On the Sunday I came off my bike, hitting the kerb at an awkward angle and was now the proud owner of a hairline fracture to one of those small bones in my wrist and a lightweight cast that made my right hand pretty much unusable. As I walked out of my office I dropped the four folders I was trying to put into my bag, I was trying to pick them up with my left hand when someone scooped them up and put the papers back. “Need a hand?” He was tall and slim with a shock of red hair and two days worth of stubble. Clear green eyes and even white teeth. He smiled nodding at my hand. “I could have worded that better.” I laughed and took the folders. “It’s just temporary.” I had never, ever done this before but I asked if I could buy him a coffee. He didn’t even so much as glance at his watch. He just said ‘Yes.’
Coffee turned into an early Lunch and a few days later we were having dinner at my favorite restaurant. We ate too much and talked about our childhoods, his in Dublin then London, mine in Chicago then Norfolk of all places. Our families, his a pair of old hippies who called him Dylan after the singer and mine, terribly straight laced but fun in their own quiet way, who called me James, after my Maternal Grandfather. Over dessert he asked me to stay the night and with I smile I said “I was about to ask you the same thing.”
Everything I ate at that meal is as clear to me as Dylan’s fist kiss, how warm his hands were. How sure of himself he seemed and yet almost reserved when it came to that time in the evening when we had been kissing for so long that we both just wanted to be together. Afterwards as he walked off to the bathroom I noticed the small birthmark at the base of his spine. When he returned he traced his fingers over the scar in my stomach and I told him about having my appendix removed when I was 19 after collapsing at a gig in Portsmouth. We must have fallen asleep at some point, I just don’t remember and when I woke I could smell coffee brewing and hear a loud clear voice singing “Sweet Dreams.”
That first year was almost too perfect to last. We moved in together in the August and by the following November we were the proud owners of a house, a dog called ‘Bernard’ and a hideous bright yellow VW Camper we called ‘Max’ for no reason either of us could remember. Late in the Summer of 2015, I was lying on the sofa watching the original ‘Rear Window’ with Bernard lying on top of me and Dylan sat with his legs over mine. I had never felt so content. Dylan was napping, so I turned down the sound. He had been tired a lot recently and I liked it when he fell asleep, he had been doing so much overtime lately. He woke at about 3pm just in time to see Jimmy Stewart all from his bedroom window and ran his hand over my leg. “James? I need to ask you something.” He sounded so serious, not like my Dylan at all. “Are you okay?” “You know I love you. You are probably the kindest person I have ever met and I wanted to ask, I wanted to know. Will you marry me?”
I don’t think I have ever been actually at a loss for words before. We were married in the March, all very simple, just a small do with a few friends. My Brother Ed was my best man and Dylan’s sisters were the two proudest flower girls you have ever seen. Our ‘honeymoon was at a B&B in Torquay that allowed dogs and we swam and slept, ate, walked Bernard, slept, ran on the beach, slept, ate and kissed a lot. I never expected any kind of fairy tale. I never thought that a life like this was possible. We couldn’t face loosing another dog after we had to have Bernard put to sleep, we are both grayer and don’t dance anywhere but the kitchen. We cook each other meals, we take the time to be patient with one another, we row, like everyone does, we still look forward to seeing each other. We still make time for each other. It probably isn’t the most exciting life. We have no mysterious secrets from each other or scary exes waiting in the shadows. We just are.