God, I was a bastard. I was sitting in my car at the traffic lights and I saw her crossing the road. Its been, what 20 years since I last laid eyes on her, or even spoke to her for that matter. Her, being the woman I slept with – the only one - and I fucked her up, emotionally speaking that is.
Christina, descended from good Croation stock, had deeply set brown eyes, the twinkly kind and a sensual mouth meant for deep kisses. How I used to love running my hands through her glorious mane of chestnut coloured hair and losing myself in her womanly figure - her large breasts and tiny waist. She’s grown old gracefully.
When our paths first crossed I was emotionally unstable and not quite right in the head. I thought she would be able to fix me, help me to become a better balanced person. Funny how we can look back and see our lives divided up into little chapters. The wisdom of hindsight.
I was a forty five, a loud and proud gay man and I’d come back to Auckland to sort my shit out. I’d just finished my first stint in rehab and they teach you there to have a good long look at yourself and try to work out what triggers your behaviour. To stay sober you have to change the way you think and the way you do things. You also have to find a power greater than yourself – I’m still looking.
I’d bought a place in Ponsonby in the late 80’s when it was still affordable. We met because we were neighbours. Her front door was across the street directly opposite mine. I couldn’t help but become curious about her as I saw her comings and goings. I’d see her mowing the lawns in her frock and gum boots, taking her kids to soccer, bringing in the groceries, going for a run. I’d know when she had guests and when she was alone. We never really spoke other than the odd wave or hi as neighbours do – we had nothing much in common. But I found myself intrigued by her and the urban family way of life. So unlike my single homosexual life style. Of course I had friends who were married but her life appeared to me like a mini soap opera going on across the road. I’d imagine what she was doing, what her family were eating, where her husband was. Between AA meetings and the reconciliation with family and old friends, I didn’t have much else going on in my life.
We had our first conversation when I reversed out of my drive at the same time she did and we crashed into each – the cars weren’t damaged but we had to laugh at the situation. So we got chatting and I really liked her. She invited me into her house – I remember being excited – you see people and their houses but never what’s going on inside. Hers was a real family home, chocka block full or things – sports equipment, computers, books and art. I loved it all. She offered me a stiff drink – I declined. She rolled a joint to calm her nerves – unexpected. I didn’t let on I was in rehab and I quietened the urge to join her. We sat out in her garden, chatting and we got on like a house on fire. We discovered we had so much in common. We were born on the same day, same year. She also drank her coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar – no-one else I’d met did. She loved William Wordsworth and her favourite poem was “Wandered lonely as a cloud” just like mine, and we both loved to run. A key to me staying off the drugs and booze was to keep fit. Totally foreign to me but something I’d come to rely on which kept me sane as well. Just the odd run every now and then. It was one of those days that stay with you – a perfect autumns day holding so much promise. I can still feel it.