Thursday, 5 April 2012

Return to Sender

I once knew a girl who said she wanted to live in the countryside. She used to send me postcards and letters telling me about this, describing the life she wanted: picking apples and working sometimes in some dusty old general store where old people came to drink coffee in the mornings. She hoped, one day, to find herself drinking bottles of beer on a porch somewhere, watching the sun go down, maybe listening to the radio, birdsong in the trees. Once, when we were on the phone late at night, she told me how she would paint in an upstairs bedroom she had converted into a studio, with windows that overlooked a lawn, a hammock, a tandem bike leaning against a fence. In her most honest, most vulnerable moments she might mention children and trips to a lake with water wings and blankets and buckets and spades. It bowled me over, hearing all this.

We kissed once at a party. That's how we met. She had herself an awful boyfriend at the time, we got talking, we had an encounter in a hallway. As far as I know, she's engaged to a lawyer now (who, I’m told, treats her very well) and lives at the edge of a city she once refused, categorically, ever to return to. She no longer writes to me, or phones me late at night. Last I heard, she was dreaming of traveling to India, or New York, or Japan, like all the other women I know.

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