Saturday, July 11, 2015

Start at the Start

Hi

You have arrived at the end of this blog.

You probably want to start at the start, which you can do by clicking the button below.

Welcome!

Anne








































...




Saturday, March 7, 2015

Happy

When I started this blog, I was lost. Twenty-seven and laid off and moving back home - didn't sound like or feel like success.

Then I ran into my ex and got to watch him flirt with a 20 year old. I don’t think I was very honest here about how much that sucked. I tried to convince myself that I wasn't that bothered by it, but the reality was, it was torture. I felt like a failure and then watched the man I still loved ignore me and seemingly woo someone else - how could that be any worse? 

But somehow, I got through that and to the place where I am now…. With him at my side and an exciting, meaningful new venture on the horizon.

Is there a moral here? Is it to suck it up through the sucky times because you never know what the future holds? Is it something about second chances? I’m not sure.

But, I do know that my need for an anonymous journal is over. I think it’s time to close this and archive it. I’m ready to start a blog with my name on it and tell of my adventures more openly. I’m sad to end this blog - I hate endings, but I think it’s time.

I can’t thank you enough for reading, for being there for me, for asking nosy questions and caring. Thank you even for the tough love stuff that forced me to be more honest about what was really going on in my heart and head.

I am happy. I hope you find happiness too.

To close us out I've uploaded one last piano piece - see the video below.


 (For those who can't see the embeded video: click here!)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Promise

W is amazing. Normally I would hold back from gushing about my boyfriend, but I feel like you guys, having come along on part of this ride with me, will be interested.

We were at our cabin, which was lovely - a simple place with all the basics and a wood fireplace. We had the beach pretty much to ourselves every day. We would go for walks, get cold, and then return to the cabin to warm up by the fire. We talked about everything. He told me he saw a photo of me in the society section of the paper just before he went to Bath, from that party I went to with Elizabeth in her great dress. He said he actually choked on his coffee when he saw the photo (he’s not used to seeing me in slinky dresses). Then he pulled a folded up copy of the newspaper clipping from his wallet. Apparently a sexy dress is what it takes to get your spurned lover to give you a second chance; if only I had known that a few years ago.

We walked to the store one day to get some supplies and the store owner was talking to a friend about his internet connection troubles and how the company can’t send anyone out until next week. W offered to take a look and see if he can fix it. It was funny - the store owner was clearly skeptical, but we all went next door into the guy’s house where W spent twenty minutes fiddling with things and got it working again. The guy was so surprised and happy. He tried to waive our grocery bill but W told him to surprise someone in need and waive their bill instead. W thought nothing of this action - when I pointed out what a doubly nice thing he had just done, he was quiet for a minute and said “I have a good life and it costs me nothing to share it when I can. The world needs every bit of kindness it can get, doesn't it?”

I’m old enough to do without rose-coloured glasses, so I know W isn't perfect. He’s rather quick to take offense when people are critical, for example. But every day I love him more and it’s different than the love I had at 19 - that was just passion, this is more complete, more about him as a person rather than him as a physical person.

Normally I’m not one for trusting emotional responses, but with W - I knew when I was 19 that being with him was the right thing to do, even if I threw a wrench in that process. And I know now, without hesitation, that being with him is the right thing to do. Married or not, it doesn't matter right now. We’re together and we stood on that deserted beach in Lyme and promised each other that we wouldn't let anything split us up again.

While I was initially angry about the eight years we lost, now I’m just grateful to have a second chance, to have W at my side, knowing that he’s there for good.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Lacy2

When you read this I'll probably strolling on a beach in Lyme with W.  I hope you're doing something equally pleasant!

W and I made a day trip home last week and visited Lacy while were were there. She wanted to share a few words with you and made me promise to post this - click to see a bigger version.

Dear Readers,  I apologize in advance for the inadequacy of my words in conveying the happiness I see in my Anne lately.  (I’m told I am to refer to her gentleman friend as W.)  Anne and W called on me recently. They had finally spoken – after an eight year silence full of confusion and resentment and regret!  I saw how they look at each other, how they treat each other - with respect and support, and I wish I could capture it and show it to everyone, show them how it can be, how it should be.  Anne has probably told you I was not a big fan of W eight years ago. It’s true. He was young and arrogant and rash. That’s not why I advised Anne to turn down his proposal; I did that because she was too young and needed to find her path in life. I think I was right back then. Seeing them together now, both older and wiser, I think this will be good.  W clearly adores her, and it is good to see my Anne adored. She is always thinking of others before herself, always giving way so others will be satisfied. W won’t let her do that. Their biggest problem may be fighting over who gets to be most accommodating of the other.  Have you ever seen two people together and been able to tell in a moment that it is just right that they be together? That is Anne & W.   It’s beautiful.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Partners

It’s been a crazy week. Jane and Emily and I came to an agreement about our partnership!  The legal paperwork is still being drawn up but we outlined the key points together and shook hands on it.

flowers I got for Jane & Emily to celebrate our partnership!
Then, as if that wasn't exciting enough on its own....

I revamped my project proposal to reflect the new arrangement and I had my meeting with Ms. Dalrymple. Despite all the unfavourable things I've said about her in the past, I will say this - she does support a lot of worthy charities and seems genuinely to care about improving communities. She asked very good questions about the project (which I had answers for, thankfully). And….. she committed to be my core funder for the first two years!! It’s not enough to get started, but it’s a very big piece of the puzzle and will make it so much easier to approach others about funding. It’s a huge step forward! Huge.

There has been much celebrating going on.

I was walking to Alicia's earlier today, under blooming cherry blossoms, with a strong suspicion that I was in a dream. Have you ever been in a rut in life where you start to think 'okay, this is just what life is, I have to accept this'? And then when good things happen to you, you find yourself not believing them? Like, actually waking up each day thinking it will all melt away and revert back to 'normal' blah life?  That's where I am. Unable to believe these good things are not transitory blips. I'm trying to believe. It's a work in progress.

W is negotiating with me to see what level funder I will let him be for my program. I’m holding strong on keeping him out of it, though I’m not above using his contacts.

He's tricky though. I showed up at one of my volunteer shifts last week and Jane met me at the door, bouncing with excitement. She said a delivery of books had arrived unexpectedly. I said, 'great', and she took my arm and pulled me into the office where ten huge boxes full of kids books were stacked. My jaw dropped. She said there was no explanation and they had no idea who donated them.  I have a strong suspect in mind, one who denies knowing anything about it when asked, but sure smiles a lot when questioned.

I told Dad and Elizabeth about my project (actually Ms. Dalrymple mentioned it to them and so they asked) and while I don’t think they really get it, or don’t get why I would spend my time on it, Elizabeth did suggest I hold a fundraising party - with a Dr. Seuss theme. She got quite excited about the idea, and has been suggesting interesting possible venues, creative entertainment ideas. I think she might be launching herself on a new career of party planning, which is a perfect fit for her, actually. Lacy is encouraging me to let Elizabeth use her party and social network skills for good and I’m contemplating it. W and I crunched some numbers and think that a party with the right invitees could pull in a considerable start-up fund!

To celebrate all the positive developments, and to get me away from all the distractions here, W is taking me to Lyme for a few days. We've got a cabin near the beach rented and years of catching up to do. I will be blog-silent until I get back. Please amuse yourselves while I’m gone!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Coffee

W stayed the night last night. This morning he got up before me and went downstairs to make us coffee. Where he ran into my dad in the kitchen. I should note that, being the smart man he is, W got fully dressed before leaving my room. Apparently his encounter with my dad went like this:

W, probably blushing: Uh, good morning Mr. Elliot.

Dad, confused: Good morning.

W: Anne sent me in search of coffee.

Dad, sighing heavily: I keep trying to tell Anne that coffee is going to give her wrinkles. She needs to be drinking my anti-oxidant smoothie if she wants to look fresh.

W: Is is possible to make a coffee-flavoured version of your smoothie? That would be a big hit, I imagine.

Dad: That is an interesting idea.

Apparently Dad pulled out his blender and got to work and W was stuck there for half an hour while they tried different flavour combinations. W eventually returned with a brown, unappetizing looking smoothie that actually didn’t taste that bad.

 I now tease W that his next venture is going to be a version of the Juiceman with my dad as the spokesmodel.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Offer

I was going over my proposal with Jane this morning to get her feedback on the latest version and she made me an offer that nearly knocked me out of my seat.

She suggested that rather than start a new program from scratch, that I open a branch of their program back home, with me at the helm. That would mean that it would be part of their existing charity which would make grant applications more likely to succeed, and we could continue to share resources and knowledge. 

