Most people remember practically everything about their exes (good and/or bad), but this one was a quite difficult actually, because at first I couldn’t think of a single song.
Not because it’s a few years since we split, or because there was animosity, which of course there was, because he was an infuriating, selfish asshole of a manchild and I was (and am) a crazy, personality disordered, fiery bitch; I think it was more about the fact that I’ve put that side of my life to bed of late and not let anyone else into my heart since that time, so it’s kind of like looking for a lost file in a rusty old cabinet.
So in order to try and dig out and reconnect with those feelings,I checked out pictures of us together in my iPhoto library, and realised, that for me and BM, it was always all about Christmas.
Not that this was the only time we were together. We split and reunited at least 3 times over as many years, but Christmas was the time we really connected. I think that because at heart we were two lost souls and whilst we both know that it was never going to be forever, we took refuge from the world during the holidays and allowed ourselves to feel something despite the pain that we knew lay ahead of us.
The first Christmas we spent together we hadn’t know each other long, but we were both single, seriously attracted to one another and equally attracted to not going through the motions of driving miles to be with loved ones, sleeping on some creaky old camp bed, eating stuff we didn’t like, seeing people we liked even less, etc. etc.
And it was so simple. He did (most of) the shopping. I cooked. I decorated my small flat. He rocked up mid morning with champagne and fresh OJ, after I’d had lots of beauty sleep, a nice luxurious bath and had lunch on the go. We went to bed. We got up and somewhat dishevelled, I finished lunch whilst he set the table. We exchanged lovely, thoughtful, but not exorbitantly expensive gifts. There was no stress preparing stuff that year. He loved my cooking and was (is?) a total gannet so I knew he’d gobble up anything I put before him.
And when it was time to serve the food, I put on my very own Christmas music mix. None of that Live Aid/Slade/Wizzard/Mariah cliched nonsense that’s played on a loop every year, everywhere, thank you very much. Just a choice selection of really cool songs that I harvested from iTunes, one of which was Luther‘s version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ which I love.
And we did. Because tucked away in this warm, twinkly, spicy scented haven, there was no one to judge him, me or our relationship, no worrying about whether or not we wanted kids (or indeed could have them), no one looking down on him for not being my intellectual equal, or me for not being a 30 year old supermodel, no family quizzing either of us about our relationship and what we were doing together in the first place. Just us luxuriating in one another.
And after lunch, we went back to bed for a nap, made love, got up, had a bath, then be-robed and utterly relaxed and replete, snuggled up by the fire with glasses of port to watch Christmas TV and movies. It was the best Christmas ever.
Of course the world couldn’t stay at bay for long. It invariably intervened as did the people that know us best, and of course, it and they tore into our love, as did our individual problems and burdens, of which there were plenty, and a few months later, we split.
Then got back together.
Then split again.
And got back together.
By the time the next season to be jolly arrived, BM and I had settled on being JGF’s and I had managed to persuade him to look after my cats whilst I went back to Manchester to spend the holidays with my family. So on Christmas Eve I arrived at his place mob handed with my boys, all their food, litter, toys and whatnot, then loaded my boot up with food, presents, wine etc ready to hit the road early the next morning and beat the traffic.
12 hours later, I woke up with the dreaded Norovirus, and couldn’t even sit up without retching, and after at least three attempts to pull myself together, had to call my folks and tell them that I wasn’t going to be there for Christmas day. They were understanding but probably a bit miffed, and I was as miserable as can be, especially without my boys to snuggle up with me. I called BM and told him my tale of woe, and asked him ‘Can I have my cats back please?’, promising him I’d wear a mask or something so he didn’t catch my lurgy whilst we did the exchange.
And he, bless his heart, not wanting me to be alone, immediately came over with my boys and his lunch ingredients and cooked it here, whilst I hid in the bedroom and tried not to heave at the smell of goose fat roast potatoes. He even offered me a portion of it, which for BM was a big deal as, like another big hunk of Italian manhood, he was not good at parting with his food.
And as I shivered with fever on the sofa in my jammies, my head in his lap, this song came on TV, and our eyes met, and we smiled sadly at each other.
‘I probably love you; well, I know I do love you. Y’know?’ he remarked staring back at the TV screen vacantly.
And we had as merry a Christmas as a virus stricken, pallid, nauseous middle aged woman and a fucked up 40 going on 14 year old man could have that day, just hugging and silently acknowledging the hopelessness of it all.
About six months later he met someone, fell in love and we drifted apart. But to this day, he texts me every Christmas day and every New Years Eve to wish me seasons greetings and all the best for the new year to come, and a little candle flames in my heart when I open them, soppy cow that I am.
I have no regrets that we parted. It was never going to work out between us, and he’s probably the first ex in recent years that I wish no ill will, so if he’s found happiness with his new lady, that’s fine by me. The time we had together was explosive, passionate, frustrating, hilarious, gut wrenching and beyond exasperating. But there were periods between the storms that were tender, gentle, touching and so full of a different kind of love, one that I was not used to, that it left me forever a changed woman.
Whatever the future holds for either of us, I think a little part of Christmas will always belong to me and BM and it’s unlikely that his memory will be usurped. Besides, I think I’ve used up all of my dating lives so to speak, and to settle for mediocre after the men I’ve loved and who have loved me with such passion, would be an insult to both them and myself. Or maybe I’m just too frightened to hope.
I can’t help but feel that I’ll be lonely this Christmas and every Christmas that follows, but I’ll just have to wait and see what Santa has in his sack come December won’t I?
In the meantime, as George Benson sang, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all, and if I can do that, anything’s possible.