I was recovering from a bad fall and was on crutches when I first met him. I can't say for sure if it was love at first sight, or just my imagination, but he asked me out on a date.
His name was Paul. He was tall, with straight dark hair, and olive skin that made him look like he'd just stepped out of a plane from a holiday in the sun.
The initial plan had been to meet up in the city and go to a nice romantic restaurant – my idea. Well, the bad weather put paid to that hence we had to go with plan B. Paul would drive to my place, pick me up around 7pm and we’d go to a local eating place - nowhere romantic. Better than no dinner at all - I consoled myself.
Now for the best part. He called me up before lunch and said… wait for it …
Before he spoke I looked outside. It was snowing heavily. I mean it was serious snow. A real blizzard. I sat there thinking – OK, let’s hear it. Another cancellation, another excuse.
"I’m sorry but the weather is really terrible. It would be dangerous to drive in the dark."
I sighed heavily and braced myself.
"I’m sorry but I’ll have to come a lot earlier than planned. Is it OK if I get there before 3.00pm?"
That's when I let out the breath I hadn't realised I'd been holding in. Well, I definitely didn’t have a problem with him coming early. But at that point I hadn’t even showered or washed my hair. You should have seen me. I moved like lightning on those crutches. Pain took second priority as I got myself ready.
When the doorbell rang, I was ready. Since we weren't going anywhere fancy I threw on a pair of jeans and a nice top. It took only seconds to realise that actually we wouldn’t be going anywhere at all because the weather was bad. How he'd made it to my place was an absolute wonder. Later, he told me that he grew up in an area that had snow blizzards like 6 feet high. So to him it was bad, yes but not enough to stop him driving to my place.
For safety reasons we opted to stay indoors and chat. When I went into the kitchen to get us something to eat he told me to sit down and put my feet up. He brought me a nice cup of hot tea then went back into the kitchen to prepare dinner. My heart skipped a beat. Not because I was falling in love – OH NO! I’d already told myself no more silly infatuations or crushes. No man would have my heart again unless I really knew what I was getting into. I was going to go slowly and carefully into the next relationship, if there ever was one.
Back to dinner. I hardly had any food in the house – I mean – staying in had not been in the plan now had it? So, what was the man going to prepare?
He quickly put a simple meal together – which was lovely. I apologised for the lack of food and he offered to take me to the supermarket to stock up, which he did (in that snow). He prepared another meal on our return and wouldn’t let me help.
I found out why when he announced that dinner was ready. He'd turned off the lights in the dining room and lit two red candles. He pulled the chair out for me and helped onto it before taking his seat, and pouring me a glass of Merlot.
Somewhere between the first sip and the last drop of the wine we both knew we wanted to be together. It was like a hand fitting perfectly into a glove, like peaches and cream. Paul couldn’t wait to tell the world. It was as if he had won the lottery. I remember sitting there thinking , "Oh my God – I didn’t know guys get as excited about these things as we do!"
Within 24 hours he had announced our relationship on Facebook and uploaded pictures. As you know, there is absolutely no quicker way to get the word round. Within hours we were receiving congratulations and invitations from friends and family from all over the world. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy. I came alive. I really did.
Paul and I spend as much time as we can together, particularly at the weekend. He buys me flowers, chocolate. He really looks after me. He says things like - You’re not used to having things done for you, are you? He won’t even let me push the trolley at the supermarket saying - You’ve got a man to do that for you, remember!
At the weekend he lets me lie in so he can give me breakfast in bed. We go shopping together, watch movies, read books, go for long country drives and stop at quaint little cafes for latte and chocolate fudge cake. We listen to music. He likes R&B like me. He likes the Sunscreen Song. It’s a fun song but has a message, and also The Missing Piece, and The Giving Tree. We play games, we experiment with food and just have fun.
One weekend he shot a pheasant, hung it for a week then cooked it for our dinner. It was delicious. I tasted oysters for the first time when he bought them for me. Afterwards he washed the shells. I have them displayed in my living room.
He gives me the most amazing massages using special oils containing ginger. Other times he does my nails – full manicure and painting them.
One Friday he called me to say he’d pick me up from work and he wasn’t using the car. I need to mention here that I used to hate motorbike riders with a passion. I hated how they would weave in and out of traffic and sometimes just appear from nowhere totally taking you by surprise. That Friday would be my first ride on it. I could not see myself riding a bike for a whole 20 miles! NO! I made excuses and used the train instead. Even when he offered to pick me up from the tube station, as he normally does, I found an excuse.
We normally go food shopping on Friday evenings so there was no way I was going to escape. Later that evening I had my first experience. It wasn’t bad. By the end of the weekend I was a seasoned bike passenger – leaning when he leaned etc. It’s a skill. I felt really cool when people watched us putting on our helmets and jumping on the bike. I now totally respect bike riders. Infact, I even check out what kind of bike they’re riding – like I used to check out makes and models of cars!
Sometimes we’ll be walking and people will say, what a lovely couple." He loves that. If I put my hands in my pockets as we walk he’ll say, "Hey, I’m missing something," and I’ll say "What?" and he’ll say, "Your hand." He prefers to hold my hand and put it in his coat pocket.
One morning, a couple of weeks ago he took me to the tube station as usual. Before he got out of the car to open the door for me he pulled out a package and said, "I believe this is yours." I began to say no but he silenced me as he handed me a jewellery box containing a beautiful silver wrist watch.
Now you’re probably thinking gosh he sounds wonderful. He is, but he is human so not perfect. We don’t always agree on things and then he’ll say, "Sweetheart, please don’t argue with me". When I ask him why not he’ll say, "Because you’ll win!!!"
Unless, of course, he gives me a glass of Merlot.