I told her I was flattered that they were willing to make this offer and I was about to say yes on the spot when she laughed and said she wouldn't let me answer today. She said it’s important that I take a day or two to think about it - see if I need the autonomy of my own organization or if I can work with them in theirs. They don’t want me to agree and then find out six months in that we have different ideas of where we’re going.

So I've been thinking about all the things I want to do with my program - ideas I want to explore, objectives I have. Based on my experience so far, I think Jane and Emily are both open to new ideas and aren't set in stone about things, but I'm drafting up a list of the things that are really key to me, and my wish list of things I may want to incorporate in the future. I'll go over this with them and see if we find any sticking points.

Fingers crossed!
Proof of the cherry blossoms exploding around town right now. So beautiful. So early.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Q&A #5

Q&A

You all apparently have many questions for W.

I haven’t told him about this blog yet, though I probably will one day - let him read it and see how his behaviour at the Lodge tortured me. Or not. 

But I did get some answers for you that I can share.

Q: W's use of 'half hope, half agony' in his email - is that a hint that he read this blog??

Ah, no. The half and half thing is something W and I used to say to each other back when we first dated - whenever one of us asked how the other was doing, the response was some variation of 'half x and half y". W was never satisfied with my single emotion answers, he wanted more, wanted nuance, wanted to better understand what was going on, so I started responding with fractional responses. Sometimes it was "half happy, a quarter annoyed at Beth, and a quarter anxious about the possibility of rain".  Yes, we were dorks.

Q1: Why didn't Wentworth come see me as soon as he got to Bath? He came to Bath just to see me, right?

A: I did ask him about this the night we finally got together. Here's the story. He had been in Bath for about an hour when he ran into his friends and went to the cafe where he ran into me. And then saw Will. And then his friends from Bath had told him that according to society gossip, Will and I were ‘close’. Which was confirmed when he saw me and Will at the concert. He explained how conflicted he was that night - wanting to tell me he still loved me but worried he was too late. After that he was undecided - he was convinced he couldn't compete with Will who had my family’s approval, and he felt sure I must hate him after how he treated me at the Lodge.


Q2: Was I in love with Wentworth the whole time?

A: Well, he is probably the reason all my other attempts at relationships failed - they paled in comparison to what W and I had - we connected so perfectly. But I wasn't sitting and pining after him for eight years. Maybe 2 years. Or 3 max.

When he showed up at the Lodge - reading back through the blog posts I can clearly see how much I was in denial. I wouldn't admit it but I hoped that we would see each other and fall back in love and so his icy demeanor hurt all the more. I tried to get used to the idea that it wasn't going to happen, that he and I had our chance and I blew it and that was it. But I kept harbouring hope - this tiny scrap of ‘maybe’ deep down inside. When I found out he and Louisa were not a thing, that little bit of hope exploded to fill every bit of me and I decided that I needed to try again with W - to risk rejection and more heartache, I couldn't go on without trying to have him by my side again. I wasn't sure how to go about it, and I certainly didn't blog about it, but it took up a lot of my brain space, trying to figure out how to make my move. Then he showed up in Bath…. And made the move for me.


Q3: What about Will?

A: Oh, Will. Now there is a tale. About a week ago, Elizabeth walked into Clara’s room before breakfast, to confirm the plans they had for the day. And she found Will hastily putting on his pants.

I know!

So, Clara has left. Rumour has it she is staying in one of Will’s apartments. Not sure if they’re serious about a relationship or just having a fling. I suspect Clara will be disappointed in the end, but who knows. Maybe it’s true love for both of them, you never know. My dad was a bit mopey for a few days, but someone gave him a new anti-wrinkle cream to try so he’s been distracted. He made a comment yesterday about Clara’s freckles (Dad loathes freckles), so I think he’s getting over her…. if the two of them even had a thing to begin with, something I prefer not to know the details of.

Elizabeth was angry at first, I think; having had hopes for Will twice now that have been disappointed. But she went on a date yesterday with a new guy in town, someone who seems to have most of The List criteria… so, fingers crossed? I don’t really know what’s going on with Beth, she won’t give me a serious answer when I ask questions about her personal life. If she ever does get engaged, I suspect we’ll all find out about it in the society pages first, me included.


Q What has W said about dating Louisa?

Louisa is a lovely person, but she’s so young, I was surprised when Wentworth seemed to be interested in her. He said he honestly didn't realize everyone thought they were so serious. They never officially went out on a date. They hung out a lot, but usually with other people – skiing with Rietta, dinner with the family, etc. He said there was one time - where he showed up at a restaurant expecting to meet a group of people for dinner and found only Louisa there. Looking back he realized she thought they were on a romantic date, he thought everyone had just bailed on dinner. There was one awkward kiss that Louisa planted on him after he drove her home from that dinner (she was pretty tipsy), but otherwise nothing actually happened between them, despite everyone’s idea that they were dating.

So, that should teach us all not to speculate about the relationships of others!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Family

One of my few regrets about my relationship with W is that I don’t have any family members I can look forward to introducing him to.

He has siblings who are all wonderful - warm and friendly and smart and funny. Sophy's delight on finding out W and I were together was so heart-warming! W cooked dinner for the Crofts and I and Sophy gave me a long hug when I arrived and kept smiling all night. Mr. Croft seemed confused about it, but once W reminded him that we had dated before, he shrugged and told W that 'however he had managed to get me, he was a lucky fellow'. 

In contrast, my family is so.... unwelcoming and so focused on their own stuff, it’s constantly embarrassing. Wentworth is rich and successful enough to meet Dad’s approval (not that it matters - nothing anyone says is keeping me from W this time), but Dad had to make remarks about the fact that W earned his money and position rather than having it as a birthright, which is - whatever, it’s Dad, it’s how he is. Wentworth is annoyed by it but now he knows that my Dad’s views are not mine and I live my life guided by my views, not my family’s. Being in company with my family is strange. W does his best to be friendly and charming and patient, Clara takes her cue from Elizabeth who is friendly but not overly so. And Dad values W mostly as someone new to listen to him talk about himself. W's furtive side glances at me whenever someone says something exceptionally stuck up or ridiculous makes it really hard not to burst out laughing.

W also has a large circle of good friends - and by good I mean, good people and good company. I really only have a few close friends these days - Lacy and Alicia, and some back in [place name redacted].

Speaking of friends, when W found out about Alicia’s investment problem, he immediately called his lawyer who wrote a threatening letter to Will’s company. The lawyer predicts the shares will be released in a week at most. Alicia of course loves W now, almost as much as I do. Fingers crossed for Alicia, she could use a change of luck!

W’s year off comes to an end in three months. He says his goal for the year was to spend time with friends and family and to recharge, find new inspiration. His previous start-ups are going well and he is itching to start something new. Lately he’s been saying he wants to take me away somewhere for a month or two - a cabin on a tropical beach or a house in a tiny French village.

I told him his timing was terrible.

Of course, I've been telling him about my non-profit project. He’s given me some great, practical advice on starting up a new venture. He also offered to fund it. 

It’s incredibly generous of him, and it may be that by rejecting his funding, I won’t be able to start, but… I don’t want to put that burden on our fledgling new relationship. I also want to find a stable funding source that is earned by the merit of my project - though I know those are rare and I’m probably being overly idealistic - but I have to try. I've got a meeting set with Ms. Dalrymple in early March to pitch it to her. With Jane and Emily’s help and W’s polish and business savvy, I’m confident I’ll get her on board and it will be so much more satisfying to do it this way.

So the plan for now is to stay in Bath, and at some point transition back home together. The future is a bit up in the air, but W is reaching out to his contacts in [place name redacted] to explore some ideas and see what opportunities there are. He likes the idea of being closer to his siblings. I asked if he minded picking up his life and moving across the country and he laughed and said his life was here already, all that was left in the other city were his books. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Language

I thought you would all appreciate knowing that W is being very sweet in unexpected ways. For example, flowers keep arriving from him. They've been coming at the rate of two bouquets a day!

They are beautiful bouquets with one strange bit - they consist of all red roses with a single stem or sprig of some other plant that is labeled on the card. I was confused until a copy of ‘the language of flowers’ from 1885 appeared on my bed.

By order of arrival, it’s been this:

Purple lilac: first emotions of love

Carolina Jasmine: separation

Lemon geranium: unexpected meeting

Fool’s Parsley & yellow rose: silliness & jealousy

Hazel: reconciliation

Sorrel Wood: joy

And the last bouquet was a giant bundle of
Forget-me-nots: true love

Obviously I did the only thing I could. I responded today with a bouquet of lily of the valley (return of happiness) and a card with an invitation to a hotel I booked because… well because I’m living with my dad at the moment and W is staying with his sister and we could use some time alone.

