Half term. Do you know, it is six years to the very day since I first met Rochester. Our date was by the steely and icy sea during blackberry week. Blackberry week: week of sea-frets, falling leaves and unyielding grey Northern skies. Rochester, unlike every other inter-web blind date I'd encountered (and there were many back then, back when I was a little younger and an awful lot braver), was exactly as I imagined he would be: darkly witty, curmudgeonly yet urbane. He sported a look rarely seen outside of a 1960s Soviet Bloc undertaker convention. Oh. And he rescued a dog on our first date. My little dog, Boo. Damn the cunt for being all swashbucklingly heroic and that: an animal-loving, Geordie Errol Flynn in a funereal overcoat. It all seemed pretty darn perfect (if you ignored the farcical mischance that was Señor Boldon).
I finished my last blog post with an email. I'd written down everything that I wanted to tell him, but could never seem to verbalise in his presence. What would his response be? Would he bother replying at all? He didn't, really. Not with any great conviction or candour. In the end, I ended up texting furiously one night at 2am.
'Yes, but do you love me?'
It was degrading. Even as I sent it, I was aware of how deeply unattractive the message's fatal undercurrent of desperation must seem.
He replied, with forced patience, that he did love me. But the declaration was accompanied by several pages of analysis of what 'love' meant to him. It was bamboozling. It was like unravelling the small print of a double glazing contract. Bastard. Usually I curse the oaf for not saying enough. However, his first (and only) declaration of love was undoubtedly ruined by the inclusion of a set of comprehensive emotional 'terms and conditions'. Sometimes, less truly IS more. How I'd longed for the solemn purity of a simple, 'I love you'.
And nothing since, really. These last few weeks though, I began to feel like something had changed within me. I don't know how or why that happened. I wasn't floundering, drowning in sadness or loneliness. I kept going. I rarely thought of him. And when I did, the brutal, unflattering reality of our situation was sharply illuminated. Like a bleak and stony landscape suddenly revealed by cruel yet brilliant sunlight, I could see everything: I'd spent years waiting forlornly for a man who picked me up and put me down like a a pair of rather dull, but undisputedly reliable and comfortable shoes. Work was awful, awful but absorbing and exhausting. I was fighting for my job. Python in a Pencil Skirt had made it her mission to get rid of me (and several other members of the school leadership team). I had little time to moon about swarthy cads.
But then half term arrived, with its comforting gurgle of central heating pipes, cold night skies scented with gunpowder and lurchers giddy with squirrel fever. The solitariness of my days has undone me again. I am now missing him terribly. But maybe I am just sorrowful for the emptiness of the world he has left behind. Because, if I don't have Rochester, what do I have?