Since 2007 I have been writing a book; a love story. Working on it has been good therapy for me through some very difficult times. There have been days and nights when it contained the only shred of belief in love between a man and woman I was able to hang onto. Over time I have fallen head over heels for the story and that love has kept hope alive within me.
The book is fictional with bits and pieces borrowed from my life and others, yet included in ways far different from reality. The story is about a man and woman, who have both been hurt to the point they have little belief in love, but down deep a tiny spark remains. They meet unexpectedly in a foreign country, due to chance and fate, and begin their unlikely love story. Their pasts block their way to each other and the story is their battle against their own histories and conditioning.
Today is the time for me to step past my hesitance and thinking the work is not “good enough”. It matters not if it is viewed as wonderful, awful or somewhere in between. By letting others read a short portion of the story I am being true to myself. I am thankful for the courage to do that.
I did not see her coming. There was no way to anticipate how my life was about to change. It’s challenging for a depressed man feeling sorry for himself to see much of anything outside of his self focused indulgence. So there I was on Monday morning, engrossed in trying to read my Amsterdam map and did not even see her get on the tram. When I looked up she grabbed my attention. I stared at her just three rows away until she glanced up at me and I looked away embarrassed. I tried to be sneak more peeks at her, but every time I looked up she glanced at me a moment later. After the third or fourth time she smiled and red-faced, I smiled back.
Within a few minutes the tram started to slow to its next stop. She got up, took three steps closer to the door and ended up right by me. In American English (which surprised me), she said “What are you looking for?” I said “the Van Gogh Museum”. She smiled and said, “Oh that’s easy. Get off at the third stop after this one, go across the bridge and keep walking to your right. You can’t miss it.” Before I could even muster a “thank you” the doors on the tram opened, she smiled at me and I watched her step off the tram.
As the doors closed I stared at her as she walked away. Tall and slender but not skinny and she was about five foot seven or eight. Hair below her shoulders pulled back with a knit hat on top of her head. Dark pants were tucked into high boots that came up to a few inches below her knee (young or old, the women in The Netherlands all seem to wear boots in the winter. I had noticed on previous visits that no two pair seemed to be alike in the whole city). As she walked away I studied her. With a well-fitting below the waist length leather jacket, a scarf wrapped around and around her neck with an umbrella in hand my mystery woman looked typical for a casually well dressed female in the Amsterdam in February.
The blue and white tram slowly began to continue south as I watched her finish crossing the street. I was staring straight at her when she looked over her shoulder in my direction and smiled. Was she smiling at me? I wasn’t sure. I smiled back just in case. Then she turned away and three steps later disappeared into one of the city’s numerous alley ways that tie the town together. I was lost in my thoughts as the little train gained speed headed south toward the museum section of the city.
She was gone. I felt like a junior-high-school’er who develops a crush at first glance. This woman had made a distinct impression on me. Yet she was now lost in the sea of humanity. I was pissed off at myself for not saying something to her. I did not even thank her for her advice about finding the museum. But my chance was gone. I was left only with just a distinct image of her in my mind. It was her face most of all that seemed burned into my psyche. Hers were not the features of a beauty queen. Instead she was more real and attractive in an honest and non-assuming way.
Today I am grateful for the courage to post a little of the opening chapter of my book as it is today. There are 182 pages of the story completed so far with a conclusion coming in the third of the book I have yet to write. I am appreciative to anyone who took the time to read the opening paragraphs. It gives me encouragement. Thank you!
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.
“The Minute I Heard My First Love Story” Rumi, 1207-1273