I didn't know it at the time, but exactly one year ago today, I did something that would change my life immeasurably:
I went out for sushi on a sunny Sunday in S.A...
I'd known Shaun for about 8 years, in passing.
In my extended circle of party friends, he had always just been "Dean's hot younger brother", whom we'd bump into sometimes when we were out. Whenever I'd come home over the years, for a visit from Asia, I'd come across him out on the town. And he WAS hot, and charming, and INCREDIBLY sexy!
But he was also 10 years younger than me.
Which - while he was in his twenties and I was in my thirties - was a veritable lifetime of experiences and understandings apart.
So we'd say "Hi", smile, flirt-with-our-eyes, and then go our separate ways.
Then two years ago, I moved back home to Africa, and realized that a lot of my friends had settled down, and slowed down, and yet, here I was: still wanting to go out dancing. I missed the joy and exuberance that only dancing can bring... the freedom and wild abandon to an internal calling of the soul...
I needed a Party Buddy!
Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I started to notice that Shaun was out often, at music festivals, on a dancefloor somewhere - always smiling in the sunshine, always looking like he was having the greatest time - THAT'S the kind of energy I wanted to be around!
We made plans to meet up at the Earthdance Festival, but I got sick that weekend and had to bow out. A week later he messaged me about a drum-'n-bass party in town, but I woke up from a delicious afternoon nap at around 7 p.m that Saturday night to a gorgeous thunderstorm raging outside, and decided that I'd much rather stay in bed and watch it exploding outside my bedroom window - beautiful and wild and dramatic and powerful...
To make up for cancelling twice, though, I suggested we go out for lunch instead. Shaun said he'd probably be ravenous after dancing all night long, so we made loose plans to meet up the following day.
In truth, I was fully prepared to not hear from him at all on Sunday. I knew that he'd been out on the town for a final Johannesburg hurrah with one of his best mates who was moving overseas. I knew that he was an irrepressible hooligan, I knew he'd have had a raucously good time at the party, and I was half-ready for him to cancel on ME this time, and for us to simply keep trying and meet up again sometime in the indefinite future, on a dancefloor somewhere. No stress, no pressure, no obligation. Casual.
Instead, I found myself driving to a quaint little spot not far from my place to meet someone for lunch whom I'd known for years, but barely really knew AT ALL. I distinctly remember driving there and thinking "What on EARTH are we going to talk about?! I barely know this person! It's one thing to meet up on a loud and chaotic dancefloor and share some laughs and good times, but to actually sit through a whole meal and make conversation?! With a veritable stranger?! Uggggghhhhhh, what was I thinking?!"
(It is relevant to note here that I was COMPLETELY disinterested in the whole world of dating at this stage. Relationships were not even a blimp on my future horizon, superfluous to the happiness of My Future Self. After a series of heartbreaks over the past 20 years - each one more dramatic and devastating and destructive than the one before - I finally got myself the help that I needed. I began to see the patterns... to recognize my mistakes... to understand the choices that I'd been making, and the reasons for why I'd been making them, and how to stop making them... and began to work on fixing the "hole in my soul", as my therapist called it.
So by the time I went out for that lunch, I was feeling WHOLE, and happy, and centred. For several months now, I'd been celebrating the power of Me. I was excited about my OWN future, about the path that lay before ME, about all of the adventures that I was going to take MYSELF on.)
But my concerns were quickly allayed. Lunch was easy. We chatted, we laughed. We enjoyed each other's company, and conversation flowed effortlessly. Before we knew it, almost 4 hours had passed, and the restaurant was closing for Sunday evening. Shaun walked me to my car, and in true swoon-worthy fashion, gave me a kiss that I could not stop thinking about all the way home! Yum!!!
And it all started from there, really...
For the next few months, we began to date "casually". We'd see each other once a week, laugh and enjoy each other's company, and then go back to our regular lives.
Early on, I gave him the "I'm not interested in any kind of relationship" speech, and he expressed relief, because neither was he. We both had plans for ourselves for the year ahead, we both had things we wanted to do, and we both did not want the pressure of any kind of commitment to cloud the horizon.
But life's funny like that.
Before we knew it, our weekly meet-ups became the highlight of the whole week. Seeing each other was the best part of any week, and the time we spent together became more and more magical and sparkly and beautiful! We recognized what was happening, spoke about it openly, and just agreed to let things unfold as they will. No stress, no pressure, whatever happens, happens. Easy-breezy.
It's been a year now. I can't remember ever being happier than I am in this very moment.
Don't get me wrong: outside of me, it's all still completely topsy-turvy. My life is wildly uncertain, I've no idea what I'll even be doing next year, or where I'll be living, but none of that scares me anymore. I have no control over anything. And I'm okay with that.
What I DO have is an incredible amount of joy in my life, and a magical human being who reciprocates and mirrors and returns that joy tenfold.
I find myself in a relationship unlike any other that I've ever been in before. There is no stress, no anxiety, no doubt, or confusion, or feelings of insecurity or unease. We talk honestly about whatever comes up. We recognize our own mistakes, and apologize for them. We work on being better people, better lovers, better friends - constantly. We laugh A LOT. We appreciate each other.
We have never had a fight. We don't raise our voices. We don't need to.
This is all still very new for BOTH of us. We are remarkably similar in many ways - not least of which, in how we love. This new absence of volatility in a relationship, this lack of emotional turmoil - it's still something which we're both quite stunned by.
We are kind to each other. We respect and value and esteem each other.
He really is my best friend. I know I'm his. I've never had that in a relationship before. I never even knew it could be like this.
So here's to this past year!
Here's to all of the love and joy and goodness that came at me from out of NOWHERE!
Here's to love!
To MY love:
Happy Anniversary, FavouritePersonEver!!!
Oct 2017: It all started one Sunday... Our very first date. :)
Jan 2018: New Year's Day at the Revolution Music Festival
Jan 2018: Sunset Sessions @ Movida
Feb 2018: Sunday lunch with friends
March 2018: Dinner at Shaun's brother and sister-in-law's
Apr 2018: 6-month Anniversary at the same place (and same table!) where we'd had our 1st date
Apr 2018: Passover at my brother and sister-in-law's
May 2018: Mother's Day at Shaun's parents' farm
June 2018: A quiet Saturday night in
July 2018: My birthday weekend away, in the Magaliesberg
Aug 2018: Flying down to Durban for the weekend
Sept 2018: Charles and Kym's wedding