Narrative about a long, painful and rewarding relationship between very different people.
|She can still remember the first day they met.
It wasn't a romantic setting; unless you class a nightclub in some backwater town as a romantic setting.
She was there with her friends. It was her bestfriend's 18th birthday. All of a sudden her friend points across the room.
"Oh my god. That's the cute guy from the bank. I really like him. He's always so nice to me."
From there on in she knows he is off limits. Rule number 1 is you never go after a guy your friend likes. So she sits back, encourages her friend to approach this guy. After all, her friend has had been through a rough patch; her previous boyfriend had turned out to be a douche; she suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts: she could do with something good in her life.
So she sits back and watches them dance and chat. Towards the end of the night, her other friend, Vicky, starts talking about the guy. She says that she thinks he will be good for their friend. The girl confesses that she likes him too but their friend was there first so its a no go. Vicky reminder her of rule 1: you never go after a guy your friend likes.
She agrees and they go their separate ways.
Fast forward one month: the girl (lets call her Lucy) gets home from her first term of university. Its Christmas.
She meets up with her friend and asks how things have been going with the guy. Her friend tells her that they chat but that they aren't really right for each other. Lucy admits that she always thought he was cute and her friend agrees to set them up.
They go for lunch at a local pub only to discover that the guy works there. Her friend knew all along and sets them to talking. After a few hours her friend makes an excuse to leave and the two carry on chatting.
Chatting turns to flirting.
Slowly the topic turns to the fact that the guy (lets call him Harry) has been seeing Vicky. The girl knows this and asks how it came about and why he is talking to her if that is the case.
He explains that Vicky approached him not long after the night of the birthday party. He had only recently broken up with his long term girlfriend and Vicky and him had got close (physically) but he never considered them as dating. He knew Vicky saw a lot of other guys and that he was probably one of many but liked the company.
The girl said that if he had been seeing Vicky since that night then he clearly liked her and they should stop talking.
Harry said that he had noticed the girl on the night they met. She had been the one he wanted to get to know but she had been pushing for him to talk to her friend instead so he assumed that she wasn't interested.
The girl explained that her friend had liked him and she wouldn't step in between them.
Harry said that wasn't a problem. He and the friend had been talking but had nothing in common so were happy to remain friends.
He asked for her number.
She said she would think about it.
He walked away and she immediately regretted it. What if she had blown it?!
Next second her phone goes; it's a text from Harry:
" I already have your number. I had asked Dan (a mutual friend) for it the day after we met but I had been too shy to text without knowing if you liked me too."
That was it. It was one of the most romantic things anyone had ever done; it included preplanning and clear forethought about getting in touch. She was hooked.
He asked if she would come back for the New Years celebrations the following day. They had their first kiss at midnight and spent the next 10 years together.... but not without an event or two.
Within the first few days she realised that he may have though Vicky to be nothing more than a fling but she certainly didn't feel the same way. Vicky turned up at his work and attacked the girl. She never spoke to Vicky again although their paths crossed at various points.
She learnt that his last relationship had lasted 4 years. That he had believed that girl to be the love of his life; that they had almost had a child together but his girlfriend had miscarried. That he was aggressive and abusive towards that girlfriend and that she had eventually walked away.
She learnt that he was very close to his mother but hated his father, even though they all lived under the same roof.
That he had a little sister who he largely ignored and that he had a jealous streak.
Finally, she learnt that he liked her because she was different but he also felt threatened by her differences.
When she referenced her culture he sneered; but he would bring it up with pride to his friends.
When she told him her ambitions he said nothing. And then when she went back to university to fulfil those ambitions he became aggressive and cheated.
Finally, when she continued to defy him, and refused to bow to his will, he came to her and explained his feelings:
He had been brought up in an abusive family. His mother had always tried to protect him and his sister from their father but all that resulted in was them watching her being abused and them suffering the occasional abuse when she could not protect them.
He had always believed that a woman's most important role was to raise and care for her children. That was what his mother had done.
But she had never been happy. She had never felt fulfilled.
It was only after watching the girl grow as a person that he realised how much he would have gained from having a different childhood: where he was taught to respect himself; taught to respect women; expected to have an ambition beyond leaving his parents' house and having a clear culture to identify with.
As time went on they grew to understand each other.
They came from very different backgrounds but they could find common ground if they had open minds.
He finally tried her local food and she finally went camping and to Blackpool.
He helped her pay for her studies when she thought she would have to quit because she couldn't afford it.
She helped him when he spent six months battling cancer in her late 20s.
They learnt to show a united front and deal with all the bullshit at home and between themselves.
Above all, they learnt to make time for each other and to be each other's best friend because that was the only thing that held them together through the cheating, the abuse, the hair loss and the distance.