Memories…Letting The Happy Ones Dominate

One year ago…I published this post. I was very pleased with it. So here it is again.

(By the way, I did make it back there at the start of June, I needed to)

happymemories

I am about to go on holiday for two weeks.  I will be visiting various family members and friends.  I hope to take lots of photos and share them in posts.  Two weeks of pleasure seeking and seeing loved ones – cannot wait!

But before I go, I want to get something out of my system.  It has been looming over me…so I am going to tackle it aggressively!  Well…I mean face it head on without shutting it out of my mind.

The park I went to that night.  It is a beautiful place.  One of my favourite locations in London.  I had been there hundreds of times in the five years I had lived in London.  I want that park to be beautiful in my mind…not a place I associate with a traumatic event.  Since that night, I have been back three times.

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This is where it happened.  There is nothing outstanding about this spot.  But I do remember sitting on one of the benches that night.  This is a photograph taken from the bench I sat on that night.

When I first arrived at around 10.30pm, it was still fairly light.  There were people walking their dogs, there were joggers, there were teenagers sitting on the grass listening to music and chatting.  There were people sitting on other benches nearby.

Lackford Lakes June 2010

As I sat there, I became engrossed with my own thoughts.  I remember tears rolling down my face because I did not know what to do about my ex-flatmate who seemed to be sucking all of the life and joy out of me.  I did not notice that all of the sunlight had vanished and I was sitting in the dark.  I did not notice that there were no more dog-walkers, no more joggers and no more teenagers listening to music.

I remember a man sitting next to me.  I remember a lot of other things which I am choosing not to write about because I don’t see why those details would be remotely helpful to anyone else.  What he did does not pain me anymore.  It is the situation with my ex-flatmate that pains me still.

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The first time I visited this location after that night, I remembered something else.  The trees in this part of the park – they are brilliantly easy trees to climb.  I had been at this precise location a few weeks earlier with a friend and her sons.  We had been teaching the boys how to climb trees.  So much fun.

It was ever so helpful to remember that.  Such a beautiful park, I want the happy memories to be the ones that dominate.

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When I first moved to London I bumped into a friend from Wiltshire who just happened to be visiting one of my neighbours.  She wanted to go out for a coffee and a chat.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  I still did not know the area very well.  But my neighbour took us to this park.  There is a house, part of which is now a café.  We sat outside in the sunshine, before having a wander around the park.  I fell in love with the park that afternoon.  I would frequently visit over the next five years.

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It is very helpful to remember that.  This beautiful park, full of happy memories I have shared with friends.  I have taken many friends who were visiting me to the park and we have had long walks followed by coffee and cake in the café.  I want those to be the memories that dominate.

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These are the ponds where people can swim.  I had always wanted to go for a swim in these wild ponds, but I was a bit nervous of going alone.  A few days before I was attacked, a group of us came down to this park to do our keep fit class.  One of the regulars was moving abroad to get married and he wanted to have a special class as it was his last week with us.  Everyone used to call the class “fat-camp”.  I was too vain to call it that, so I called it “boot-camp”.  It was lots of running and exercises designed to train the parts of our body we did not even know were there.  Anyone was made welcome, but if you loved pushing yourself you would exult in the class.  We normally met once a week near to where we worked so we could go straight from work.

However, a few days before I was the victim of a crime, we drove up to this park and started running.  We ran together down to the ponds and then went for a swim. Afterwards we ran back up to a grassy area near to where the cars where and followed the instructions of the guy who took the class – stomach crunches, leap-frogging, press-ups etc.  Then we nipped into the pub for a beer before heading home.

© www.wildswimming.co.uk

I remember loving every moment of that night.  It was perfect.  Perfect in every way.  The delightful summery evening, the friends I was with, the exhilaration of running and swimming at a beautiful location, ending the evening with a laugh and a few tears as we said goodbye to our lovely friend before he moved.

It is very helpful to remember that.  This beautiful park, the location for some of my happiest hours doing what I loved with people that I loved.  I want all of those memories to dominate.

So there it is…this has really helped to get this out of my system.  This is the park where it happened.  A tiny blip in an otherwise wonderful treasure chest of happy memories of one of my favourite places in London.

happy memories

 

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

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When I saw the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore, my thoughts were not on flowers. I was thinking about the series of comments I had shared with Bob. Who is Bob? you might be wondering. Bob is the creator of Lovewillbringustogether’s Weblog and is a fine citizen of Australia. I mentioned to Bob how sometimes I wish I could wake up in the morning and find I have miraculously turned into a supermodel and that I had inherited a few millions. I suggested that would give me the confidence to tell Goldfinch I am not happy about he and I living on opposite sides of the planet. Sigh!

coupleAfterwards, I felt bad. I hoped it didn’t sound as if Goldfinch is shallow. He is lovely and he has only ever been gorgeous in the way he treats me…which is why I am sacrificing so much to be able to visit him. I know my faults and what I lack…but he has never made me feel inadequate. However…there is something about me that I think is more of an issue. I often feel I am just not very exciting. I might be nice, but I lack that element of pizzazz, mysteriousness, an exotic quality that makes a man change their plans and fall head over heels with a girl, recognising her as the woman of his dreams. Maybe it is all in my head..let me explain.

