“I have learned so many things, Father. Not just how to make vichyssoise or … a sauce vinaigrette, but a much more important recipe. I have learned how to live, how to be in the world and of the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life, or from love, either.”
I have a friend who keeps asking me what is the story between Goldfinch and Jack. She seems to think I just flitted between the two of them out of a fickle nature.
Already I have shared with her my story several times, but she still seems to think very little of my relationships. I get tired of explaining what at the end of the day is between myself and Goldfinch, and myself and Jack.
One thing I do know is that before I was attacked, other people were influencing me too much when it came to my relationships. Other people, friends, colleagues and strangers made it impossible to enjoy a relationship with Jack at all.
I learnt how to not be so easily influenced, not be so worried about what others thought when they did not know my true situation. I may well have learnt how to live I guess. I was not going to be running away any more – neither from life, nor from love.
Two years ago, I came back from Australia and found that all of the photographs I had taken with my tablet had vanished from the camera files – yesterday, Jack somehow found them.
Breathe. Yes, it is true. I was so broken hearted when my photographs just were not there. They were not there. I checked and re-checked, and cried and cried again. None of my photographs from my summer with Goldfinch. I had one picture, of his kitchen, of a cake I made. That’s all I had.
A year later I planned to return to Australia and determined that I could not travel to the other side of the planet and be without a single photograph, I bought myself a camera as I no longer trusted my tablet. Of course, it was impossible for me to travel last year as Australia closed it’s borders due to the threat of Covid-19. I know that decision was made to protect the citizens of Australia – but honestly, it was a huge blow to my heart.
Of course, I am not really sure why I was going out the visit Goldfinch again when I was in a relationship with Jack. But one of the reasons was the loss of all of those photographs. I seemed to need some sort of proof that I had travelled across the world to see the man I loved, the father of my little apricot. Many of my photos were kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, bandicoots, trees, hills, birds, public buildings in Adelaide’s centre, art in galleries, and some were of Goldfinch and myself. It was hard to lose all of it. I think I was prepared to travel all the way back there in the hopes of collecting lots more photos and videos – that would help me to enjoy special memories forever.
My tablet is on it’s last legs. I hardly ever use it anymore. Jack was playing around with it at the weekend because he was trying to forward emails from my inbox. He said he had downloaded some files onto my tablet and could not find them. He started messing around with the settings of the tablet and doing things that I cannot understand. As he was searching for the files he wanted, he came across some pictures of Goldfinch and me. He showed them to me, and said that I looked very happy.
I could not believe my eyes!! I could not believe what I was seeing. There were over a hundred photographs that I had taken when I was out in Adelaide, and videos too.
I cannot understand it! I cannot believe it! But they are there. Jack helped me to blue-tooth them on to my laptop. Then we sat together and looked at them together. They bring back so many deeply happy memories. I can’t explain my joy. I am so immensely grateful to Jack. He has somehow miraculously resurrected photographs that I thought were lost forever.
It might not seem that big a deal, but to me, it’s such a huge gain. I am just blown away that two years after I cried my heart out believing those photographs were all gone, Jack has somehow restored them.
This may sound silly, and of course, it is all probably because I know nothing about technology – but if does feel as if Jack has performed a miracle. He gave me back something I thought was gone forever. He gave me back my special memories with Goldfinch in Australia. The ironic thing is, the way it happened. It ended up with me curled up in Jack’s arms, tears streaming down my face, and him kissing me because he could see how much it meant to me. If I had never lost those photos, perhaps I would have been tempted to keep them from Jack, and enjoy those memories in private. But now…well, it has brought me closer to Jack, made me more grateful to him…that he has brought these photos back and is sharing them with me.
Behind the scenes of this year’s GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF, scores of bloggers have been helping us with a secret project. In fact, we now know that at least one hundred people have taken part in this project, and we think others (friends, family and colleagues of those we invited to take part) – making this special project a truly international collaboration.
Very soon, we are about to reveal the results of a collaboration between over a hundred men, women and children (and also dogs), the majority of whom have never met each other. The collaborators are spread all over the world, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, even two of our colleagues in Kabul have collaborated on this project.
Some of you know exactly what we are referring to, others may be wondering what it is that we have been working on behind the scenes. Well, in an hour from now, we are going to publish what we call THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ PATCHWORK OF LOVE. It will display over a hundred replies to one question that we asked people of all ages, all backgrounds and in all parts of the globe.
The question we asked them was:
The result, the patchwork we are now thrilled to be able to present to you is something that has truly warmed our hearts.
We left everyone we asked to interpret that question however they wished. Some told us what love feels like inwardly. Some told us about how love manifests itself outwardly. Others told us what or who they love. Some gave us just a one word answer – “family” of course being by far the post popular. Others gave us a fascinating sentence. One or two, were unable to stick to the one sentence limit we asked of them. So, because what they said was so special, we decided to try to squeeze their response into the patchwork.
But the point is – there are no wrong answers. We received replies from over a hundred people in all parts of the earth telling us what love means to them. When one person told me that to them “love is money”, at first my heart sunk. But I realized, it would be wrong to leave that reply out, it has to be in the patchwork. All of the replies had to be in the patchwork.
You will see a variety of replies, which tell a story. You will see common themes. You will see that some seemed to think when we asked what love meant to them, we were asking about romance, others interpreted the question completely differently. Every single reply matters! Over one hundred strangers sharing their heart – that’s an insight into the entire human family!
Actually, it has become quite fascinating. They have created something very special between them, something that will make you smile, warm your heart, and in some cases provoke tears. We have been faffing around with graphics for several days now and the patchwork is finally ready!!! The result is a powerful creative piece. Take your time over it. Over a hundred people, a hundred beating hearts, worked on this project with you, and it has produced something exceptional!