Note: getting oddball flowers delivered is very hard - no idea how he did it! Where does one get hazel??

Additional note; Elizabeth awkwardly handed me the first bouquet after it arrived (having assumed it would be for her since I have never received flowers before). She didn't ask anything. But when the second bouquet arrived she asked who they were from. She seemed very relieved when I said W's name, although she then had to ask who W was.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dog

Despite my blog content of late, I do have other things in my life besides man-drama.

I have to send W away every now and then so I can spend time with Jane and Emily and their organization. It's really important to me to meet their expectations, however much I want to just disappear into the sunset with W.

At the centre, one of the little boys I've been working with during my volunteer shifts is painfully shy. I've been trying to get him to practice reading aloud with me, but haven’t made much progress.

I made contact with a woman who has a beautiful golden retriever therapy dog and after some prep work and training today she brought the dog in to try my idea. We introduced the boy to the dog and he was thrilled. They ended up snuggled in a corner with the boy reading his favorite book to the patient and attentive dog and handler. It was sweet and wonderful - but most importantly - effective in getting the boy to open up. Jane was there and said she had a number of kids she thought this would be a great help for. I’m very pleased that I could find a way to help an award-winning program expand and improve!

Life is pretty awesome right now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Random

I wonder, if W and I had stayed together from the start, would we have made it?

I think so, I think we would have been happy together, grown together… but it would have been harder in some ways.

I’m doing my best to see this silver lining - that he and I get to rediscover each other, find out what has stayed the same and what has changed about each other. In essentials we are both what we were, but there is still plenty to discover.

He’s been telling me about his project ideas, some of which are amazing - and I’m not just saying that because I love him and think he’s awesome. The best part is that we can talk for hours about our ideas like we did eight years ago - we still connect. Eight years ago we were dreaming together, now it’s more exciting because he’s proven himself and has resources - everything is more real, more doable. He is tempered a bit, experience has taught him how much work it is to achieve the things he wants, and he is more calculated now about what he puts his energy into. It’s such fun to challenge him and debate things again; he sometimes gets annoyed when I point out issues he hasn't considered, like I’m raining on his parade, but he gets over it quickly.  And he's challenging me too, questioning my business plan, testing to see if I've done my research, dreaming up things that are bigger and bolder than anything I've dared to put down on paper.

I don't know how to describe what my days are like now. I have been pretty solitary for a long time. The default setting was to be alone - even in company I was alone, making small talk, not really engaging with people. Every now and then I would get to spend time with a friend, someone who understands me and with whom I could have a real conversation, but those were exceptions. Now, I spend all my free time with W and I feel....  seen.

One of you said once on twitter that someday I would find 'my people', the ones who appreciated my quirks and foibles and world view.  I wasn't so sure.  Now I believe.

Tonight W is cooking dinner for the Crofts and myself. W has the task of telling his sister what our status is, which is awkward only because there isn't really a word that properly captures it. We aren't engaged, 'dating' seems weak, 'lovers' makes me blush. I'm disappointed in English for failing me so completely on this front. I wonder if other languages have a word for this - something less cheesy than 'soul mate' but stronger than 'boyfriend'?

W took me to this awesome used bookstore that I hadn't known about. Love.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hearts

How awesome is this bike rack?
Yesterday, I kid you not, was the first day of sun we have had here in... a  month? It rains all winter long, and going weeks without seeing sunlight is pretty typical. Yesterday the sun came out and the entire city came alive with happy people. Birds were chirping, cherry trees were blossoming. It was perfect.

I am determined to make Lacy and W friends. They are the people I care about most in the world, and I’m determined that they should learn to appreciate one another.

W still has some lingering resentment against Lacy for being the one that persuaded me that we should not marry. He is open to the idea of getting to know her, especially as he acknowledges that he played the larger part in our long separation, not Lacy. On her side, Lacy has to get over her memory of W as a quietly arrogant young man whose personality grated on her and come to know the man as he is today. She also has to get over the hopes she had of Will and I. Will won her over (as Will does everyone) and she thought he was perfect for me. This will be easily solved by relating what Alicia told me. I think, ultimately, Lacy wants me to be happy - and seeing me with W must comfort her that that has been achieved, finally. I am far happier than I feel I deserve to be.

I also can't help but notice all the hearts that seem to be around me that I swear were not there before.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Conversations

I didn't get much sleep last night. W and I did a lot of talking - while walking, over dinner, over wine, in late night cafes - basically anyplace that would let us stay. I feel pretty good for someone operating on very little sleep.

Our plans for today are vague beyond just being together and generally avoiding others. I came home for a nap and to freshen up and get new clothes. I'm meeting W at the harbour shortly. He has an idea that involves a boat. At some point we will have to interact with other people again, and in some way explain our status to people who probably won't understand. It will be okay, I'm not worried about it, I just don't want to spend my energy on it yet. I want to focus on W, and getting to know him as he is now.

We've had so many interesting conversations in the past 18 hours - mostly going over the past. I can’t recount them all. But this one - this is probably an important one:

W: If I had called you, a few months after you dumped me-

Me: I didn't ‘dump’ you!

W: After you broke our engagement?

Me, nodding reluctantly.

W: Would you have gotten back together with me?

Me: Of course! I never wanted us to break up, really. I was persuaded that you needed the freedom to realize your dream - that if I loved you, I would give you the space to work insane hours and become a success. I thought that getting married was a mistake, it would be a distraction. I didn't know what we should be, but I knew marriage wasn't right, not then.

W: So these eight years we lost together, were all of my own doing.

Me: Well, I share the blame. I was so scared of how much you must have hated me, I couldn't bring myself to contact you, though I thought about it a lot in the early years. I composed and didn't send a lot of emails. If I had been braver, maybe this all would have been fixed sooner.

W: No, no you were right. I did hate you. I worked very hard to nurture bad feelings about you. They just didn't stick. As soon as I saw you again at the Lodge, they all melted away, much to my annoyance at the time.

Me: Really? They seemed very sturdy to me.

W: That took a lot of effort, trust me. I tried to convince myself I could be with someone like Louisa, but it was so empty. At Lyme, once it was so obvious that you were so superior to everyone else; I couldn't delude myself anymore after that. I’m sorry, Anne. For running away - I was a young idiot with hurt feelings. I should have talked to you, understood your reasons for doing what you did.

Me, after a pause: However sorry I am about the result, I’m not convinced I was wrong to be persuaded to break it off. We were very young. You did need space to get your business going and I needed to find my path in life. I don’t know that I would give the same advice, if asked, but Lacy was looking out for me, and she wasn't entirely wrong. As a foolish 19 year old, I think it was right to listen to the advice of someone more experienced.

W: You know, possibly the only reason I was so successful in that first business was because I lived and breathed it. I was so angry and hurt; I avoided everything by spending every moment on the start-up. My partner called me “The Machine”. If I had been with you, and happy and blissful, I would have called it quits every day at 5 and the venture would have failed. Now, I would trade in all the material success if it got me those eight years with you, but since all I can do is look back with hindsight, I have to admit Lacy perhaps had some points worth considering.

Me: That is a fine concession. You’re very humble!

We're trying not to spend too much time dwelling on regrets.  While we lost that time together, it did give us each a chance to get to the places we are now, which aren't bad places to be. And looking forward? Things look fabulous.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

W

Let me tell you about my day - maybe in a bit more detail than normal.

Bear with me.

First of all, yes Rietta did text me his number yesterday. And I fretted about it all night and all morning.

Once again I put off seeing Lacy about the whole Will thing. Honestly, I didn't want to think about Will.

I had the first organizing committee meeting today. Normally I wouldn't bother you with details of it - I’m glad to be involved but event logistics isn't riveting blog material, I realize.

I arrived early, like always, so I sat in a cafe in the building where the meeting would be and I stared at the number Rietta had sent. Do I text him or call him, I wondered. I felt like calling was the right thing to do but it required the power of speech which tended to fail me. With a text I would get my message out for sure, but it seemed too business-like, not personal enough.

I had ten minutes before my meeting. I tapped in the numbers, which I had already memorized, and put the phone to my ear, not breathing. It went to his voicemail so I hung up. I put the phone in my bag, hands shaking. What had I done? I didn't know. I just could not leave a message and sit in agony waiting for a return call. I put it out of my head, pulled myself together for the meeting. I would strategize my next move after the meeting.

I walked into the meeting room and found Wentworth sitting at the table with the six other organizers. By the look on his face, I could tell my appearance was also unexpected. (His surprised expression was adorable, actually.)

