Well, it happened.
We had broken up so many times, and this was different. It tasted different. I could feel the bitterness of the closure in my mouth when he looked at me for the last time and closed the door behind him, and yet, even feeling so lost at the time, if it weren't for this, I wouldn't have found myself.
There was always a part of me missing, but I kept thinking he would fulfill it. I always thought it was him. I decided I had to change. Maybe I could become those girls from the books I read, filled with self-love and empowerment. I wasn't anything like that, I depended on him as if he was the air that kept me alive. But he had left, and I was still breathing, painfully, yes, but breathing. So I had to try, try to find within me the person that was long gone.
If I could at least leave the house that had every inch filled with memories of us, it would be easier. I couldn't stand the smell of the sheets, the pillows still creased from the last night we slept at the same bed, not together. It was too painful just being there.
I cried for one week, scrolling endlessly through your social media, divided between attempting to forget you ever existed and acting like a detective trying to find out who was following you, or who you had followed. Creating imaginary connections that only made sense in my mind and served the sole purpose of driving me mad.
In between my reveries, an Airbnb ad popped up, and I instantly remembered New Forest, the place I'd wanted to go to for a long time, trying to find any occasion to escape our painful dragged relationship. Either for our 5th year anniversary or my 30th birthday. But you also took that away from me. "I don't like nature that much," "I think we should do something else," "I'm too busy now to go." Well, so I would go alone, I would for the first time follow my instincts, not my heart, as that one had been following you for too long.
New Forest was a 1:50h drive from London, I felt I had to go. It could be my chance to find something that was long gone. I decided I would open Airbnb and click on the first place that appeared to me. This was me trying to ask the universe to be on my side, because I read in some book that we could manifest whatever we wished for, and this was the time to put this into practice.
Rose, the Gipsy Wagon, was the name of the first location in New Forest that popped up on the Airbnb list, and I couldn't believe it. This serendipitous location not only had my name, Rose but was the perfect place to be the girl I longed for, this nomadic free-spirit wandering around life, going wherever it took me. And even better, it wasn't a proper house, but a room inside a renovated wagon.
The description read:
"A beautifully restored 1885 Showmans wagon she is now being offered as part of our quirky guest accommodation - she is for those with a spirit of adventure, looking for something comfortable and cozy, yet totally different!"
By reading those words, I could hear my adventurer spirit trapped by the shadow of a man crying for freedom, so I would give it.
The wagon was inside a house located at the coastal village of Milford on Sea, on the edge of the New Forest. Nature and ocean, peace and a beautiful wagon that had my name, this was destiny's helping hand. I decided I wouldn't tell anyone. This would be my escape from reality and into myself. I booked the wagon for one week, got my car, packed my bags, dried my tears, and closed the door behind me, the same he had closed a week before.
The drive was smooth. I played only my favorite songs and sang them all out loud. Sometimes, one of his favorites or "our" favorites would play, and I would listen to them as an exorcism, thinking about him leaving my body, my mind, and my heart.
The time went by fast, and I arrived at my destination. I parked my car and was greeted by Lana, the host. She told me I was the only guest that would be staying for the week as this was off-season, but said I could always come to her house if I needed anything; she or her kids would be there, she said, pointing to the big house, and I could identify some silhouettes peeking from inside.
She walked me to the wagon and I was instantly in love. I climbed the wooden stairs that led to the tiny house which stood high above the ground with its original wheels lifting it from the floor. I closed the door behind me, feeling I was in another world. Velvet curtains framed large windows that sat peacefully above a large bed full of pillows. The wooden wagon had a low ceiling and delicate paintings on its walls. It felt like a hug, embracing me with its cozy and bucolic arms.
This was it. It was all I needed- my secluded space in the middle of nature, in this romantic house, my romance with myself. I looked at my reflect in the antique mirror hanging in the wagon's wall, and I forgave me. Forgave me for not looking to who I really was. To not thinking I was pretty, worthy, or lovable. I was pleased with who looked back at me. My curly hair in a loose ponytail was falling to the side, my reddish face that was once swollen from crying was serene, and I felt home wearing the sweater that belonged to my mum. This was my home, a home called me.
Around 5 pm I felt I needed a bottle of wine, but I wasn't ready to leave my sanctuary, not now. I had my book, and that would be my company, tomorrow I would think about the wine. Now I would make some tea. I always wanted to be the tea girl, especially being from London, but it was never my thing. But this could change, right?
I looked at the cupboards and found teas, coffees, and biscuits. I sat on the bed with a hot cup of tea and devoured my book. The day became night, and I turned on the vintage oil lamps. My fianceé's, actually, my ex-fiancée's memory, was still there, lingering in the air, but I could feel something new coming around the corner, the hidden me trying to say hi. I was feeling hopeful.
