Helena has gone back to Australia. And I have surprised myself; and been surprised. The world has not come to an end, the skies did not fall, (just as well with that heavy plane in the air!); and, as I looked at those blank grey automatic doors that had swallowed Helena alive, I pondered on the cruel indifference of Airport Departure procedures. Like Death, they are the ultimate one-way street. After gazing blankly at the inscrutable portals for God knows how long, I wandered into the adjacent bookshop for some literotherapy.
The five days since the Bonnie showdown had passed incredibly quickly. We had at last done all the touristy things, other than Pubs, driven by the indefatigable Joe. As often as not, Kitty came too. As ‘North-siders’, the Riordans were enjoying the experience of venturing south of the Liffey. As a taxi driver, Joe was familiar with the whole of Dublin but being a tourist was new to him.
‘Y’know, I must have driven t’ousands of people to dem places, and back again, but bless me, I never aksherly went in before.’
It was a hectic few days, and over far too quickly.
That last night, as Helena and I lay together in the big double bed in the Riordan’s guest room, I made a conscious effort to commit it all to memory: The lavender smell of the crisp white sheets; the real oak bedroom suite, none of your chipboard and veneer nonsense; the neat linen runner on the dressing table and its diminutive cousins on the little bedside tables; the hand embroidered ‘Bless our Home’ sampler that hung over the bed; I willed myself to remember the setting as I hugged Helena to me.
Helena was awake, but silent, her head tucked into my neck as my right arm cradled her shoulders. I must remember, I thought. This memory must last me for at least three months. ‘Observe!’ I told my observer. ‘Observe like you have never observed before. This is really important!’
Perhaps my tension communicated itself, for Helena opened her eyes.
‘What is it?’ She sounded concerned.
‘Nothing,’ I said, ‘I’m just trying to click Save ‘
We had been very logical-very logical and practical about the whole thing. Helena was going back to Sydney to the biggest and most demanding job of her whole life. She would need all her concentration, all her attention, focused on the task ahead. My mind boggled at its complexity. But if I loved her, and I do, I had to let her go. That corny old clichéd story of ‘releasing the bird’ is a truism, but what is a truism if not true. The only way to prove my love was to let her go. Otherwise, I would burden her with a dependence which would drag her down, my looking for a mother rather than a partner.
She hadn’t actually used those terms – neither had I, but we both knew. This was going to be my greatest task. Put up or shut up. Prove it. From now on I must fight my own fights, make my own decisions and venture out of my secure little fortresses. Keeping up with a woman like Helena, being a strong woman’s man, would require a fair amount of thought. My mind began to analyse the deciding factors. Hmmm…
Helena dropped off to sleep, but I stayed awake late into the night while I ran through again the various aspects of our agreement. That done, I contented myself by appreciating the sheer physical closeness of my sleeping love. Passion is all very well in its place, but to me, tenderness is a far stronger, and more satisfying, emotion.
So; Helena has gone. I will not see her again for three months. I can’t go back to Australia; the temptation to see her might prove too great. What now? I might pop over to Pommie-Land and look at a bit of History. I never did get to Denmark to buy those sex books, and there is still a fair bit of Ireland to see, I missed the monastery at Quin. I’ll think about it all tomorrow.
One thing I have decided: I’m going to buy Joe a new taxi; it’s the least I can do. I’m grateful for my good fortune.
© Copyright H.St.V.Beechey September 1997