I sat down on the other side of the table, stunned. I had been thinking about my next phone call attempt, how I would talk him into a meeting and somehow get over this weirdness between us. I wanted it resolved - partly because I think we both wanted the same thing, but partly because every time I ran into him unexpectedly I handled it so poorly. I was tired of being embarrassed and tongue-tied. As an example of how useless I am when I run into him - note that I said I sat down on the other side of the table from him. Making it impossible to have a private conversation or even pass him a note saying “I still like you. Do you still like me? Check one:    Yes     No”.

After I sat down I saw Wentworth take out his phone and look at his notifications. Then he looked at me. I met his eyes for a moment but the chair of the meeting called everyone's attention and I looked away.

The meeting went well, nothing significant happened. Wentworth and I pretended to be normal people who weren't extremely frustrated at having these other people in the room, preventing important conversations. When the meeting ended, I positioned myself by the door and was chatting with another woman, waiting for everyone to leave so I could have Wentworth to myself (he was sitting at the table, typing on his phone). Then Harvey - Wentworth's friend from Lyme - came in.

He greeted me warmly, surprised to see me, I think. The woman I was chatting with left and Harvey and I got onto an interesting line of conversation. He said Ben had spoken of proposing to Louisa. I was shocked. Harvey corrected himself by saying that Ben didn't mean it literally exactly - rather that being with Louisa made him realize he could imagine going down that path with someone else. Harvey was getting his sister’s engagement ring from his family’s safe deposit box to return to Ben, as it had been Ben’s mother’s and Harvey had meant to return it ages ago. Harvey had no ill will towards Ben about all this except to be sad that Ben had gotten over Fran so quickly.

Harvey and I had a friendly debate over which gender holds onto love longest. I granted him that men are capable of constancy but I claimed for women the privilege of loving longest when all hope was gone. It was not the most upbeat debate.

Then Harvey said he had to grab Wentworth to make a meeting with an old friend who was in town. Wentworth got up suddenly, reminding Harvey of this, and in a second they had said their general goodbyes and exited. I was immediately drawn into a conversation with two new people. Externally professional; internally I was frustrated with myself for letting another opportunity slip away.

A minute later Wentworth entered again having forgotten his umbrella. As he passed me he caught my eye and gave me an intense look. He pulled out his phone, nodding at me. The whole thing took maybe ten seconds, and then he was gone again. That look! Not caring if I seemed rude, I dug my phone out of my bag, gestured at it and mumbled an apology to the others. I had a new email - from Wentworth! He had been sitting at the table composing an email to me.

I can sit in silence no more. I have to speak to you somehow, this will have to do.

You pierce my soul.

I am half agony, half hope. Tell me I'm not too late, that your precious feelings for me are not gone forever. My heart is yours now as much as it was eight and a half years ago when you nearly broke it. Don’t say that men forget love sooner than women. I haven't loved  anyone but you. I have been unjust, weak, resentful, but I have never forgotten.

I came to Bath for you.  Have you realized this? Can you fail to understand my desire? If I could read your feelings, I would not have hesitated.

I can hardly type, every moment I hear you say something that overpowers me. You speak softly but I can distinguish your voice from all others with no effort. You are perfect. I hear you telling Harvey you believe men capable of constancy in love - believe it to be most powerful in me.

I have to go before receiving any answer from you. Don’t reply to this. I'll find you after my appointment, as soon as possible. One word from you will tell me my fate.


You can imagine the effect that had. To have all the confusion cleared away so suddenly. There was nothing to be done but find him immediately. I took a few minutes to read the letter again and calm myself down enough to appear somewhat normal. I hastily said goodbye to the other committee members and went outside.

There was no sign of Wentworth and Harvey outside and I had no idea where they went. So I called Charles and asked for Harvey’s cell number. I texted Harvey right away, cursing auto-correct that slowed me down and caused me to lose precious seconds. I asked Harvey where he and W were and added that he please not tell W I had contacted him.

Thankfully, Harvey replied right away (though it felt like ages). They were in a pub nearby. I went out in the rain and jogged there. I stood inside the entrance to the dark pub while my eyes adjusted and I caught my breath. I used my shirt sleeve to dry the rain off my face and saw him. He had his back to me. His leg was bouncing up and down - a sign of extreme impatience I recognized. How he was able to make polite conversation after sending that passionate email, I don’t know. I suspect he was doing terribly.

Harvey spotted me, cocked his head slightly and then tapped his friend on the arm, pointing to me. W turned and froze when he saw me. Harvey practically pushed him out of his chair and he came over.

He knew from my expression that he had not missed his opportunity. I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but the look of happiness on his face at that moment - that’s possibly the best thing I've ever seen. To make someone that happy - what a feeling. I grinned like an idiot and as soon as he was close enough, I threw my arms around him in a desperate hug. All those years of wishing I could be in his arms were answered - he wrapped his arms around me, lifted me off the ground, buried his face in my neck, and whispered “Oh, Anne."

Every time I had fantasized our reunion, I had imagined kissing him right away, but in the moment I was too discombobulated for such a sophisticated, complicated action. We hugged for a long time and I started to cry. I was so happy, so relieved, so unable to believe that this happy ending had come about; it was too much.

After a few minutes, W, his arms still around me, waved Harvey over to ask him to make apologies to their friend. Harvey laughed and told us to go already. W grabbed his coat and umbrella and led me outside. I pulled myself together.

When we were finally alone, there were no words at first. We kissed right there on the sidewalk, under the pub awning. It was slow, and deliberate, and filled with the passion of eight years of missed kisses.

I couldn't believe that I woke up this morning, not knowing if I would even see W again, and there I was, touching him and having him look at me like I had just saved him somehow. He was looking at me the way he used to, the way that makes me feel like he really, truly sees me.  I feel like there is a lesson there about not giving up hope, about being open to the twists and turns in life… but I’m sure everything I write right now will sound like a cliché or a greeting card. I’m sorry.

Did I mention we kissed? And it was fantastic? Just thinking about it makes my knees weak - literally; I didn't know that was really a thing.

At that moment, what we needed most was to forget the world. To get away from everyone we strolled to the gravel walk in the nearby park and talked over everything. Here are the highlights, in bullet form because I’m in a bit of a hurry:

- I told him that of course I still loved him, that I had never stopped; never found anyone to be his equal. He quite ruined my love life, actually; dating was dismal in my 20s.

- he said he was unconsciously constant to me. He thought he was over me a long time ago, thought he had forgotten me even, but at the Lodge he realized that wasn't true. He fought against it; he was determined not to fall for me again.

- it was at Lyme that he admitted to himself what his feelings were. He also discovered at Lyme that everyone thought he and Louisa were a couple, despite him not really having any serious intentions. He tried to politely extract himself and was probably more overjoyed than any of us at the news of her and Ben hooking up.

- he was jealous of Will. He had come to Bath knowing I was here, came here to see me and see where it led. Seeing me at the concert with Will, seeing Will’s obvious interest in me, knowing my family would be excited and happy by that match; he admitted to being chased away.

I would write more, but, I really only came home to change before meeting W for dinner. Funny that this happened on Valentine's Day - a holiday I've always ignored. I have to run - W is waiting, but I had to share this news with you. You've all been so supportive and helpful, I don't know if this would have come about without you all encouraging me. So really, I think this year, I view everyone who has commented, tweeted, emailed, and tumblred as my valentine, is that okay with all of you?

W has somehow managed to get us a table at a small restaurant, a place I've been wanting to visit since I got here.

W and I have a lot of lost time to catch up on and I'm eager to start.

I wish you could feel what I’m feeling; it is amazing.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Text

I just sent a text to Rietta.

I deleted everything except ‘can you txt me Wentworth’s #’. I didn't explain.

She hasn't replied yet. I’m a bit nervous that she will reply. Once I have his number I have no excuse, the power will be in my hands to contact him.

An Age

So, that wasn't the party I was expecting.

Here's another long blog post for you....

The evening had been going well. It was a relaxed event in a cute art gallery and everyone was interesting and easy to talk to. I felt like I was making some real, meaningful connections - it wasn't the awful networking event I had imagined.

I was with Emily, chatting with the CEO of a small company when Jane came over to introduce someone to us. She introduced Wentworth. Of course.

I felt my face turn red and thought about whether it would be weird to excuse myself for a new drink when my existing drink was 2/3 full still.

I hadn't expected to see him, not there of all places! It was clear from his expression and his refusal to look at me that the feeling that had driven him away from the concert was still in place. I did my best to stay calm, even though I was pretty desperate to resolve all these stupid misunderstandings immediately. We were adults, and if we were both still attached to each other, then surely we would understand each other soon, I told myself. We’re not teenagers who will misread every word and action.

He ended up in conversation with Jane and another guy while I tried to say sensible things to the CEO and Emily. Then this happens:

CEO: Where is Will Elliot, this evening? You know him, I assume, Anne?

