and sightseeing regularly, out for coffee each week. He knows the woman who has been at home for 18 months, my only travel being to him.

The ironic thing of course is that my new found confidence in travelling alone has come from him and my trips to see him. Going down to London doesn’t seem that big a deal after navigating layovers in Spain. When I don’t speak Spanish. And got lost.

Nonetheless, he wasn’t happy. He couldn’t understand why I would go and stay there alone. He was suspicious and jealous and confused. Why wasn’t I going with my family? Why wasn’t I going with a friend? I tried to explain needing alone time and also that none of my family have the same love of museums and galleries as me, but he just couldn’t get it.

He talked about the seriousness of our relationship – would I travel alone if we were married? I answered no.

My number one choice, every single time would be to travel to or with him. Without question. I can’t wait to see him again and to take my family with me. If we were married, I would have no need to travel alone. I would hope we would be travelling together. For him, my solo trip was almost an act of defiance against our relationship – a kind of declaration of my still-singledom.

In my culture, without a ring on my finger, I kind of still am. In his, I am not. We are serious therefore we may as well as be married. I probably knew that deep down. In a way, it is comforting to have it confirmed.

By the end of the call though, as he had calmed down, he repeatedly told me to go on my trip. He claimed he had been joking – he wasn’t- and that he knew I loved him so it was not a problem. He said that there would be a discussion if I didn’t go.

Within ten minutes of our call ending – me still in shock and not sure what to do for the best – he had messaged apologising. He told me to forget all he had said and enjoy my trip. I reiterated that I never had any intention of hurting him and I could cancel. Considering our relationship recently, the fact that London isn’t going anywhere, I would have done this. He repeatedly told me to go: there wasn’t a problem.

Hence, my dilemma. I had a decision to make.

Yes, it is my life. Yes it is my choice. But it my choice to be with him and my decision to spend my life with him. Was this trip more important than him? Definitely not. Clearly, next time there needs to be a much more detailed conversation before I book anything.

And so, I choose this compromise and middle ground. I go for the day. He had been relatively happy with that in comparison. I am still going so not completely bowing down but am nodding to his feelings. I’m showing him that I care and he is important.

So that is my decision. Emphasis on MY.

I wish this trip hadn’t coincided with a cake order, but so-be-it. I had made the choice to take on the order, knowing I was travelling. I finished what I could for 2am, slept until 5am and got up to finish.

You know what this shows? I can do amazing things when I choose.