Hearts and Houses

It was the day of the premier of the Return of the King in Wellington (Dec 1 ’03, I think, the day before Jane’s 43rd birthday). Town was packed. It was hot. Jane and I had a picnic at Breaker Bay. We sat in the sand and sun, contemplating our relationship. Jane said “I don’t really know whether I’m suited to someone until I’ve shared a bathroom with them”.

I waxed locquacious and illustrated my story with pebbles and driftwood.

When we have a small connection, I said, choosing a tiny smooth sun-warmed stone, we act on it. I placed tiny twig above the stone to be coffee or some email or conversation. If it goes well, the love between us, embryonic as it is, grows a little. A slightly larger stone. On the strength of that, we build a miniscule facsimile of a house. A slightly larger twig, smoothed by sea and sand. With the smaller attraction and action as foundations, our emerging interest spurs some new risk-taking, maybe dinner or a movie.

Again, if this goes well, a further stirring occurs in the limbic system. Two heads touch, share a pillow. There are now six objects in the sand, counted by the slanting sun. The sixth, the largest stick representing the first campsite for the new couple. Resting together here feels like a homecoming, our eyes open to each others’ and dwell, seeing and being seen flowing.

I feel a twinge of fear, disappear into myself a little, consider making an exit, reach down for something solid and it is there, the flimsy temporary marital home in which this love scene takes place. It holds me and I reopen my eyes. You are there, softening gently in about the same way as me, warming…

By this time on the beach, the matter of houses was gaining increasing significance between Jane and me. Jane was on the brink of substantial alterations at Jeypore st. She announced their cancellation on 8 Dec 03. A kind of anti-house, in that case but all the more potent for it, with architect’s plans, finance, digger, driver and hiab to lower them in all poised.

While those houses provide a container that protects new love as it grows, they also provide walls that keep it in.

Jane declared that she was willing to make the move to Christchurch, to put bathroom and kitchen sharing to the test. I demurred but agreed to a shared summer holiday. That was a project enough. Elsie, Ed and I arrived at Spinsterworld with our ribald mess. Then we overloaded Jane’s “granny car” and had her drive us to Auckland. There we plunged Jane into family Christmases, first at my father Tyl’s and then at a grand gathering of my stepmother Janet’s extended family. Straight on from that another day long drive in the capsule and then five days with my friends on Wainui beach in Gisborne, and Hautanoa and Waima up the coast. Love pulsing all the way.

On the first of January, 2004, I lay in a tent with Jane, gulped as quietly as I could and said “yes”.

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