Olivia1I had a friend who I occasionally worked with named Olivia. Olivia was from New York and she was full of character. She loved salsa parties and was a brilliant dancer. She was loud and boisterous, fun-loving and very funny. She knew every cocktail and all sorts of music we had never heard before. She had so much confidence and knew so many people. I liked her a lot. She was always such exuberant company. I thought Olivia was awesome. She was one of the most exciting people I knew. Lots of both guys and girls wanted to be on the party list at one of the events Olivia arranged. She was highly social. My best friends Marta and Suzie were a bit more cautious about her. I think she had stepped on their toes a few times, so they were less enthusiastic. But it’s almost impossible for someone to irk me, unless they deliberately run over my toes with a steam-roller, so I was still very much charmed by and in awe of Olivia.

meOne day she said to me, “Mel, you are the quintessential English rose.” I laughed and asked her why she had said that. She said some nice things to me about the way I looked and the way I behaved. She praised my diplomacy and tact, how sweet and mild I was. (To explain the context, she had been complaining about people. I had been trying to reason with her about why these people may have acted the way they had and said the things that had provoked her. I am very mild-tempered and forgiving, I do tend to try to avoid overreacting to people who appear to have been ill-mannered.)

jane.jpgI did not disagree. People have said that to me for many years. When I was sixteen I remember visiting the family home of one of my friends, and her mother grabbed my face and said I was a perfect English rose. I was a bit embarrassed because I was not sure what that meant. But she explained that I reminded her of one of the characters from a Jane Austin novel. Ever since then, people have made similar comments over the years.

Olivia.jpgI asked Olivia, if I was an English rose, what kind of flower was she? She threw her arms above her head in a pose and said she was some kind of rare exotic flower that only grows in the jungle like a bird of paradise. I laughed. But she was right in many ways.

The two of us were quite a contrast in many ways. Olivia had dark beautiful tresses, whereas I was a honey caramel blonde. All our Spanish speaking friends wanted my hair colour. Olivia always made a big impression everywhere she went. I was very sociable but had a softer personality. Olivia said and did things which sometimes shocked people, some found her outrageous. I loved having fun, but I could never offend anyone, and am uber-considerate and thoughtful.

argueBut here were Olivia and I…together again. Olivia had been having health problems. She was in a lot of pain. I was helping her out. Olivia was also becoming bitter about some people who she had fallen out with. She had a fiery character and seemed to often clash with others. I was here trying to empathise with Olivia yet at the same time help her see why people may have reacted that way, but with the most beautiful kindly words I could. I did not want to hurt my gorgeous friend Olivia. She appreciated it, she knew I was genuinely fond of her and was trying to help her see why she was having challenges with people, but in a tactful way.

Although Olivia and I were not the obvious two people to spend time together, I realized that I had become an invaluable friend to her and I loved her company. A blonde and a brunette…the quintessential English rose with an exotic beauty. My only regret about my friendship with Olivia is that she decided to get involved in the Jack situation…which he did not like at all!!! Olivia Santos had more followers on Facebook than even Jack. She had more celebrity friends, went to more parties, and was on stage and television more than Jack. So he was not happy about Olivia meddling and telling him what to do. But that is another story.

olivia2My point is…Olivia was someone who attracted lots of attention. Some men were a bit intimidated by her, but they all fancied the pants of her. Beautiful, confidant, assertive, fiery at times, a trend setter, exuberant, passionate, dramatic…she turned heads wherever she went. She is a bombshell and a firecracker! She is the type of woman that makes other women jealous and that drives men crazy. Sometimes I wish there was more of Olivia in me.

flowers.jpgBut, I am softer. I just am. I can be attractive but I am no great beauty. I am secure in myself, but I am mild and don’t draw attention to myself. I am level-headed, calm, tactful, eloquent, empathetic, diplomatic, graceful, and kind. Women are not jealous of me, they know I am like a loyal sister to them. And men are drawn to me because they don’t fear rejection because they see me as the girl next door. I love people like Olivia – I love their company, they are very exciting to me. And I find I have a number of friends just as feisty and fantastic as Olivia who value my friendship because they know I am loyal and will only ever be lovely to them.

But I admit, I am more the English rose than the Bird of Paradise. I have a lot of friends who are like Birds of parades or tiger lilies, or rare orchids, and I know I don’t stand out as much as they do. I might be the more familiar and perhaps ordinary English rose, but I like who I am. At times, I do wonder if perhaps that means I am less attractive, less memorable, less alluring, less enchanting than someone like Olivia. And that makes me worry. I sometimes feel as if nice, though I may be, it will never be enough to intoxicate the man that I love so much. It shouldn’t matter. But these things weigh upon your mind when you are in love.

But Goldfinch is very fond of me. And for that I am grateful and will be content. I can’t wait to behold him again. And I hope that he is pleased when he beholds me.

Beauty... you know…is all in the eyes of the beholder.

This was my post in response to the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore:

Writing Prompt #18