affair ground

A long five months ago our Hammersmith pub conversation opened up with “How do you KNOW?”  or “can you ever know, that somebody is The One?”  Doesn’t it always degenerate, get tired and dull, don’t you always end up boring one another?

After which he’d crumbled.  He told me how he was having an affair with a girl in the office, who he was crazy about.  He explained how he was cheating on his wife of a year, which was horrible and hateful but he couldn’t help it, and how the other girl herself was also married.

Now, a long five months later he told how he’d allowed the affair to turn his life upside down.  A divorce was proceeding, although he said he wasn’t really reading the letters, and he’d not only moved in with the new woman, they also were moving back to her native America after a month travelling in Thailand over Christmas.

His ex-wife was heartbroken and had wanted reconciliation even after everything became known.  Her father had visited him at his workplace and tried to persuade him to try again, even speaking of sex and how such things can dwindle but men have ways of coping, other outlets.

My friend rejected this.  He liked the other girl.  He loved her in fact, and no longer loved the woman he’d married.  This was difficult for them to accept and he received hate email, both from her and from her sisters.

In a separate, dark twist his new partner’s husband died suddenly, overnight.  A verdict is still pending.

The original concealment of the affair from his wife was less forgivable, but the manner with which he followed his heart (I can find no less trite way of saying it), grasped a very painful nettle and dared to change his life; I found it peculiarly admirable.

We spoke briefly in the South Kensington pub, before his new partner arrived to join us, about fear and self-doubt, our shared concern of boring people eventually.

If you’re seeing someone younger with plenty of those exciting 20-something years ahead of them – years when they’ll do exciting new things, go to novel or exotic places and meet interesting cool people – how can you not worry that you won’t stand up?  You will appear jaded, lazy and uninteresting, old.  You will eventually bore.  It’s a risk, like everything is.  Like “How Do You Know?”  You don’t, you can’t.

She arrived in the South Kensington pub after about half an hour: pretty, blonde and slightly nervous of me (as he’d admitted to me beforehand that she was – not having met any of his friends before).  He’d been attracted by her quirky creative bent, her desire to make her own clothes and her practicality, the fact she wasn’t a girly girl.  None of that came across.

We spoke of the Interpol concert they were heading to from here, how I’d heard good reports and there was a favourable review in the newspaper.  From the half hour spent, my impression was positive.  She appeared like someone who’d over-lived for 25, had many things happen including the possibly premature first marriage.

I left the couple to head south of the river to my work function, pleased for them and their convictions – more his than hers? – perversely envious of their dramatic, romantic year, sad I might never see them again.

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