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three little (big) words

December 22, 2010

I don’t remember how it happened. The shift. I had said the words. I had said I love you. But they’d felt awkward leaving my mouth. Spoken with a tongue tied and marbles in my cheeks and eyes averted as if I was telling him some deep, dark, shameful secret. The words were wrapped in a thin layer of shyness because, you see, I had not said them to a man, in that way, for a long time. They were new to me, unfamiliar, and I needed to get to know them again before inviting them in, let alone saying them in a way they deserved to be heard. Words like that should be sitting at the edge of one’s mouth, ready to leap, to burst forth from a heart beating so hard that it pushes them over the edge.

However, in my case, not only were they timid, they were triple coated in an ultra-thick-anti-scratch protective layer. It was I love you with a disclaimer (if I say this to you, do you promise to hold these three precious words in the cups of your hands like fragile little eggs?) It was I love you with a  string attached (he couldn’t go very far without me yanking it back and claiming it as my own).

You see, my love was chained to a villain. And the name of the villain was (as it usually is) fear. Fear that if, indeed, I fell madly in love there would be consequences, huge decisions, a big ass literal leap of faith across an entire ocean. The what if hung heavily.  The what if whispered to me in the middle of the night… what if he hurts you? Or worse, what if, once he gets to know you, he stops loving you? It is this odious what if that kept me from opening up entirely to him, that kept my heart ajar and poised to close shut at the slightest hint of danger.  Because the thing is, once you open up, fully & completely, you become vulnerable. And nobody likes to be vulnerable. It goes against our very basic survival instincts. But to love is to be vulnerable and it appears I still had some shit to sort out in that department before I could even begin to truly love again. It’s as if my emotional baggage had been stuck at security and scanned for restricted restrictive items: fear, doubt, mistrust. All were present in much larger quantities than allowed. I was way over the weight limit and I’d have check these items if I were to carry on with this relationship.

And so. I did. Finally.

Somewhere on the corner of Beak and Lexington in London. I haven’t a clue what happened but the sodding what if finally took a flying hike. It went something like this…

My first day in London was spent with Leonie and her lovely Nic. They picked me up and sorted me out like travel elves, like airline angels sent from heaven, like the world’s best personal assistants. Sim card filled and replaced, money withdrawn, coffee consumed, oyster card topped up, express ticket from Heathrow so generously purchased and my big ass suitcase hauled by Nic from Heathrow to King’s Cross unto the bus to Newington and up 3 flights of stairs to Joe’s flat. Everyone should be so lucky.  Nic had breakfast with us at The Book Club then headed off to do his thing while us girls did ours, which involved traipsing around London, drinking loads of espresso, popping into shops and photobooths, and generally talking each other’s ears off as girls are wont to do. It was strange to be in London, so close to the British Boy and yet not be able to see him (the poor man had to work). But before I knew it, the sun had set and we were seated at Fernandez and Wells with Nic, eating roasted jalapenos and enjoying a couple glasses of wine, waiting for Joe to arrive.

Around 5pm, I received this text: “Agent JC. Your mission is to convince Leonie that this message is an advert from O2 (your service provider). Say you are going to the loo and meet me round the corner in 1 minute outside alphabet. Turn right out of café. Go.”

Fib, I did not (besides, exuberance was written all over my face and one is hardly that excited at the thought of going to the loo). Instead, I flat out told Nic and Leonie that I had to run down the street to give my man a proper welcome kiss (the kind that lingers and nobody wants to be privy to that… though the whole of London was). It was  somewhere on the corner of Beak and Lexington, during that interminable kiss, that the what if left me and was replaced with a knowing YES. I fell in love, truly, right there. And now, of course, I can hardly stop myself from saying the words. They bubble up from somewhere deep inside me and expand in my chest and if I don’t let them out, I feel I might burst. I assure you this letting go is far more rewarding than locking love up and hording it on the offchance that someone might hurt it. Because when it’s set free, it grows, it grows.

I struggled with how to write this and subsequent posts. I asked a friend upon my return from England: “Do I write about what this trip meant to me or do I write it as a travel journal?” She said, just start writing and see what happens. And that is what I did. So there you have it. A peek at the complicated machinery that is my heart.

Still, my love of travel prevails and I do wish to share with you the details of my trip, because England? OMG. So beautiful. I love the English countryside and finally understand what all the great poets were going on about. England has an understated romance. Rome and Paris? It’s romance in your face (not that there’s anything wrong with that). England’s romance is more pink and less crimson, if that makes any sense? Softer. Somewhere over the rolling green hills, in the small villages with the stone barns, the thatched cottages, the single lane roads lined with poplar trees, the town pubs and churches… you get the sense that the earth always smells of lily of the valley, that there is always a bird singing, that it is eternal spring.

