She was fabulous. I remember telling myself that I could get used to all this, and hoped I would get the chance.
We said goodbye and I told her I’d give her a call soon.
It looked like I had a girlfriend.
I felt pretty good about the whole business so far. Pleased with myself. Smug even. Possibly dangerously smug, I warned myself, but it was very empowering to drive down the street with eyes only on the road for a change. Not bothering to even look at women walking by that I would previously have unashamedly checked out. I didn’t need to anymore. Because I had a girlfriend, I constantly congratulated myself. I wasn’t a loser after all. Not yet.
Anyway, a few days after the-weekend-of-two-dates I just felt like seeing her so I rang her up and asked if she had been watching The Life and Loves of a She-Devil miniseries that was concluding on the ABC that night. She had been. So how about if I came over and we watched it together? She was okay with that.
I arrived to find her Big Sister and her mum and dad sitting in the kitchen. We were introduced and chatted. Big sister left to go home soon after and her mum asked me what I’d done on my day off, which I’d taken to get my car’s electrical system fixed. At an exorbitant price, too.
Not much, I told her, but I’d spent the day at my folks’ place and had to walk past my old primary school on the way to and from the auto electrician’s and it seemed a lot smaller than I’d remembered it.
“And where was that?” she asked.
“Oh, St Somethingorother’s.”
“Really? But that’s where Big Sister and TLOML went to school!” she told me.
This was getting a bit coincidental.
We compared notes on years and it turned out that Big Sister had been in my Grade 4 class and I remembered her clearly. She was a very bright, articulate girl and hadn’t changed. I also remembered her two-years-younger sister, who at that age looked just like her. And her mum had taught both of my sisters at the local Girls High School. How about that for a freak out? These days we’d all be charged with stalking each other.
I searched my memory for recollections of the young TLOML and there were two: she had come in to our classroom after school to meet Big Sister on the way home and I can remember her dark hair in long plaits; and another time when Big Sister and TLOML were walking on one side of a tree-lined street and a mate and I were on the other. I’d called out to Big Sister and she’d pointed her nose in the air and kept walking. TLOML had looked across, looked back at Big Sister and then done the same in a gorgeous Little Sister kind of way.
Well, this was something. I had known my new girlfriend all along, without knowing it.
We watched the conclusion to the mini-series, which wasn’t all that good, but I had just wanted an excuse to see her. She told me much later that she hadn’t even heard of the Fay Weldon vengeance-themed blockbuster but just said that she had so I would come over. She’d then told her mum to forget about watching anything else and to play along.
Later that week, we arranged to meet at a pub with a whole crowd of colleagues and I can vividly remember chatting with some of them when TLOML arrived and came straight over to say hello. We kissed unselfconsciously, me whispering I’ve missed you into her ear. Aaww! She’d missed me too, she was polite enough to reply.
I can’t remember much about the rest of what must have been a very pleasant evening beyond the fact that it finished up with us together again back at the big old house on the hill.
Everything was going rather well. And it felt very natural, totally comfortable. She was really lovely, and her family was nice too.
Things couldn’t have been better.
And then I appeared to become seriously ill.