THIS ( LOVING) LIFE
YEARS ago I travelled to Sydney for the wedding celebrations of an old flame. Our relationship had begun in Perth, when he was married to an older woman.
At the time my flatmate and I, being very young and a bit silly, had debated whether she was in fact his mother, so much older did she appear to be.
I, in turn, was much younger than the man and pretty much at risk, as they say today.
The only thing he fled from, in my chaotic life, were my other lovers, who, especially in the early days, sometimes chanced across us at inopportune times.
He did not complain but fleetingly, aware, of course, of his own compromises.
He held my hand and my heart on many occasions when I scooted or slid into trouble. At one point of crisis I thought being with him would solve my problems, but he was still married, and I ended up looking after myself.
By the time he was divorced from his first wife, I was married. He didn’t come to my wedding and, as I recall, gave no explanation or apology, but we carried on our liaison, somewhat less lustfully than before, it’s true, but with considerable grace and care. And he sent me an invitation to his second wedding. And so there we were on a hired ferry, cutting through the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour on an autumn day, swilling champagne, scoffing profiteroles, hearing the civilised sounds of a chamber quartet swirling about us.
My husband, less than enamoured with my continued liaison, had declined to come with me, and I knew few of the guests.
I was introduced to a man of my own age who, quite frankly, was someone to swoon over.
He took an unusual interest in me, an unknown girl from Adelaide, I thought, and being a gal from the unfashionable south, I could not but respond to his attentions. He was a friend of the bride and I reckon he was an old
thislife@ theaustralian. com. au For This Life guidelines go to www. theaustralian. com. au/ lifestyle flame of hers, flirting with a woman he knew to be an old flame of the groom. The groom took me away to introduce me to someone else and, in doing so, by way of explanation, said: ‘‘ And this is the woman I should have married.’’
Some years later my husband and I separated. For someone who had not been keen on marriage in my early days, I was unexpectedly devastated and went to stay with a friend in Sydney for a few days, where I saw my old flame. Sitting in an Elizabeth Street cafe later, he told me, without any discussion or suggestion, that he couldn’t leave his family. There were too many financial implications.
I was surprised, embarrassed and sad. seemed an odd reason to me.
You see, I think he loved me. Still does, probably. Somewhere in the crisscrossing of our relationship over the years, marriage missed out.
But that’s not all there is. The next time I am in Sydney, I reckon another ferry ride, just him and me, would be the go.