Friday, February 13, 2015

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.

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