Me, noticing that Wentworth’s conversation hit a lull in time for him to hear this: He left town early this morning for [place name redacted] for a shareholder meeting. He’ll be out of town for a few days.

I belatedly realized I had given a far too detailed answer, which Wentworth could misread plenty into.

CEO: Really? I thought I saw a glimpse of him earlier.

Then the CEO looks around and points out a man standing by the bar. I look, and sure enough, it was Will. Of course it was. He had lied about his leaving, or his plans had changed, I don’t know. But there he was having a good laugh with someone.

Me, feeling Wentworth’s eyes on me: Looks like I was wrong.

CEO: It wouldn't be like Will to miss a good party; I don’t think I've ever been at a party where I haven’t seen him. My husband was hoping to go to a play tonight and was disappointed that we had this party booked already. What would you have picked for tonight if you had no obligations, Anne, a play or a party with all of these lovely people?

Me: Well, in all honesty, I’m more of a theatre person than a cocktail party person - but that’s because the usual company at cocktail parties isn't up to the caliber of this evening.

I didn't have the guts to look at Wentworth and see if he understood me, understood that I would happily miss a night of Will’s company.

CEO: Nicely said. I am duly flattered! Emily, you should have introduced me to Anne years ago - so many blows to my ego that could have been patched up by a few minutes in her company.

There was a pause in the conversation and the CEO excused herself and Emily turned to speak to Jane. I found Wentworth standing next to me. My heart was in my stomach, unprepared for this proximity. He was close enough that I could smell his aftershave - the same that he used eight years ago. It brought back memories of early mornings together.

W: You haven’t been in Bath long enough to learn to enjoy cocktail parties, then?

Me: No, I don’t imagine I ever will learn. I’ve never liked cocktail party small talk, you remember.

W: You didn't, I remember. But time changes people…

Me: I’m not that changed!

I stopped, afraid of what I might be implying.

W: It has been a long time, hasn't it? Eight and a half years is an age.

I didn't get to reply or know where he was going with that, as we both got pulled into other conversations.

I resolved to corner him at some point and have a proper conversation but never managed it. I caught a few glimpses of him across the room but by the time I politely got away from whoever I was with, he was gone.

Why is it so hard to speak openly with someone? To just say -’ I still love you’ and leave it in their hands? It seems like it should be so easy, but when you are standing in front of the person, you prefer to try to read into their body language and looks and unrelated conversation to try and get some hint that you have a hope. Is it pride? A desire not to look like a fool? When I’m next to Wentworth, it’s like someone has erased those words from my head - that’s how impossible it is to say them.

I’m kicking myself for failing to have a private conversation with him. Why can’t it just be like in the movies - I see him across a crowded room and go over to him and kiss him? End all misunderstandings with one action. Why didn’t I do that? Why am I so timid, even in trying to get the thing I want most?

At least the night wasn't a total bust - I was recruited to be on the organizing committee for a large charity event - a great chance to do some good and keep busy. I desperately need all the distractions I can get right now to keep me from going crazy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Distract Me

I’m going a bit mental - I've been going out for very long walks, hoping to bump into Wentworth, but I don’t. Of course. Bath is not that small of a place. I think about trying to find out where the Crofts are staying while in Bath. I have emailed Rietta, asking if she has Wentworth's number (with a lengthy boring made up reason for needing it). I want to talk to him. I need to talk to him. I want it to be in person - the thought of doing it over the phone, I just can't.

At least I’ll be distracted tonight - I’m going to a networking party that Emily and Jane got me an invite to. They think it will help me make some good contacts that might turn into funding targets. I’m not great at networking, but when you want something you have to find a way and Jane says there are some important people at this event - businesses with charity budgets and other resources on offer. This would be a good time to not embarrass Emily and Jane; fingers crossed. It's really kind of them to invite me.  I'm spending today with my nose buried in child development books, trying to be productive to make up for the fact that I have so far been entirely unable to get Wentworth's contact info.  For all I know he's left town already.

But I'm not thinking about that.  I'm working.
I'm trusting street stencils to be correct.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dinner

Will just left. That was possibly the most terrible dinner I've ever sat through.

I used to feel that Will was not always completely real, but now I look and see nothing but insincerity in his words and actions. Knowing that he is actively thwarting Alicia’s attempts to gain sound financial footing makes all his charm and good manners disgusting. He sits and makes nice conversation and flatters everyone, and all the while is causing someone’s suffering.

My goal was to put an end to any encouragement of thoughts beyond acquaintance. He tried to revive the mystery of his source of information about me, but found me uninterested - in fact, bringing it up just reminded me of Alicia which made me think less of him. He seemed surprised by my behaviour - though perhaps the train wreck of our 'date' let him know he was in for something - but Clara kept directing his attention to Elizabeth, which worked out well for everyone.

One bit of relief - he’s going out of town for a few days, so we certainly won’t see him. That will probably be my window to try to tell my family something about his real character.

I've been wanting to discuss all this stuff about Will with Lacy. Alicia said it was okay to share the information about her situation but I can’t think how to reveal Will’s real character to my family - he’s so loved by everyone. I’m hopeful Lacy will have some ideas.

It's on the to-do list, though not at the top.

More Truth

Because everyone is asking: no, I haven't managed to contact Wentworth yet. I mean, clearly I have to, and I will, but I need to figure out what to say and how to reach him. He's kind of a hard guy to contact.  It will happen. I promise I spend all of my spare time thinking about it and I am resolved to somehow see him in person and say what I need to say, even if it results in mortification or some other form of death due to social awkwardness and embarrassment.

I visited Alicia today. Walked to her apartment with my head full of thoughts of Wentworth - full of love and hope that it might still work out. I’m sure little songbirds trailed me down the street singing happy love tunes.

From Alicia I learned some surprising things. I don’t even know how to present the information. Basically I learned that Will is a selfish, heartless pretender.

It turns out that Alicia knows Will. Thus I have already solved the mystery of Will’s source of hearing about me. I would celebrate except for everything else I learned.

Like, Will and Alicia's husband were close friends. That, in fact, Will was responsible for talking her husband into several bad investments (in addition to talking him into spending lots of money on nonsense and parties - like spontaneous trips to Miami and $3000 a night VIP rooms in clubs). Alicia received the investment in Will’s company in the divorce settlement and has been trying to liquidate it so she has something to live on while dealing with her illness. And Will is effectively blockading her. He could, apparently, make it happen with a signature on a document but he has been stalling and ignoring Alicia for 8 months now. Her only recourse is to go to court, which she can’t afford to do. She is in limbo. And living in poverty because it is inconvenient for Will to lose the investment money from his venture.

She was initially rather reluctant to tell me all this about Will, having heard rumours that Will and I are dating. In fact, she thought my present Disney state of happiness was due to our concert date! I quickly squashed the idea of Will and I and she eventually told me how Will used to behave years ago. And it matches the doubts I've had about him, some of the references he’s made to places and pastimes that are…. less than respectable. It even seems that his previous relationship was an effort to get at the woman’s parents and convince them to be founding investors in his start up. Once he had secured the money, his efforts in the relationship faltered and the poor girl, very much in love with him, was wrecked by his neglect and apparent change of heart.

Alicia even understands Will’s change of heart towards my father. She says that she recalled his mocking the Elliot family name and legacy when Will and her husband were friends. Will mentioned, years ago, that Anne’s father was expressing a willingness to take him on as a mentor. Will openly mocked the idea. Now, however, it turns out that Dad has controlling shares in a company Will is heavily invested in and Will is hoping to persuade Dad to sell those shares to him for a song. When Alicia told me this, I nodded, thinking of all the business meetings they have had together - Will essentially directing Dad’s shares from behind the scenes until he can own them himself.

Me: And Will’s interest in me, how does that factor in? Does he think he’s more likely to succeed with Dad if he’s a son-in-law?

Alicia: Oh, as far as I know, that is genuine. Being with you, even marrying you, doesn't gain him any advantage. I think he honestly likes you. He's wealthy now and doesn't need to marry for investment capital.

I don’t know what to write beyond that.

I guess it’s a nice pat on the back to my judgment that I felt something about Will didn't ring true. Maybe Will isn't a terrible cut-throat villain. Isn't he just a business guy trying to get ahead? Is it wrong to use his family connection to gain a business advantage? But then I think of his ex-girlfriend, someone he halfheartedly pretended to love for four years simply to gain access to investment funds, and I want to punch him in the face. Emily knew her, said she watched her wither in the unhappy relationship - but she wouldn't leave; she loved Will, kept waiting for him to return to his original, charming, loving self.

