On the last Saturday night of October each year the clocks fall back one hour here in England. Well, I think the official time is 2am which technically makes it Sunday morning. But for most of us, we know that it is Saturday night that we feel we have an extra hour sleep and wake up on Sunday feeling far more refreshed than normally. This time last year (October 2017), one year ago, I was away from London. I had a week off work and was visiting friends, first in the Midlands and then in the Bristol area.
Sometimes we ask each other, “how did you spend your extra hour?” and most of us will answer “sleeping of course!” Last year, I remember how I spent my extra hour. I was wide awake, not asleep at all! I remember it a year later, and I have a feeling I will remember how I spent my extra hour for the rest of my life.
I had a bit of a disappointment while I was in the Midlands on the Friday evening a year ago. Some bad news about a male friend who was, well, he was bad news himself really. Sometimes, I wonder why I didn’t see how much of a negative impact he was having on me before that night. That night ended the connection I had with him. He has a lot to think about before he makes promises to anyone else. I tried so hard to make it work with him, but he was such a disappointment. I realized how terribly wrong we were for each other. Terribly terribly wrong for each other. It was like the Princess and the Peahead!…Anyway, moving on swiftly from that miserable page in the life of Caramel….
Not to be put off enjoying my break from work I was still determined to enjoy myself. On the Saturday I was shopping and site-seeing with friends and then we went out for dinner and drinks afterwards. As the night was still young, there was a big discussion over whether to explore the nightlife in that part of the Midlands or to opt for a more relaxing end to the evening at the cinema. I remember the only film that caught anyone’s eyes was called “Breathe”. I was tired. I had been working for over fifty hours a week all year and this was the first time I had been absent from work. I was not eager to explore Midlands nightlife. However, that was the night I met Goldfinch.
It took less than five minutes for me to feel comfortable with him. He was the brave one, approaching a stranger. He said hello and asked me some perfectly appropriate formal/friendly questions. He gave me plenty of space. I think he understood that I had my guard up. I answered his questions without imparting any information about myself and I was not particularly friendly, more matter-of-fact, nonchalant. I thought he was just some bloke who was out to enjoy himself (I was not interested in that) but I humoured him because he was not guilty of anything inappropriate or offensive. In fact he was effortlessly gentlemanlike. He naturally knew how to behave, how to conduct himself, how to make a woman feel at ease with him.
What made me warm to him was when two young men who were being boisterous and inconsiderate were nearby, Goldfinch was gracious and considerate with me and he kind of shielded me from them. He sat a little nearer to me, but still allowed enough space for probably two people to have sat down in between us. We were having this conversation with plenty of physical space between us, so I did not feel uncomfortable for one minute. Then he sat a little closer, but he asked me first if that was alright. By that point I would have been happy sitting on his lap. I was utterly smitten by him.
As we talked, I realized there was a lot to talk about, things we had in common, points that were of great interest to me. Because it became so noisy, he moved a little closer. I felt so glad that he did. I started to feel excited. I don’t know whether it was me or him, but suddenly we were holding hands while we were talking. Before I could tell what was happening, I was completely enchanted by a complete stranger. But I have never had a moment’s regret that I fell for him so quickly.
We spent hours together talking. It was so exciting to me. I was holding hands with a man I had only just met and I felt so incredibly comfortable with him. I loved how easy it was to talk to him. It was hours, but the time flew and it felt like minutes. It is amazing to me that we had an extra hour that night because the clocks had gone back one hour. My extra hour was spent holding Goldfinch’s hand and getting to know him. That has to be the best and most memorable way I have ever spent my “extra hour”!
We carried on the conversation when we went for breakfast (a full English – vegetarian version for me) on the Sunday morning. I remember wearing a blue dress of mine I love. I wanted to look pretty for him. He then had to leave. He already had plans for the day with friends. He asked if he could come back and see me again later that evening. My heart leapt. He said he would call or send a message to say what time he was able to return to see me.
Throughout that day, I felt doubtful that he would come back again. I went shopping and out for coffee with friends. I didn’t think he would call, I didn’t think he would come. But he did. It was so wonderful. He asked if he could visit me in London the following weekend. I was thrilled.
I remember the following weekend we carried on talking, I asked him a million questions in my earnest desire to get to know him. We walked through the woods nearby the little nest. I told him all about my memories of high school friendships for some strange reason. I loved that we had been holding hands throughout our time together.
I think he realized I was already becoming very sentimental in my new found enthusiasm for him. He reminded me of what he had told me the week before, he is in England on a temporary basis for work. I tried to reassure him not to worry about me. I understood completely. All I wanted was to enjoy whatever time he had available before he left.
I hope Goldfinch has enjoyed himself even half as much as I have. I have been so happy, so content, so full of love and affection. I sometimes wonder if he has any idea how much of a blessing and bonus to my life he has been.
I cannot ask or expect him to change his plans or the course of his life for me. I know he has to go back to Australia as he said all along.
However, I have realized for some time, that he is one of the few men, perhaps the only man, for whom I would be willing to change my plans, or the course of my life for. But what do you do? What do I do? Sometimes, the turbulence within our own heart makes it so hard to think clearly. What I think I should do is sleep on it.
This year I should use my extra hour sleeping, catching up on all the late nights and early mornings with Goldfinch and wake up tomorrow morning refreshed and hopefully with a clear mind.
One thing I have said to him several times is that if he is ever ill…he must call me so I can go over and be his carer (he likes the idea of me being his naughty nurse!) and devote myself to his every need. I do mean it. And to be honest, I can see that for the present, Goldfinch needs and wants his freedom to fly wherever he wants at any moment. The only way he would ever want the permanence I so desire is if his wings were broken. I think then he would be glad and grateful of my steadfast devotion. After working so long in palliative care…I know I have it in me to give him love on a scale he may never have imagined.
I am never going to forget my Goldfinch. He is going to be a part of me for the rest of my existence.