So far this week has certainly been a memorable one. Shortly after writing my last entry I received a bizarre and extremely unexpected message on Facebook from the brother of Mark, my ex and most long-term boyfriend to date. Mark moved to Prague 2 1/2 years ago and the day he caught the flight there from London was the last time I saw him. We speak with reasonable frequency but it rarely amounts to much more than idle chat when we are bored, which in Mark’s case is quite a lot as he works very long hours at a hostel.
It transpired that Mark had been travelling back to Prague from a short trip to Paris and had landed in Gatwick for a connecting flight. Unfortunately, due to the weather (how many times has that sentence been typed in Britain this week?!) the flight was cancelled and he was stranded at the airport. And so, a few hours later, I found myself opening the door to him. It was incredibly surreal – not only because it was so unexpected, but because standing in front of me was a central character from what felt like another chapter in my life. One which I speak and think of often but am rarely confronted with in any powerful and/or meaningful sense. He didn’t arrive until after midnight and I had to work the next morning, so we had a brief catch up and then off I went to bed. I thought that was going to be it – an odd, brief reminder of another time that would be a half-remembered memory by the time I returned from work. Instead it turned out that his next flight wasn’t until Thursday morning, and so I took the next day off work so that we could spend some time together.
Time had separated us enough to allow me to feel completely at ease around him and yet find him refreshing and novel. This man whom had once caused my stomach to churn and whom I had been eager to impress; this man whom I had spent some of the best days of my life-to-date with, and whom I had wept over on the evening we broke up (still fresh in my memory – the video for ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay was on when I came home and it completely set me off). Here he was sitting across from me, and while my stomach remained flat I was filled with warmth and affection for a time that I can rationally see both the good and bad in, but which has lost any ability to bring sadness to the surface of my mind. Later in the evening I even helped him to pull someone – once seeing him do this would have cut me in ways just as real as if you took a knife to my chest, and now I could encourage it along without trouble.
The experience was incredibly positive and inspiring. I felt happy to know that there are people whom you can not see for years and still feel close to when they are in front of you. Happy to be reminded that whatever we may be going through, time marches on and helps us to let go of any pain we may feel, if we let it. The daily annoyances and squabbles are completely forgotten, while the more significant upsets are drained of their poison and stand in our personal history as lessons to be learned.
On my day off we travelled to the South Bank and met one of Mark’s friends. Once you have a job it is so difficult to not become trapped in routine, so it was hugely rewarding to be walking around London during a midweek afternoon. I was reminded of the shivering excitement London can induce, one of the reasons why I moved here yet one that has become dulled over time. Everyone and everywhere seemed alive with possibility, and sitting in some random bar in London Bridge before walking up to Hackney and relaxing with an evening pint was easily one of the most satisfying experiences I have had in recent months. In the evening Mark and his friend went back to the pub. My day had been so perfect that I felt content to stay at home, and in one sense I guess I didn’t want it to become just another day where I had ended up drunk and woke up with a hangover. I think it was a wise decision, as Mark ended up getting very drunk to the extent that he fell asleep on the train to the airport and woke up in Brighton, forcing him to wait 10 hours at the airport for the next flight.
I suppose my comment in my last entry about the ability of the weather to change the mood of the city was accurate in ways I hadn’t even considered when I wrote it. The 4 day stretch from Sunday to Wednesday stands as one of the most rewarding times I have had since I came to London.