Around 8 pm, everything changed. I was pulled out of my book's world by a knock at my door. It was so gentle that I almost didn't hear it. Who could it be? I couldn't see anything outside as the lights of the main house were a bit far, and the oil lamps lit only inside my room. A few things crossed my mind, but I brushed them off. "Who is it?" I asked, but got silence in reply. I kept wondering what Lana would need from me at this time and got up to open the door.
To my surprise, no one was there, except a black bottle on the floor and two glasses. I looked closer at the label, a squared shape chessboard with a checkmate scene that read Silent Bishop Merlot. I was always a fan of wine labels, always trying to choose the perfect bottle by them, and this was a very peculiar one. Was this my manifestation again? Was I so powerful? I laughed at myself, but I was scared. Why would Lana leave a bottle of wine for me? And two glasses? Was she inviting herself?
I grabbed the bottle, and at the same time, a hand grabbed mine. I screamed! What was going on? My eyes looked up and locked eyes with the owner of the hand. Beautiful, gentle blue eyes looked back at me. She smiled.
"Who are you? What do you want?" I asked in shock.
"Hi, I'm so sorry to scare you! My name is Melody. I'm one of Lana's daughters. I work at a winery around here, and today was my day off, and I couldn't help but notice when you arrived. We hardly ever have someone from the city around, and I saw your car plaque. You're from London, right?"
"Yes... I am..." I said feeling a little uneasy. We were both standing up now, she on the last steps close to the door and me at the wagon's porch. I had to make a decision. I didn't want anyone to bother this moment, my moment. But on the other hand, I also wanted a glass of wine, and it could be good to have someone to talk to that didn't know who I was, didn't know anything about my past. I could pretend to be anyone I wanted, how powerful that felt.
"Do you want to come in?" I asked her and saw her eyes sparkle.
"Yes, I would love to!" she said, giving a beautiful smile. Her skin was slightly tanned as if she spent part of her time outdoors. She had freckles all over her face, which made her look sweet, and a dark freckle on the right corner of her mouth, which made her look sexy. I felt a hint of envy as I let her in, of her apparent freedom, her skin, her manners. The way she knocked at my door without being invited and the way she managed to get in.
She stood in silence as she opened the little foldable table next to the bed and put the glasses there. She opened the wine with a bottle opener from the drawer.
"Sorry for the mess," I said, talking about my mood. She couldn't possibly know I was talking about that. "Oh, please! The place looks neat! My mum would be proud if she saw it. This is a super cozy space; I love coming here when no one is around, reading some books, enjoying my me time," she said, pouring the red wine at the two glasses.
I sat at the bed, looking at her. She did everything effortlessly. Even her worn jeans, her striped socks (she had taken off her shoes before getting in), and her white knitted turtleneck seemed made just for her.
She handed me the glass. "Thanks for letting me in, and sorry for being rude!" she said as we toasted. "Cheers to opening doors," I said, and she smiled.
We talked for what could be hours, and I didn't see the time passing. Her stories were so compelling, I was getting more and more interested in the way she thought. I wanted to be just like her, and yet I couldn't have enough of her. We laughed, and we cried, talked about the past and the future. I told her a lot about me but never mentioned my ex-fiancé. I wanted to pretend he didn't exist.
She started talking about her life, about feeling she didn't belong here, about wanting to go somewhere far away, from herself maybe. "But you look so free, so careless," I said, looking at her. She got up and sat next to me at the bed. It didn't bother me that she was getting closer. By this time, we were already halfway through the Merlot bottle, and I was feeling connected to her, as if we had something in common, but I couldn't grasp what.
"Freedom is a strange concept. It means the state of not being imprisoned, and yet, even if we are walking freely in this world, our inner-self can be trapped behind bars. We can see outside, but we can't leave." She said.
"Do you feel trapped? How?" I asked her.
But she didn't reply. She leaned forward, and her lips caressed mine. I closed my eyes, and my head was spiraling. Was this really happening? Was she kissing me? I dropped the glass, and the rest of the wine spilled on the wooden floor. She drew back scared, maybe with the noise, but also with her attitude.
"I'm so sorry, so, so sorry," she said, getting up and looking for something to clean the floor. She opened and closed drawers nervously, not really looking for anything, trying to find somewhere to hide herself. My heart was beating fast, and I didn't quite understand what happened, but I knew what I had to do. I got up quickly and held her arm. "Stop, it's ok," I told her as she turned around to look at me.
Tears poured from her blue eyes. "I'm so ashamed!" she said, looking down. I held her chin up and looked her in the eyes. "It has been a long time since a girl has kissed me. I stored this memory in the depths of my consciousness, afraid of what it could mean. And I closed that drawer for good. What you just did, cracked a little piece of that wooden drawer, and light can now shine in. Maybe I also felt a bit trapped, and maybe, just maybe, you have the key to set me free."
We held each other's gaze for a few seconds, trying to decipher what this all meant. I didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I kissed her tenderly, and she kissed me back. We stood like this for a long time. Each being the key to the other's freedom.
If you like this story, don't forget to share your love by clicking on the little heart below.