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I asked myself the same question while sitting on a plane, just about to depart from Prague, back to London Heathrow. Journey time close to 2 hours, conditions permitting: scattered showers were forecast in London on arrival. Soft movie music was playing a dramatic scene that seemed to whisk me away into a melancholic haze. I had double vision due to the salty tears - my tear ducts unable to cope with the emotional turmoil from my heavy heart. We’d been together for just over a year, six months of it, she was in the UK. I tried to plan with her, my next trip back to Prague, or the next event we’ll both be invited, whereby she’ll have five weeks vacation in London with me. I’ll pay for her airfare, food, entertainment and beverages, I didn’t mind, so long she was safe, and that she could see a future with me. Something we can work to, yes; it was real.
My trip back to the UK was always bleak, travelling back was heart wrenching, however this time was different. I always had the same earthy, dry, acidic taste in my mouth that started in my larynx; brought on by a quivery vocal tone as I said goodbye to her at the airport. I was trying to sound strong, made sure I breathed in deeply, chest back, diaphragm lifted. On departing, we without fail walked ten yards and then turned around simultaneously, smiling and waving discreetly. I gave her my customary masculine nod for good measure which she liked. Those last few hours were magnified to such intensity that I had to remember every iota detail in correct sequence: the snack, the comforting murmurs, did she close her eyes when we kissed tenderly? I don’t know, I had my eyes closed at the time. She did I’m sure. Going through those moments so meticulously; drained me, made me nauseous.
Snippets from our conversations throughout the last week vibrated round my head, it was as if I was looking for clues, detecting whether she did see a life with me, she said she did, but that is easy to say when you’re there in front of her ‘in the present moment’. Just by being there, makes the question, do we have a future together? Now, in my head seem forced, and unintentionally superficial, considering the gravitas of the subject. She made the positive delicate cooing noises at the right time and I felt secure in my relationship then at the time; so what has changed hours later? I’m not sure, I recap that she spoke of her friends, what they plan to do in the summer; yet no word where I fit into the equation. No reassuring words to lift any doubt came thereafter, no mention of her love sitting in front of her; just a loving look and beaming smile. ‘God I’m lucky I thought’; those eyes, electric blue, her ear lobes soft and innocent, and her endearing beauty spot an island for two straggly hairs; looking out onto an ocean of milky skin. I was lost in my own love intoxication - ‘self made’ – the worse kind.
By the time cabin crew checked I had my seatbelt on, my vision had become impaired with tears partly due to staring out of the ergonomic Boeing portal at the tip of the wing. Within ten minutes the darkness had swept the runway. The darkness had a profound effect on me – symbolic to an ending – the curtains were drawing to a city I grew to love. Buildings were dark masses; they had lost their style and clarity. I could be anywhere. I felt lonesome, overwhelmed by an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, incredibly emotional and all I wanted to do was reminisce. I tried telling myself not to dwell on the fact I won’t have her beside me, laughing, asking me; ‘if my bum looked big in this skirt’. Have her directing my hairdresser advising him how to shape my stubborn locks. The pride she radiated when I allowed her to be my financial manager, and immediately set aside one hundred pounds purely for her shoe purchases. Her whimsical ways were child-like, it was incredibly refreshing. It rubbed onto me. We were like two children playing adult games, holding hands in shopping arcades, drinking one too many Johnny Walkers, eating out every other night – Italian, Mongolian, French, and her favourite Chinese. Greek cuisine was a big no, no; she ordered every time in Czech. The waiters were remarkably friendly to her; too friendly? They would observe me politely from shaded corners, as if my presence in the establishment rallied up a formal consultation. Paranoia slipped in, like an uninvited guest at a private party. Each time my eyes wandered from her mesmerising angelic exquisiteness, her mild flirtations magnetically got my attention, as if she had tapped into my man default setting. Too assured? Perhaps; but I was living the dream.
While in the air, I felt in the air. Matchstick cities below appeared insignificant, the people even more so. I perused whether by ‘not seeing’ makes everything else insignificant - the conundrum regarding long distant relationships. Notably, it was her turn to commit the time to make a planned London visit, a date reconfirming a commitment to love. No date was arranged, it was all up in the air. Instead of a scheduled date to focus on, all I had to focus on was an infinite blanket of space. The only companion was my memories from the past. It’s now the past?? Then it was only hours ago. That was in 1996.
More I dwelled on our long distant scenario, the worse it got. We didn’t have technology to fan our cinders of passion. Wretchedly our relationship fizzled out on December 7th 1996. I haven’t returned to ‘Praha’ where I still call my adopted homeland.