Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

How I Met Your Father (part four)

* Part four of our love story. Part three | Part two | Part one*


"Hi, you are back!" I beamed, and he gave me a bear hug, leaving me slightly breathless. After gazing into each other's eyes for maybe just a tad too long, Richard made introductions. It was his friend Wilhelm's first trip to Canada, and he had come well prepared: He had brought along a first-aid kit the size of a small village, read as many books as he could find about survival in the wilderness, and had taken preparatory riding lessons at home. When he proudly told me that he had bought a poop swing (a contraption to be hung in a tree so you had support when squatting down for a poop), I was smug in the knowledge that my two-week headstart in Canada had given me a superior edge in regards to living in the wilderness. I was an old hand compared to him!

However, as it turned out he was an incredibly gifted guitar player. "He has a band at home, and they are actually really good." Richard informed us, and as soon as Rose heard that she jumped into her car, announcing that she was going to borrow a guitar from one of the neighbours.
I was excited: One more element of my vacation fantasy was about to come true: singing songs around the camp fire! By the time Rose returned with the guitar we had started a fire, the boys had brought out drinks and the mood was decidedly festive.
Wilhelm was as good as promised. He could play any song you requested, and if he didn't know it, he could pick it up by simply listening to it once or twice.

So here we were: Sitting around the camp fire, listening to Wilhelm sing and play under a canopy of twinkling stars in the Wild West of Canada. Richard's eyes found mine often, as did mine his, and we smiled stupidly at each other. It was utterly romantic.

Matt Jones Photography







A couple of hours later we were all getting ravenously hungry, and Rose ushered us into the kitchen where she threw a few steaks into the frying pan and started to make a salad. Richard and I were sitting next to each other, and watching Rose prepare dinner must have given him an idea. "Didn't you tell me that you three want to go camping next week?"
That was true. The week before, following Richard around with a glass of juice all day, I had mentioned that our time at Rose's ranch was coming to an end soon. Anne and Bernd would be finished with their six-week practicum in less than a week, and they had decided to take off and go exploring for a few weeks. I was invited to tag along, and had happily accepted. However, we had absolutely no camping equipment whatsoever, just a vague plan of "roughing it" and buying only the absolute necessities.

Richard had remembered that conversation. Now he asked: "I have some pots and pans in the camper. You can have them if you want! Do you want to take a look?" Silly question. Did I want to get away from the crowd and have some alone-time with him? "Sure, sounds good!" I answered, and we both got up and went out.

Once outside we were both quiet. My heart started hammering, and I felt suddenly nervous - what now? He led me to the camper, and I dutifully peered inside, trying to locate the pots, when he suddenly pulled me towards him and kissed me.

At first I was startled.
Then I was exhilarated.
And then I kissed him back.

"I've been wanting to do this ever since I met you", he murmured into my hair, and happiness spread through my body like a warm glow. "Nobody has ever looked at me like you do."
"How am I looking at you?" I whispered back, gazing up at him.
"Like I mean something to you." He did, oh how he did. I felt strangely tongue-tied though, unable to put my overwhelming and confusing feelings into words, so I nodded silently.

"Let's go for a walk!" he said, and took my hand. We strolled through the night, the warm air caressing us, talking quietly, laughing, kissing.

We spent that night under the stars. It sounds romantic, and it was, apart from two small, yet very important details: One, I needed to pee, but didn't know how to bring it up - there wasn't exactly a bathroom next door I could discreetly use. The thought to pee right there, in front of him, was unthinkable, so I held it in for as long as I could - which, as you know, is a decidedly unromantic predicament to be in. Two, we laid down in the freshly mowed field, with the stubby straw nubs scratching our backs and behinds.
My butt didn't recover for two weeks.

As it grew colder we moved into the horse trailer, where we both snuggled up together in his one sleeping bag. I had managed to pee (it had reached the critical point where I didn't care anymore, and I had ducked behind the trailer), so we fell asleep quickly, arm in arm.

The next day was a valuable lesson - and a peek into the future - of how life would be for us for a while: There was judgement from the others, which made me feel terrible; there was Richard, who made me feel weak-kneed, a bit self-conscious and giddy; and there was a horseback ride with Richard and Wilhelm, which was so fun and made me feel so alive that I was sure anything was possible.

Before they left, Richard and I went for a walk one more time. My feelings were complicated to say the least: I was incredibly sad that he was leaving.
Then he told me that "I think I love you, Miriam - what I'm feeling for you is love" - and I was incredibly happy, yet also sceptical.
Then he asked me for "all your numbers, so I can find you", and I felt loved, cherished and hopeful.

And then he was gone. He had given me his cell and home numbers as well, now my most priced possessions.

I remained in Canada for three more weeks, and it was great: I met more people, saw a family of Grizzly bears, experienced the best side of Vancouver, fell even more in love with Canada. But I didn't manage to get a hold of Richard, and that depressed me a great deal. I tried his cell number numerous times, but the English computer voice was always trying to tell me something that I didn't understand. (Later I learned that I had not grasped the Canadian long distance/local calls system at all, and had repeatedly dialled the number wrong. To add insult to injury, he also happened to work in a dead cell zone that week. Figures.)
I convinced myself that he had given me the wrong numbers, which I should have expected: after all, he was married.