So much happened between the moment I landed at Heathrow airport and the day I left, when, eyes stained red, the man at Passport control asked me “Are you alright, Miss? You look like you’ve been crying?” Everyone knows that if you show the broken hearted the least bit of sympathy, a mysterious thing happens. It’s as if kindness is a trigger for tears. More tears. So I replied, a bit of a mess “Yes. It’s just that I’m going to miss England soooo (sobbing) soooo much“. And he said the best thing he could have possibly said: “It’s ok, Miss. You can always come back.

I intend to. Home is where the heart is. And mine is somewhere in England.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” — C.S. Lewis

25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2010 9:57 am

    i’m so happy for you sister, you deserve to love and be loved. xo

  2. December 22, 2010 10:06 am

    omg… i’m like, tearing up. i feel so happy for you, j. xo

  3. December 22, 2010 10:23 am

    Sigh…and sniffle! So so wonderful!!!

  4. December 22, 2010 11:19 am

    bloody hell, now you’ve got ME weeping.

  5. December 22, 2010 1:09 pm

    I am gutted we didn’t get to meet up when you were here. Lets makes amends next time. We have SO much to talk about. For realz xxx

  6. December 22, 2010 1:10 pm

    Oh boy, tears of course from a romantic like me. You describe falling in love so beautifully, your words are perfect. X.

  7. Ashley Erin permalink
    December 22, 2010 2:07 pm

    I’m getting all teary eyed reading this. I’m so happy for you!

    Also, that guy at the passport desk deserves a chocolate for that most wonderful of lines.

    I hope you have an excellent and very merry Christmas!

  8. December 22, 2010 2:21 pm

    so sweet, so fragile and fresh this beautiful feeling. may it forever stay within your heart.

    happy happiness sweet one.

  9. December 22, 2010 2:30 pm


  10. December 22, 2010 2:50 pm

    ahh i must say i literally just stumbled upon your blog and i was so drawn in by your words in this entry. so beautifully written i couldn’t tear myself away. way to seriously tug at my heartstrings!!

    and to top it off, such lovely photos!

  11. December 22, 2010 3:36 pm

    Thank you for the afternoon vacation! Through your gift of words, I was standing there on the corner of Beak and Lexington (maybe you saw me?) watching this magic unfold. A second later I was tearing up with you, saying goodbye.

    So happy for you, J. Sending you an email…

  12. December 22, 2010 5:55 pm

    That’s the best thing I’ve read in forever. Where are the damn kleenexes?

  13. December 22, 2010 6:02 pm

    oh man – those are the BEST kind of kisses 🙂 xo

  14. December 22, 2010 10:48 pm

    You have shared your story so beautifully. It all sounded magical…

  15. Josefina permalink
    December 23, 2010 8:27 am

    Such a lovely post Jeanine, I am so happy for you. I can’t wait to fall in love like this, like the way you just described. Cheers!

  16. Honey permalink
    December 23, 2010 4:09 pm

    Jeanine…so beautiful. And that C.S. Lewis quote is one for the books as well. You gave both my head and heart a proper thump today. My word for 2011 is LOVE. I especially love that you are a torchbearer for it. Keep the candle burning in the window as a reminder to the rest of us that love is all there is.

  17. December 23, 2010 9:56 pm

    and as if i wasn’t already completely smitten with you.

    this is the best story ever. i am filled with hope, renewal, and pure love for your love and for your willingness to share it. we need it. we really really do.

  18. December 23, 2010 10:04 pm

    You *know* how I feel about you coming back to London.

    Your words are poetry. So glad you fell in love (for realz).

    Sending you love from NZ

  19. December 24, 2010 6:41 am

    So beautiful … I will read and re-read this lovely post again and again.
    The heart is a beautiful thing and when it finds a home it truly becomes complete.

  20. December 25, 2010 12:33 am

    Thanks for sharing and helping me remember how it was… I am so happy for you!

    Merry Christmas!

  21. December 27, 2010 9:34 pm

    Bursting with joy at reading this post. It makes me so damn happy!

  22. December 29, 2010 7:49 pm

    beautiful. xo

  23. January 2, 2011 7:25 pm

    you were brave. it takes bravery to love. ❤

  24. January 3, 2011 10:26 pm

    Lovely. Just lovely.


  1. beautiful words + wondering: : {my topography}

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