I think back to the moment with Lacy where she had me contemplating a future with Will - maybe only for a minute, but I thought about it! What misery would have awaited me there, I wonder, if I had let myself be persuaded to believe Will to be as good as he pretends to be? How many times do I have to be taught to trust my own judgment!

I came home, having missed a visit by Will while I was at Alicia’s - thankfully - but he fished hard for a dinner invite, apparently. Clara made it sound like he wanted an excuse to spend time with Elizabeth, which was exactly the thing to say to make Beth happy. (Clara is good with the flattery.) So I’ll probably have to see him tonight. Don’t know how I’ll look him in the eye knowing what I know about him now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Truth

I've thought it over and decided that I’m not mad at Will.

He’s a decent guy and we have good times together, it was a very natural time for him to make a move, if he was so inclined. And I’m flattered that he wanted to go there with me. I wonder what I would do if there wasn't a Wentworth in the picture? I honestly don’t know. Poor Will, though, he never had a chance.

I promised full honesty in this blog, and here it is: I still love Wentworth. Of course I do. I probably never stopped, I just went into stasis. Seeing him again after all these years - I was curious to know if he had changed or if I had changed so much that we no longer connected. And we both have changed but there is still something there, I think. He is better - more considered, more interested in listening to others. I am… more certain in myself and my abilities. Does that make sense?

And I owe Will this other thanks - for showing me that Wentworth must still care something for me, why else would he be so bent out of shape by seeing Will’s interest in me? And I guess I should thank Will for making me realize how fully Wentworth still has my heart - I can’t even contemplate being with someone else if there is a possibility I might have another chance with Wentworth.

Now it's a question of what do I do about it?

All the street graffiti I see lately is very on point.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Worth Staying For

I guess, first of all I have to admit to being a bit dense. As many of you have pointed out in comments/emails, Will and I going to the concert together did have the appearance of a date - but I swear I wasn't thinking of it that way. I was thinking - I’m going to a concert with a friend because he has a spare ticket. But clearly Will thought it was a date. And I think Wentworth did too, when he saw us together.

Yeah.

Warning - this might be the longest blog post in history.

So Will and I got to the concert venue early. We were in the lobby and Will had stepped out to make a business call when I saw Wentworth come in alone. I happened to be near the entrance so I smiled and said hi immediately. He hesitated, but he came over. We talked about the weather, how the Crofts like Bath, the concert.... and then our conversation died and the silence grew so large I thought he would go away any second, but he didn't. He wanted to be near me? Then he started speaking about Lyme.

Wentworth: I've hardly seen you since our trip to Lyme. It must have been difficult for you - to be the only one to keep her head and be useful at such an awful moment. I hope you weren’t scarred by it all.

Me: No, no. It was nothing. I’m fine.

Wentworth: God, that was a terrible day! But, you know, it has resulted in some things that are not so terrible. When you sent Ben for the ambulance, you couldn’t have any idea that he would be one of those most concerned for her recovery!

Me: No kidding. I do hope they're good for each other - they're both good people, so I am optimistic.

Wentworth: Yes, they are both good people, though I think that’s all they have in common. But I do wish them to be happy together too. They are lucky to have the support of all those around them - the Musgroves have welcomed Ben warmly, despite not knowing him, and Harvey is being very good about it too. It is always easier when those around the couple are happy about the relationship-

He stopped here, maybe realizing what he was referring to, and to whom he was saying it. I sure felt the reference and blushed deeply while staring very intensely at the lobby carpet.

Wentworth: I do think they’re very different, though. Louisa is sweet, and she’s not stupid, but Ben is something more, very clever and well-read. I am surprised by Ben. His fiancée was an amazing woman - so intelligent and caring. A man doesn't recover from a love like that, to being connected to someone so good. He shouldn't.

He stopped there - maybe from the consciousness that his friend had in fact apparently recovered from his previous love.

 I was struck dumb by the casual way he spoke of Louisa and the agitated voice he used to talk about not ever recovering from a previous love. The noise and crowd of the lobby, which had filled up around us, was nothing - I heard every word, every change in timbre of his voice. I had so many things I wanted to say in response, but he had caught me so off-guard, I was floundering for anything to say to keep the subject open in some way.

Me, lamely: Did you end up staying in Lyme for very long?

Wentworth: No, not very. I stayed until it was clear she would be okay. I was too much to blame for what happened to leave before knowing that. I spent a lot of time walking around Lyme while we waited.

Me: It is a beautiful place. I’d love to see it again.

Wentworth, studying me: Really? I thought the accident would have ruined it for you.

Me: Well, the end of the trip wasn't great, but other than that part, we had a lot of fun. I haven’t traveled much, so every new place is interesting to me. Lyme is lovely and I have happy memories of it.

Will returned at that moment with a group of friends he had run into and he pulled me over to introduce me, barely giving me time to smile at Wentworth before losing him in the crowded room. I had learned more about his feelings in those ten minutes than I had during all my time at the Lodge. He did not love Louisa, and never had; it had been nothing but flirtation. During the introductions to Will's friends I was in a good mood - pitying everyone who was not as happy as I was at that moment - it was the first real-ish conversation I'd had with Wentworth in 8 years. There was hope that he didn't hate me. When the introductions were done and I was able to step back to find Wentworth again, he was gone. I caught a glimpse of him going into the concert hall and felt a moment of disappointment, but I figured we would meet again before the end of the night.

Will and I went in to take our seats and as far as I can remember I floated there. I was going over my conversation with Wentworth, remembering every look, every expression. Remembering his apparent eagerness to convey that he had no feelings for Louisa, his surprise at Ben for getting over his first love. I interpreted all this to mean his resentment of me was perhaps giving way to more tender feelings. Perhaps it was the hot venue, or the wine, or the emotionally closeted state I've been in for so many weeks, but I was overflowing with happiness at the thought that maybe Wentworth could be part of my life again, in some way. Not yet, perhaps, but the intensity of his looks and his changed behaviour towards me let me think that it was at least possible, and I was ready to encourage it however I could.

I was so lost in my own thoughts that I didn’t look for him on the way to our seats and couldn’t see him from where we were sitting, so I had to content myself with enjoying the show and planning what I might say when I was able to talk to him again. The opening act was a band from Montreal and whenever they sang in French, Will would lean over and insist on a translation. I did my best to summarize the gist of the songs, which I had to shout into his ear.

As the first act finished there was a break while the next band set up. I was keen to get back to the lobby but Will insisted we wait for the mob to clear out of the aisle first, so we stayed in our seats.

Will, leaning towards me: You know, before we even met in Lyme, I knew of you by reputation.

Me: I guess you would - from Dad and Elizabeth years ago?

Will: No, I heard you described by those who know you very well - not your family. Years ago your beauty and talents were all described to me in great detail, and quite accurately, I now find out.

Me: Who? I can’t think of who you mean.

Will, very delighted in my puzzlement: No, no, I won’t tell. Maybe later. But for now I want to enjoy your confusion. I heard the name Anne Elliot ages ago and I was always curious to know if its owner lived up to the reputation. I am pleased to find it does.

This is where Will reached over and stroked my hair and said something about how happy I made him by finally going out with him. Which is where I came to the realization that you all came to yesterday - that our concert date was… a date.

I was frozen in place as Will touched me. I kid you not - the man is caressing my hair and leaning towards me and I’m so surprised, I just sit there.

Someone bumped my seat from behind, which woke me up. I’m sure I turned bright red. I got up abruptly, startling Will (I think he was prepping for the next move which was supposed to happen sitting down). I told him I had to use the washroom and I practically ran for the aisle. I looked towards the lobby doors in time to see Wentworth turn and walk away. I went into the lobby and, since I couldn't find Wentworth, I stood in line to get a drink, hoping Wentworth would come over. I couldn’t see him, but anyone wanting to find me could do it easily since the line was in the middle of everything. He didn't come. I did laps of the crowded lobby, swallowing my drink and searching for him.

Eventually people started to go back to their seats and I thought the less crowded room would make it easier to find each other, and scanning the room I saw him and started towards him. He saw me and, after a hesitation, walked towards me and stiffly asked me if I was enjoying the concert. His whole demeanor had changed back to the icy politeness of the Lodge. I talked with enthusiasm about the next band, which I knew he loved, and his icy attitude melted a bit, then a bit more. Things seemed better. Until Will showed up. He came up behind me and put his arm around me!! Said he was worried about me and was I okay. Then he stuck a hand out at Wentworth and introduced himself. I saw Wentworth stiffen as they shook hands.

Will suggested we get to our seats before they started the show.

Me, to Wentworth: we could forget our seats and go to the front, it’s always better there, right?

