“The cat crept into the cradle, crapped and crept out again.”
Miss Lein bumbles and fumbles through the sentence in the darkness of the bedroom. Hyper inflection, I work hard to sound British. Moments of relative success I sound a bit like a posh, old British women, but most of the time I unknowingly Canadian-ise the words. I can feel Ali laid next to me, a broad grin, shaking his head at my poor translation of the sentence, from “Canadian” to “British”.
“No, no, it’s cat, not caaat!” Ali hangs on the “a” and breathes the words through his nose to exaggerate the nasal-ness of the North American accent.
We laugh in the dark together. I retry and this time I get a bit further along in the sentence before my Canadia language habits interject.
Ali mocks, “Oooot”.
A long-held Canadian stereotype- our “o-u”s sounding like “oo”.
To be “oot and aboot” with friends, for example...
I have always felt this was a massively inaccurate stereotype and have vehemently highlighted its absurdity through the years.
I just don’t hear it. (Arms tightly crossed against my chest)
But apparently, we do. Evident by Ali’s jovial, unhesitant mimicry.
Tongue twister wins. Miss Lame and Ali give into the fatigue of a long work day and with grins, agree to resume the “British” practice session another time.
An aspect of Miss Lein’s health that has seen significant improvement since early December.
My world became an Ali-Beth world. A proper sleep cycle was established upon his arrival into my life.
You are likely wondering… “Who the heck is this Ali character?
He is my love.
I know. It has been far too long since my last post. Many readers may have believed that I had totally forgotten about my own blog, or had accepted its death. But the blog and writing has perpetually sat in the back of my mind, surfacing from time to time. I think about writing, and long for the creative release. Throughout this year I have begun bits and snippets of writings when life presented new experiences, thoughts and feelings. But I’ve struggled with the fruition of these pieces, left partial, incomplete and unworthy of blog posting.
Writing constipation. This comes with a busy, teaching life and an active social, and now, love life.
Miss lame is in love in her big London world. It’s downright awesome.
I have done all sorts of heart-on-my-sleeve posts about teaching, anxieties, courage, loss. Now it’s time for a totally cheesy, heart-on-my-sleeve love post.
How did Ali and I meet?
We have been living together since December and he only joined my London-world last December. How could this be?
Some back story may be required…
Just over two springs ago, May 2012. Clissold Park.
A regular, Miss-Lame-the-fitness-queen activity after a long teaching day was running circles around this lovely park. On this particular day, G.I. tract is angry. A sticky, humid, hot day. I will myself to go and I prioritise my comfort, putting on minimal clothing- little running shorts and a sports bra. I accept the unbecoming gas-baby distending my belly. High hopes for its birth during the bouncy run.
My love story wouldn’t be complete without something lame going on…
I shut the door to my flat behind me and off I went.
I began my jog of the perimeter of the park. Counter-clockwise, the usual. Halfway through my first round, my hamstring injury starts nagging. I pull off to the side of the wood chip path and go for a good old toe reach and some active stretching- right leg swings. In mid-stretch, I catch a glimpse of a fellow run by. Tall and handsome.
“Oh, he looks cute!” I think to myself. I quickly wrap up my stretchy moment, and like the coyote chasing the road runner, legs producing circles and a cloud of dust, I accelerated after this handsome, running motivator ahead of me.
A back and forth chase begins.
He pauses for a stretch a few hundred meters later. Miss Lame strides by. I can tell he has noticed me too. This goes on for the first round of Clissold. Miss Lame experiences a growing eagerness for things to move beyond the game of chase. The flip-flopping of coyote-road runner roles.
Having spent almost a year in London, one of the things I had observed and had grown familiar with is the tendency for British men not to instigate conversations with women… Unless some form of social lubricant had been previously consumed… Not because they aren’t interested or lack confidence. They just don’t want to be presumptuous. They don’t want to be the “weird, creepy, assuming guy”. With this preconception in my mind, coupled with my impatience and impulsive nature, I conjured a conversation starter… A “pick-up line”, so to speak.
At this stage in the game of chase, the tall, handsome man was the tracker, about 3 meters behind.
I encourage myself. Thinking… “You say something and potentially have a lovely conversation with a handsome man, or you say nothing and play a game of chase and then go home. BORINGGG!”
I call over my shoulder in his direction. The pick-up line: “Are you training for something?”
