I want to fly backwards in time, and head for my old Art Nouveau apartment – the one my children and I used to share with our newly opened school. It was right in the historic heart of Kraków, within earshot of the quarter-hourly chimes that drifted from an aortic plethora of medieval churches and convents and monasteries.
We only had eight pupils when we opened, one of whom was my daughter, and the gargantuan abode simply swallowed them up, teachers included. It was a kind of alla family school, with me as a mother hen figure to all eight pupils. I combined as headmistress, teacher, secretary (we couldn’t afford a real live secretary yet), maker-of-drinks, cleaner-up of spills, and dryer-of-tears. Pity it couldn’t have stayed like that. The parents were nice that year. Supportive. No Snarlers in sight yet.
The first half-term was like a slice of heaven: living in a palatial residence, Hubby working in Warsaw part-time, me cherishing my new-found independence while he was away… until, without warning …
Crash! Bang! Wallop! Hell descended upon divinity. My husband confessed.
“Are you having an affair with her?” I asked, the ‘her’ in question being the Warsaw Vamp.
My husband nodded, and that was that. A sudden realisation that this newfound independence was not all it was cracked up to be, and that marriage was not, in fact, for ever.
Then came a rapid decline throughout the year: loneliness, no one to talk to during those long weekends when Hubby decided to stay in Warsaw with his skinny, long-nosed vamp who uncannily resembled a witch (albeit a young one); no dialogue at all other than the frequent, snap-whinge exchanges between my two restless children and me …
“Why hasn’t Daddy come home this weekend?”
“Because he’s busy.”
“Why is he busy?”
“Because he’s got lots to do.”
“Why can’t he do it here?”
“Because he can’t.”
“Then when’s he next coming?”
“When is soon?”
“I don’t know! Just SOON, for heaven’s sake! Now go and play and leave me alone!”
… No one to share my pain with; putting on a brave face for pupils and parents and teachers; the increasing plunge into Despair in Divine Surroundings …
Until, one grim March Sunday, Hope – the fertiliser of a dormant future – returned in the form of a grey-haired Irish bachelor-teacher with shocking blue eyes.
“Jealousy?” the clever dude mocked at me from across the kitchen table, once we’d sorted out his hourly rate, and which days of the week he could spare for our new A-level student, and which texts he would take over from me once he started teaching. Then we got stuck straight into the meaty juices of Othello. “If jealousy is the angle you’ve been teaching the poor girl up until now, all I can say is thank God you found me in the nick of time!”
“I didn’t say it was only jealousy; I mean – Shakespeare also emphasised the pride angle of his fallen hero – perhaps even primarily …”
But then he grinned at me, and flashed those wild, indecently blue eyes of his at my own embarrassed ones, and I knew there and then that this was a guy who would take some getting used to, but who would be worth it in the long run. And was he worth it!
Bliss! First time my decadently over-sized bed could be put to good use since I moved into the rented apartment the previous year.
“I’m telling you, you’ve never seen such a gigantic bed,” I brazenly boasted during one of our business meetings in our pre-affair days; a meeting in which we were supposed to be discussing the Metaphysical poets as per English A-level syllabus. “It’s big enough for at least five people!”
My not-yet-lover raised his wonderful Irish eyebrows. “Oh yeah?” he said, assuming a James Cagney voice. “Wanna show me?”
So, naive twit that I was, I proudly escorted him through the museum-like expanse of the school-apartment into my private quarters – i.e. my bedroom with the famous bed.
“I see what you mean,” my not-yet-lover said, nudging me in the waist with his bony elbow and tossing me a wicked wink. “Ideal for orgies.”
And suddenly I blushed, realising that my puerile showing-off about an innocent piece of bedroom furniture must have come across to my intimidating companion as an invitation to join me for a good romp on that very piece of furniture of which I was so proud.
Embarrassed or not, within weeks we were indeed romping about in those heavenly, sensual expanses. Talk about fucking! – pardon my French. It was a bed simply made for the job – on a multiple scale. But I was more than happy to settle for the singular, namely, my brand new lover. My very own, sizzlingly sexy, frizzlingly intellectual, acrobatically linguistic, deliciously-exploring, marvellously-moustached, thick-grey-haired, bright-blue-eyed, bony Irish lover! Forgive me for the somewhat hyperbolic description. But seriously, do you know what it feels like to be touched again by someone you truly desire, when you you’d tossed desire into the bin several years ago, and agonised over the loss of it?
I forgave Hubby everything! If he felt like this when he met his Warsaw Vamp, then no wonder he temporarily flipped, chucking his decent, kind, honourable nature aside. Felt like what, do I hear someone asking? – some poor anonymous reader who has never experienced what my Hubby, and eight months later, I myself experienced? Okay, let me be more specific. I mean like drowning in a tidal invasion of body-burning, soul-consuming, regenerating, deifying, seismic, cataclysmic, apocalyptic PASSION!
Apologies again to all anonymous readers who prefer economy of words, but I just couldn’t think of a more appropriate way of putting it. Anyone else out there who has experienced the above description and ended up being unfaithful to a spouse as a result of it – well, then you should be forgiven everything! You’d have to be a bloody Samurai to fight the kind of passion that I’m talking about: the kind that grew and pulsated and grew and leaped about and grew and thundered and lightened and still grew and danced and ricocheted from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, and at last – though only briefly, mind you – rested.
It rested upon that indecently huge bed, with the low-wattage bulb of the moon filtering in through the uncurtained window, painting our naked bodies in soft lustre. No despair now; only love, tenderness, romance; the birth of a new chapter. Ah, here we are.
The moon was made for us, that night.
* Extract from “Thirteen States of Being”