Wentworth: No, I can’t stay, I have to get home.

Me, pathetically: Isn't the band worth staying for?

Wentworth: There’s nothing worth staying for.

And he turned and left.

I could kill Will - of all the times to put a move on me. Who makes a move at a concert? And the way he put his arm around me so possessively when he saw me talking to Wentworth, ugh.

At the time I was crushed - things had gone so well and then so terribly. But I’ve thought about it, and - tell me if I’m crazy - but the only explanation I can think of is…. that Wentworth was jealous of Will. A week ago I wouldn’t have had such a thought, but since he’s been in Bath…. He’s been different. Or am I imagining it? I mean - if he saw Will trying to kiss me, that could be what got his back up again, right? If he is jealous - how to I get him over it? How do I tell him that Will is nothing to me? I don’t even have any way to contact him. Do I stalk him online? Send him a friend request on Facebook? Ask Louisa for his number?

Or am I imaging all of this and making a fool of myself for hoping for something that will never and can never happen?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Short Update

Despite the fact that I am unable to keep myself from looking for Wentworth whenever I am out, I haven’t seen him since our encounter in the coffee shop other than maybe spotting him in the distance once while out shopping with Lacy.

 There is a charity fundraiser concert tonight that I think he might go to - it’s a band I know he used to love. I tried to talk Elizabeth into going with me, but it’s not her thing. Will happened to be around when I mentioned it though, and he said he had tickets already and his friend had backed out on him. So Will and I are going to grab dinner and then go to the concert.

On the volunteer front - I’m still going to the centre nearly every day. I love it. It’s hard work, but it’s good to be busy, good to be doing something good. I've got tons of ideas I want to share with Emily and Jane and so much to learn from them about their successes and challenges.

In the end it turns out to not be a bad thing that I ended up in Bath.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Agitated

I was out for coffee today with Will, Beth, and Clara when it started to rain quite hard. Beth insisted on a cab to get home without getting wet. Due to complicated maneuvering, we ended up with a plan for Beth and Clara to catch a ride with Ms. Darlymple who was also around. I would walk home with Will; much to my relief (I prefer to avoid Ms. Dalrymple).

This had just been decided when I looked out the window and saw Wentworth walking down the sidewalk. The surprise of seeing him made me lose track of what was going on at my table, as I watched him cross the street. I admit to being flustered just at the sight of him and hating myself for it. Next thing you know I’ll be fainting in the street. When I did return my attention to our table, I saw that Will had popped next door to get something while we waited for Ms. Dalrymple’s car to be brought around.

I had a sudden urge to go to the door and see how hard it was raining. You’re probably thinking I could see that from the window, but I wanted to see it from the door, sue me. I got up to do that and almost walked right into Wentworth and the group of people he was with as they walked into the cafe. He seemed more confused and surprised at the sight of me than I have ever seen him - for once I seemed to have my feelings under control more than he did! Of course, this is only because I was able to have my mini-freak out at the table a few minutes earlier. Still, on seeing him in front of me, a flurry of emotions filled me up; agitation, pain, pleasure - something between delight and misery. Is that over-dramatic? Maybe, but it’s the best way I can explain it.

He said something ordinary to me - it wasn't cold as much as embarrassed, then turned to speak with his friends, who went to get a table at the back of the cafe. When they were settled, he turned back to me and made polite conversation.

The conversation wasn't remarkable, but he was. At the Lodge we had gotten used to being together and had perfected the art of speaking to each other of nothing with apparent indifference… but he couldn't do it now. Something had changed. He looked good, not ill or as though he had been pining after the loss of Louisa. In fact, he even spoke of the Lodge and Louisa without batting an eye. But this Wentworth was not comfortable and wasn't able to fake being comfortable.

Someone entered the shop to say that Ms. Dalrympe's car had arrived for Miss. Elliot. Elizabeth and Clara made their way to the door.

Wentworth: Sorry, I’m keeping you from your ride.

Me: Oh, no, I’m not going with them. The car only has space for two and I like to walk.

Wentworth, confused: But it’s raining.

Me: Not very hard. I don’t mind.

Wentworth, after a pause: Even though I've just arrived, I've equipped myself for the climate. Use my umbrella, if you’re determined to walk. Though I wish you would let me call you a cab.

Me: No, really, it will stop raining in a minute. I'm waiting for a friend who's going to walk with me.

I had just said these words when Will showed up. Based on his expression, it seemed that Wentworth remembered Will from Lyme.

Will was all apologies for keeping me waiting and he nodded to Wentworth as he took my arm and hurried me out as the rain had stopped and he wasn't sure how long for.

 I only had time to give Wentworth a quick apologetic smile over my shoulder as I left with Will.

Normally I quite enjoy Will’s conversation, but the only way he could have made me happy at that moment was to be silent and leave me with my thoughts as we walked. I was trying to puzzle out Wentworth. Was he suffering from disappointment from the end of his relationship with Louisa? I had to know. I knew I should stay out of it, shouldn't think of it. I should be reasonable and realize it had nothing to do with me. The status of Wentworth's heart is not my concern anymore. But I admit that I am not reasonable yet. I need to know. I need to know how long he plans to be in town - do I have to ready myself for the possibility that he may bump into my family? That is a horrifying thought. Does this post make any sense?  I haven't been able to have a coherent thought all afternoon.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Progress

Today was awesome.  Emily and Jane had me check in with the teachers of some of the kids in their program. This is something they do regularly to track progress and decide if the kids need more time in the program or if they can graduate and create space for someone else in need.

I spoke with five teachers and they all said they saw noticeable improvement with the kids in the classroom. Not just that they were reading better, but that some of the kids that had been disruptive previously were now more studious. They were all more engaged in learning. It was amazing to hear. These are teachers struggling with overly large class sizes who are unable to devote extra time to the kids that need it, and hearing their relief at the fact that the kids are getting help - they were super uplifting conversations and I'd love to have more of them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Unexpected

The Crofts are in Bath!

I was walking down to the waterfront walkway when I bumped into Mr. Croft himself! He was standing outside an art gallery window frowning at the painting on display. He was so absorbed in his study of it that I had to touch his arm to get his attention.

Mr. Croft: Well hello, Anne!  So nice to bump into you. I've been staring at this painting as I always do when I walk by this gallery.  Did you ever see anything like it?  I'm trying to decide what it is a painting of. Today I think maybe it's a boat, a very poorly designed boat. What do you say?

I was very curious to know if he had heard any news of Louisa and Ben. We walked together for some time while he told me why they were in Bath, how pleasant he finds it here since he has many friends in the area, how he and Mrs. Croft go for long walks together every day. Apparently they are too used to constant travel to be able to stay at their new home for long without setting off for someplace or other. Eventually, he hit on the subject I was trying to figure out a way to ask about:

Croft: You know, we’ve had very strange news from Wentworth; you’ll be surprised to hear! That young woman that Wentworth was seeing - I forget her name, one of the Musgroves, the very young one…”

Me: Lousia

Croft: Yes, Louisa, thank you. I’m terrible with women’s first names. Anyway, it seemed pretty clear that Wentworth liked the girl and they seemed to be getting on well by all reports. Wentworth certainly spent a lot of time up at that Lodge, as you know. We've just found out that Louisa is now dating Wentworth’s friend Mr. Wick instead! What do you think of that? The accident in Lyme seemed to throw everything into confusion. I guess Wentworth’s going away didn't help his case; he quite left the door ajar there and in waltzed Ben to take the prize!

Me: I hope there isn't anything in Wentworth’s tone that makes you think he feels betrayed by his friend? He and Ben seemed very close.

Croft: No! Sophy said Wentworth was calm as creme in relaying the news. No complaint at all. Wentworth is too sensible to be fussed by this - if the girl likes someone else better - she should have him. From Wentworth’s behaviour, you would think he never thought of the girl for himself, he said he thinks they will be happy together!

Me: That is good to hear.

Croft: Well, now Wentworth will have to start over again with a new girl! I wonder if we should get him to join us while we are here. There is no sense in him going to the Lodge again, I understand all the women there to be spoken for. I think I’ll talk to Sophy about getting him here for a visit.

So there you have it, Mary's gossip confirmed!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

More news!

Two posts in one day - it’s that kind of day!

Mary called tonight! That alone is surprising and worthy of a blog post - Mary never calls me. She had news she had to share, and I’m glad she did because it is very surprising!

Lousia returned to the lodge and Mary went up to visit and discovered that Ben Wick, who was staying with the Harvilles, is with her. They struck up a romance while she was recovering in Lyme and are quite in love!  Those are Mary's words, so take them with a grain of salt, but for all her potential exaggeration, it's clear Ben and Louisa are dating.