No more than one heavy, running breath later, the space on the path to the left of me had been consumed by the tall, handsome man. No more chase. Mutual running. All he needed was an invitation.
So I am now told, the chase game began prior to my knowledge. I was not the coyote first. The tall, handsome man entered the park for his post-work run that sticky, humid day. He is about to start his clockwise routine when a little woman in little running shorts and a sports bra strides by. A quick decision is made to break his routine. He runs counter-clockwise. I’m so glad he broke his routine that day.
The love of my life.
He and I ran three laps that day. And we barely noticed. I forgot about gas-baby and the humidity. It’s a wonder how we managed to keep our breath at the rate that we conversed all the while.
His name was Alistair. He loved travelling, sport and people. LIKE ME! He was open, warm and chatty. LIKE ME! And he was excited about his working visa he has recently obtained for a new adventure in… Australia.
NOT like me…
None-the-less, I understood his desire to try something new. To seek and grow. I knew the excitement and courage involved in going into the unknown.
We got each other.
The guy I had been seeing for a month at the time suddenly seemed like a complete waste of time.
At the end of our run, we agreed that running together was far better than solo.
“Same day, time and same place next week.” It was settled.
I ran in Clissold park at that same time and place all week long. Hoping for an accidental run-in. Miss Lame hates waiting. No such luck.
Same day, time and same place the next week. We did not cross paths. My heart sank and my run around the park was half-hearted and more dull than usual. And this time I didn’t have a gas-baby and everything!
Same day, time and same place the next, next week… I go again.
“He’s probably given up and moved on.” “He’s probably accepted it was a one-time thing and is focusing on Australia and moving into a new life.”
I tell myself these pessimistic things in an effort to minimise the disappointment of not seeing him ever again. I try hard to logic, de-emotionalise the situation. But deep down, I was completely hopeful. Miss Lame cannot help but be led by her heart.
I pass through the park gate, and cut right, beginning my counter-clockwise routine. I lift my gaze to the path winding ahead.
What did I see?
A tall, handsome man bounding towards me. Ali. My heart fluttered with excitement and relief.
Our first date was set post this run. This time he instigated. ;)
We carried on seeing each other for the two and a half months leading up to his departure for Australia, knowing full-well that he was leaving.
It was apparent. We were something special. I felt myself falling. I felt that it was mutual. In fact, he had the courage to tell me. What a new, magical feeling.
He left that mid-August.
It hurt. But we both knew he had to go. How important it is to have these experiences.
We carried on communicating through facebook chat and the odd skype, and there were times of disconnect. Some lows. I was always hopeful and unwilling to fully let go though.
The following spring rolled around. May-ish 2013. At this time the messages were becoming long, baring and affectionate. I need to know if I am hopeful for good reason. I challenge.
“We need to plan to travel together or be in the same place within the next year, or else, what is the point?”
He decides he will come back to England to try us. Late November he will arrive.
The six month count down began. Many new and old things preoccupied me through this waiting period.
I spent two months in little London, Canada, with family. July and August 2013. During this time, in between very important old things, such as old friends and the old family cottage, I obtained a new visa.
Back to big London for full time teaching role numero dos in September at a new school.
Time passed quickly with the busy teaching life. Skype and facebook chat became less and less satisfactory as Ali's arrival date neared.
I wonder how the hour long train ride home will feel.
I alternate between scanning the entrance way and peering at my mobile and flipping through facebook updates. I sip my tea. Finish my tea. Tear at the plastic lid of my tea cup until it’s in bits…
Finally, he emerges through the large arrival archway. The look of a long-term traveler. Some facial scruff, comfy, well-worn shorts and shirt, tired flip flops.
Wild, but handsome.
My heart flutters with nervousness and happiness. “I can’t believe this is my life right now!” I think excitedly. “My love story in the making!”
He sees me. A grin. Sort of nervous too. He starts walking the long way around the railing barrier imposed to keep receiving people at a comfortable distance.
“Sod it!” He exclaims as he throws down his bag, pushes it under the railing and ducks under too. He extends up, in front of me. He is taller than I remembered. He is real. Not digital, skype Ali. We hug. And I offer him his tea. He beams. “That’s exactly what I need right now!”
NOTE: Any words that are bolded, italicized, underlined and in red are suggested/preferred words by Mom. She doesn’t like me saying words like fuck, shit, ass (etc) on the internet… I feel these words better illustrate my feelings at times, so just imagine them in there if you will.