Somehow, though, I doubted it. Could he have been such a convincing liar? Could he really have faked his love and affection for me? I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it.

The day I left was suitably grey. I wandered around the airport aimlessly, killing time, looking around surreptitiously. Okay, I admit it: I was hoping he would be there. I had told him the day of my departure, and I still clung to the vision of a fairytale ending: Him running towards me, bending down on one knee, declaring his eternal love for me.

Maudlin last picture taken at the airport. I quite revelled in my role as tragic heroine. 

But, no dice for me. I eventually gave up, went through security, and boarded the plane. My romantic adventure had ended.

(But wait, dear readers, here is an amusing twist to the story: It turns out Richard did show up at the airport. He didn't know himself what he was going to do; all he knew was that he wanted to see me. 
However, he searched for me at International Departures; silly me had neglected to mention that I was flying to Toronto first, thus being at National Departures. Oops - rookie mistake.)

Being back home was weird. I was happy to see my family, but didn't really know how to tell them about my six-week trip. My words seemed inadequate - how could I make them understand that I was a changed person? But most of all, I was sad. Sad about never seeing him again.

On my second day home, after wandering restlessly through my parent's house for several hours, I decided to bake a cake. I had just put it in the oven when the phone rang. We didn't have call display, so I had no idea who the caller was.

Me: "Miriam Kratzert" (That's what we do in Germany when answering the phone: say our first and last name. Yes, that's my maiden name.)
Caller: "Miriam? Is that you?"
Me: stunned silence 
Caller: "Hello?"
Me: "Richard???"
Caller: "Yes, it's me! Why didn't you call me?"
Me, sitting down because suddenly my legs wouldn't support me any longer: "I can't believe it's you! I tried to call you, but you gave me the wrong number. I thought you did it on purpose because you didn't want me to contact you!"
Richard: "I didn't give you the wrong number! When you didn't call I thought you weren't interested. What happened?"

The conversation continued like this for a while, until we had it figured out: He had indeed given me the correct number. I, however, was apparently too dumb to make a simple phone call, and had either punched the number in wrong, gotten voice mail (which I didn't understand) or had him out of cell range. You have to understand how nervous I was every single time before picking up the phone - I had to gather up all my courage, and got more defeated every time I didn't get through.

But who cared, that was water under the bridge now. He had called! "I need to see you again. I can't get you out of my head, I miss you! What do you say if I come to Germany?" I was speechless again. "You would do that?"
"Of course! Okay, let me think for a sec. It's September now - I could get away next month for a couple of weeks. How about it?"
I said yes. What else could I do?

From that moment on he called me every single day and we talked for hours. We got to know each other in those phone calls, and became ever closer.
On the day of his arrival I got up in the middle of the night for the four-hour drive to the airport. I dressed comfortably for the drive, but stopped at a rest stop close to the airport to get changed into my only skirt I owned at the time and heels.

God, I was nervous. Excited beyond description, but so nervous I felt nauseous. I had arrived way too early and paced up and down, unable to sit still.

And then I saw him. Still far away, with hundreds of people between us, our eyes found each other. We simultaneously broke into huge smiles, and the world around us faded into the background. Nothing else mattered but the two of us. He looked me up and down, nodding approvingly at my choice of outfit, with me self-consciously tugging on the hem of my skirt (I wasn't used to wearing dresses or skirts back then).

When he finally stood in front of me we fell into each other's arms, tears in our eyes. "I'm so happy you are here." "I'm so happy to be here.", we told each other over and over.
At this moment, nothing else mattered.

Read the final part here.

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7 comments

  1. I am literally "awww"-ing in my dorm room right now! This is so romantic! I don't even...can't even...just awwww <3 Every time I read another part of your love story my heart melts a little more for you two. What a perfect story! (Need to pee aside haha). Simply incredible :)
    ~ Samantha

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  2. I've never even heard of a poop swing. I'm also not that into camping so that might be why :) You talked everyday...wow! This is such a wild story to me...you guys truly listened to your hearts. I'm so headstrong I'm not sure I could/would have ever been able to give into love at first sight. All the logistics seem so daunting :) The whole story just leaves me in awe of it all.

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  3. This isn't the final installment right?? You have to keep going - at least until the proposal. :)

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    1. It's not, I'm working on the final one now! :-)

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  4. So I just went back and read all of the installments from the beginning. You are a great writer! This is a fun story. You are ridiculously brave heading off on your own like that, especially to a new continent where you didn't know the language very well! I do have a question: did you ask or talk about his wife at all? It just would make me confused if I knew someone was married but declaring love for me. I guess that's why you thought he gave you the wrong number. (I'm assuming/hoping there will be more installments of this story so we can read to the end like Amy said !)

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    1. Oh yes, he talked about her and his marriage at lot. It may seem like we went into this without thinking, but we actually didn't go into this lightly. If our feelings wouldn't have been so strong, neither one of us would have risked it.
      Their marriage had been unhappy for a very long time, and meeting me was simply the last straw. No happy marriage can be broken up that easily!
      His ex has been in a great relationship for years, and they are both much happier now than they were when they were together.
      And yes, there will be a final installment! Our story is not over yet.

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  5. So scandalous! But I just love it! Your story truly is what love is all about!
    -Linds

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