Ben was apparently nervous about visiting, but the Musgroves have welcomed him warmly, of course. The fact that having Ben nearby makes Louisa content and happy guarantees him a warm reception from the Musgroves. Their priority is the happiness of their kids.

Mary said she asked Sara Harville how her husband is feeling about this new affection on Ben’s part, and apparently Harvey was more surprised than anyone - thinking that Ben was still very distraught over his sister’s (Ben’s fiancé's) death. But everyone loves Louisa and no one can blame Ben for seizing happiness and light when the opportunity arose.

I quote Mary:
"Charles wonders what Wentworth will say, but I never thought he was interested in Louisa, I never saw anything special in his behaviour to her. Didn't I tell you as much when you were here? I don't know why everyone is so surprised when I've been correcting them for weeks. And this will be an end to the theory that Ben is an admirer of yours, Anne - how could Charles think that? Really."

(Mary seems to have forgotten that she was the one that advanced the Ben-Anne theory, with no help from anyone.)

So that is astonishing, unexpected news!

Louisa and Ben are possibly the last two people I would have predicted to start up a relationship - she is so bubbly and light and he is somber and thoughtful. How strange! I suppose, when one is recovering from a serious accident, it puts you in a different frame of mind; maybe it changes you. It certainly threw Louisa and Ben together for several weeks - provided opportunity for something to happen, I guess.

I’m very happy for them both - being able to find happiness is always good. While everyone else seemed to think Ben would continue on forever in love with his late fiancé, I didn't get that from him. He was still very sad over the loss, but he seemed like a warm, caring guy, someone who would find love again. I only hope Wentworth doesn't feel betrayed. I hope he went away from Lyme because he realized his feelings for Louisa were not that strong. Ben and Wentworth are such close friends; I would hate to see that lost.

I learned this very interesting news and then had dinner with Dad and Beth where I suffered through their complete lack of interest in it all. I wished I was at the Lodge or with someone who cared - the news was so big, so surprising, and here I was with people who thought it merely a piece of country gossip! At least I can share it with you all who will understand!

In conclusion.  !!!

Grumpy

I’m grumpy today. I've been waiting for news from the Lodge - wondering how Louisa is doing, and everyone else. Mary is terrible at emailing - it’s been weeks since I heard anything! How hard is it to sit down and dash off an email - she could do it while being ‘ill’ on the couch.  Charles was updating me when the accident first happened, but he views the incident as all over with so he stopped.

I should probably email Louisa or Rietta directly, but I'm a bit embarrassed to reveal that Mary isn't keeping me up to date. I know they already think rather poorly of Mary, I don't want to add to that!

UPDATE
Okay, apparently if you complain about something on the internet, things will happen. I got an email from Mary almost as soon as I had pushed ‘publish’. It was the usual stuff, mostly complaints about her health, complaints about missing all the fun in Bath, and the one piece of real news that Lousia is due back at the Lodge today. That sounds good! I hope she'll be okay.

Mary also asked if I had emailed Ben and invited him to visit in Bath yet. She was adamant that he was pining for an invitation when she last saw him. I told her it would be very nice to see Ben again, and she's welcome to pass that along next time she meets him. I would like to see Ben again, see if he's been reading any of the less gloomy books I suggested.  But I also know to be a bit suspicious of Mary's recounting of things, so I won't be taking any action like she suggests.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Daunted

First of all, I will be sure to convey to Lacy your comments about her letter. She does have fabulous handwriting, doesn't she? Jealous.

Jane sat down with me today and went over the gist of their program financials. Sobering. My estimates weren't that far off, but they were low.  We had a great discussion about the tension between starting a bare bones program and struggling versus trying to drum up enough funding to start properly and hit the ground with resources. They started out very bare bones and it was iffy for several years which nearly wore Jane and Emily out (and there's two of them). She's encouraging me to secure a fairly high minimum amount of funding before I launch, especially as I'm looking to operate in a more expensive city. It's advice I'm taking seriously.

Anyway, these are all details that are probably not that interesting to you, but it's where my head is at these days. It's a weird head space, actually. I live with Dad and Elizabeth who, despite all they have, are often fixated on what they don't have - the 'sacrifices' they make.  Elizabeth wanted to get a new, bigger table for the dining room to allow for bigger dinner parties, and she made a point of showing me the table she had fallen in love with ($12,000) and telling me she wasn't going to buy it, given our 'situation'.  On the one hand, it's progress that she is voluntarily realizing she shouldn't be bleeding money we don't have - yay, but on the other hand - does anyone ever need to spend $12,000 on a table?

It's going to be a real struggle to raise funding to start my program, I know this.  And this for a program that tries to address a basic aspect of education for youth in our city - a wealthy city in a wealthy country. And I live with people who think $12,000 for a table, and $5000 for a living room chair are reasonable ways to spend money.

I'm looking forward to getting my own, modest, place again (a long way off still). I live between two worlds right now and it's jarring.  I spend my afternoon with kids who generally come from poor families who get excited about the fun, book-filled space that Jane and Emily have created because they don't have any books at home.  Then I come home to this lavish townhouse with Dad and Elizabeth or I go to social events full of wealthy people who spend more on flowers to decorate their hallways than some people make in a year.  

I guess I'm struggling to find my place in this messed up world, like everyone else.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

From Lacy

At some point last month I told Lacy I was blogging. It felt weird to keep the existence of this rather significant part of my life a secret from her. I appreciate all the support you all give me - the comments and questions and distractions on twitter when I desperately need distracting. This blog and all of  you have become important to me.

Lacy was keen to read the blog but I told her it was anonymous and I couldn't bear knowing that someone I knew in real life was reading it – I don’t want to have to censor myself here. Lacy is respecting that, so anonymity is preserved.

She did make me promise to post something from her. So, here you go, a message from Lacy to you all -  unedited, except for blacking out her name:


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Blushing

Lacy and I met for tea today at my favourite cafe and I found out that she had been at Ms. Dalrymple's dinner the other night, along with Will. She reported that she and Will talked about me a great deal.

Lacy: Will was sad to miss you at the dinner on Friday but was delighted by the fact that you snubbed Ms. Dalrymple to visit a sick friend. He admired your compassion and agreed with me that you are the finest of women-

Me: Lacy! You did not say that!

Lacy: Sure I did. And he said much more, agreeing that you were a rare example of someone with status, morals, manners, and wit.

Me: This is too much. Please tell me you’re joking.

Lacy: I’m afraid you must suffer under the knowledge that Will and I agree that you are an excellent person.

I blushed at this, as I always do whenever someone makes a fuss over me, but I have to admit hearing such high opinions of me created all the warm fuzzy feelings that I’m sure Lacy intended to create.

Lacy: I am no match-maker, as you know, but I will point out that if Will should ask you out at some point, it would seem to be a very good match - and I would wager a happy one.

Me, laughing at her seriousness: Will is very nice and in many ways I think highly of him, but we would not do well together.

Lacy, ignoring me: I admit to also liking the idea of seeing you with someone of means. You’re so like your mother and I know you could do good things, as she did, in a position that provided you with the opportunity.

Lacy clearly had Will and I married to each other in her imagination, and probably living in my family home while Dad stayed in Bath! For a moment, while she was speaking, I was attracted to the idea. (I should take care to note that Will and I are not related by blood even though we share a surname). Picturing myself back home and finding ways to use Will’s family wealth to do good in the world… and I wouldn't even have to argue about keeping my name.

But, the happy picture faded away quickly.

My heart is - well, forget my heart - Will doesn't quite pass my judgment. I've known the guy for a month and don’t feel like I really know him at all, not really. He is more sensible than many people here, and he’s charming and good to talk to, and seems to have a good sense of right… but I distrust this image of him. References he’s made to the past make it clear he wasn't always as responsible and upstanding as he is now. Perhaps he has changed for the better, or perhaps this is a phase. He is not an open person - I see only what he wants me to see - he is always very measured and controlled in all his reactions, where are the unplanned bursts of feeling? I find it hard to trust in the sincerity of people who never slip up and reveal their true feelings. While it probably sounds weird, I think he is suspiciously charming. Everyone finds him charming - my Dad and Elizabeth, and everyone else…. How is it possible that so many very different people can all be pleased by him? He is able to bend and shape himself to be pleasing to everyone, which makes me think I don’t see the real him anymore than anyone else does. He and I have spoken rather openly about Clara’s presence in the house and the potential badness of Dad’s connection with her - he sees as plainly as I do what she is up to and he views her with contempt, yet she finds him as pleasing as everyone else.

No. Will is fun to be around, but something about him doesn't sit right with me.  Maybe with time I'll change my mind though. Lacy is certainly advocating hard for him!