Jack and I work together a lot nowadays. On Sundays, pretty much all of the work we do is online, and we spend long hours staring at computer screens. We take turns in preparing food and drinks, well, ok, I prepare the food, and he does his bit with preparing drinks. We chat, we hold hands, we kiss – we do all the things that a couple engaged to be married are known for.
Occasionally we squabble, not really arguing, but teasing each other over something we don’t agree on. Currently, that is often about our wedding. We are not in agreement, but I am going with what Jack wants. I am happy to let him make these decisions and take responsibility for them. It is all too stressful for me to cope with.
But that is not what this post is about…it is about what happens when we squabble about music. We actually both love a lot of the same music. So we only squabble over finding music that suits our mood. On Sunday morning, I was really shattered after a long week at work. I wanted something calming. Jack wanted dance music – dance music at half past eight on a Sunday morning!
So although I generally enjoy yielding to Jack when we squabble, on this occasion, I insisted that he find something that was kinder to my achy head. So for the next hour, we listened to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra serenade us with the music of John Barry. So lovely!
I am blaming both my TOM and also Thomas Hardy for this….but I am writing about it because I am trying to make sense of it.
I found myself in the unusual situation of unexpected and inexplicable tears early this morning.
Maybe it was the agony I felt for poor Tess of the D’Ubervilles. Jack is coming back on Wednesday, and I should see him on Saturday night for the first time since mid-June. You know how much I love Jack, how incredibly grateful I am. But watching the dramatization of Thomas Hardy’s desperately tragic novel provoked suppressed fears deep within.
I do trust Jack. I really do. But putting your trust in someone brings a certain vulnerability. Trust can be broken or betrayed. I am sure Jack would never treat me the way poor Tess is treated. Yet how frightening a thought it is to be let down by someone who fills your heart with hope and makes you feel so happy.
For some reason, I kept on thinking of Goldfinch. I was weeping within because it is so long since I saw him. Jack knows how much I love Goldfinch, how much he means to me. Goldfinch unwittingly became a source of safety to me, after a harsh storm in my lift. He was careful never to let me entertain the hope of a permanent future with him. Yet he allowed me to enjoy happiness with him, he added so much to my happiness. Sometimes I long to be in his arms.
Confusing – isn’t it! I am deeply happy that I am going to marry the man who is absolutely ideal for me in every way. There is no question in my mind that Jack is as close to a perfect match and compliment to me and I am to him as could ever be. “We dream the same dream, we want the same things”. I am full of hope and happiness. But the vulnerability, the fear of it all falling apart and ending in desperate tears.
Is it pre-wedding jitters? It will all be fine when Jack is back and I can look into his eyes and know….he won’t let me down again.
I was thinking about FREEDOM the other day. Sometimes I read a sentence such as “freedom is relative” or “freedom has limits” or “freedom is a responsibility” and it sets me off pondering practical examples of how that works. Often restraints or rules/laws can enhance freedom.
I was primarily thinking of travel. For example – driving. Freedom of movement on the roads is actually enhanced by set roadways, lane dividers, traffic lights, speed limits. If you took those restrictions away – how successful do you think your drive to work would be?
How would you feel about boarding an aeroplane and then hearing an announcement that there had been an international agreement to abandon flight charts and allow all pilots to fly any which way they wanted?
There are some people who really don’t seem to like rules, laws, restrictions and like to make it known that they feel their rights, their freedoms are being violated. However, in so many cases, I wonder if they realize just how very damaging it would be to everyone to have no restraints at all.
When I have the time to allow my mind to wander…I grow to love the perfect freedom that comes with wise and timely laws. But appreciating the principles behind those laws makes it so much easier to see how liberating they can be.
I learnt so much about freedom within my family. My parents patiently taught us how to make responsible decisions about the way we behaved, spoke, dressed – and even helped us to understand that it is very much possible to identify wrong thoughts and shun them. The freedom that resulted – it was a haven of love, warmth, safety, respect, joy and purpose. I don’t think everyone has had that. I sometimes wonder if that is why they struggle to understand how freedom and restraint marry so well together.
Jack is still abroad. Sigh. I miss him! It’s almost a month since I last saw him in the flesh. We talk every day. He read my posts last week celebrating my love for him…he said they made him very happy.
He is on a tough assignment right now…dealing with blatant corruption and it is frustrating to him. Yet despite the challenges of work, he is enjoying the hospitality of the volunteers in the land he is working – particularly the food!
Last night I came home and wrote love letters (in email format) to him. I am so proud of him…I just wish I could be there with him.
When you are in love…every new love song seems to be written for you. It is very hard to pick another love song to celebrate Jack. But one has managed to sneak into my celebration of Jack.
I have been living my life with gusto since I can remember. I have packed a lot in! Years of purposeful activity and enriching experiences. Yet…the sense of belonging has never been as great since I allowed Jack to be the one who wrapped me up in his arms at night.
I am Jack’s. It does not need any other definition.
Oh what a joy it is to celebrate Jack! I will always want to celebrate our almost miraculous getting together after the stress and estrangement we experienced. Every year, every anniversary – what a momentous feeling that we made it!!! We made it despite all the odds!
Some have thought us crazy…well, they thought I was crazy for forgiving Jack – but it is not as simple as that. After what happened to us – the rift – the rift in our relationship, the rift in time and subspace, and all that matters – our peace treaty had to be pretty spectacular. Yet…it surpassed anything I had dared to hope for.
There will be challenges in the future, but after everything that we have overcome, surely nothing’s gonna stop us now!!