Wind back to June. Another Friday evening. Another bar. Same friend. Sammi.
Sammi and I met when we both worked in the same call centre. High stress, low pay, long hours, and a great group of people. Sammi and I bonded as friends with tales of boyfriends past and dreams of life, sometimes on shared bus journeys – tooing and froing
At this time, outside of work I was just surviving. I had loss and many layers and levels of grief of many kinds to work through. I am sure there was anger in there as well. In many ways I had withdrawn from life and living. Outside of work I would go days without speaking to anyone. Without saying a word out loud. I would walk for hours, in silence and observe others, drinking in their living from a distance feeling outside, with my nose pressed against the glass longingly. I became invisible.
Sammi kept inviting me out with her and with her group of social friends. I made excuse after excuse but this one Friday felt compelled to come along as Sammi had never stopped inviting me. I didn’t want to be rude. And I had to begin to reconnect with life somewhere, somehow. I intended only to come along for a short while and then make an excuse and go.
The Union Hotel at North Sydney. Dark descends and clings to shoulders and every piece of life early in June. Grey skies meld with grey pavements and similarly grey faces. A pocket of light, backlit by laughter and the Friday evening meat market; suits prospecting, gaggles of girls in a variety of colours and styles flirted and lilted, their voices and the vocal dance seemed mating music. Sammi and I arrived and nabbed a spot against the wall and she asked me if I saw anyone there I fancied.
My back against the wall I surveyed the entirety of the bar. My eyes played around the different groupings of people, but noone there stood out or captured me. I watched the Bar staff serving, and although some were obviously good looking, none touched the inner part of me and resonated. Not one. Sammi introduced me to her friends as they filtered in and bantered. We swapped the usual nonsense and pleasantries and my eyes wandered. My mind captured snippets of conversations and for a while I partook at a distance of vicarious life. And felt a fraud.
He walked in, wearing a suit. He was not my usual type which is tall, dark hair and eyes, shoulders,- instead he was not much taller than I am, and fair of hair and eyes a curious metallic grey…..but a hush gathered and something turned over in my stomach, like a fist clenching. Oh my. The world stood still, for me. Sammi introduced us and then introduced me to the friend of hers he was currently seeing.
What a pity I thought inside as he tripped to the Bar to grab some drinks for them.
I waited a reasonable time, so as not to be impolite and then made an excuse and walked home.
That was the very first time I met Tony. It was the following January we met and began our dialogue.