I can be myself with him. Hair tied in a grandma bun, makeup-free skin - freckled and raw, legs lost within oversized tracksuit pants. I can sit with my legs outstretched upon his on the sofa as we watch the squawking politicians debate the world’s affairs while we throw in commentary, challenging them and challenging each other. Next to him, I sleep like a rock. A repetition of old times. It is as though we have never been apart.
I sit back and think that this is the man who changed me, who completely altered my perception of the world and nurtured me into who I am. Actually... let me correct that ... this is the man who continues to change me, challenge me, cultivate me. He reminds me why I have chosen the path I have and why it is the best choice I ever made.
We went to a beautiful restaurant, a place with a name and a ’reputation’. I dressed up. I can’t remember the last night I wore a silk dress, freshly shaved my legs and slipped into ‘date shoes’ (ie shoes that would be hazardous if worn whilst riding my recycled bike). Fancy restaurants involve a voyeurism which I shy away from and often ethically despise. Yet, I had forgotten how nice it was to feel spoilt, to drink wine that evoked the flavours of strawberries, to taste fetta marinated to the point of creamy heaven.
Our connection was so clear as we debated the case of the last baklava. The couple next to us (who were clearly much more adept at fine dining) had left their last piece of baklava on the plate, untouched. My ex eyed in, I spied it. We watched it hopefully. Afterwards, we discussed it. The last baklava was not just a desert we craved but a topic of political interest. He argued for why the wasted sweet negatively impacted upon the economy - I came from the social justice perspective, examining the issue through the lens of the wealth divide and environmental impacts of waste. In that moment, walking in the misty Melbourne night, past the old pub where the poppas play cards, breathing in the delicious scents of bread baking, I remembered why I will always love him.
It has taken a few days for me to find my balance again, to allow the anchor to release and for my single ship to set sail once more.
There is so much privilege to be had in a connection like ours. I am often asked and even encouraged to rekindle the relationship and to make it work but it is hard to explain. I love him utterly but it is unlikely that our friendship will ever transpire into anything more. Our time for that was long ago but what is left is something that I treasure, it is such a vital part of my life.
I hope that when I am old, grey, wrinkled and wizened that I will still meet with him. Over broken mugs holding cups of tea in shaky, arthritic hands, I hope that we will challenge the politicians, challenge each other and debate the case of the last baklava. I also hope that when this time comes the last baklava will be mine.