My lovely house and a long chat with Audrey

Sunday is quiet at chez Audrey. While my body pops my eyes open at six in the morning, every morning (no doubt owing to a years-long routine with ‘that man’), Audrey enjoys the last day of the week with all the decadence of an Edwardian princess. She seldom stirs before lunch no matter what, and then only to drape her post-showered self about the sofa sipping tea and crunching on near-to-blackened toast and marmalade.

By seven I have already showered, breakfasted, tidied, and read through a good portion of the Sunday newspaper.

At seven-thirty I was at my own house. you know, just to look things over. Would you like to know the truth? It was far less an inspection and far more a giddy girl dashing from room to room, thrilling at every sight. The fading smell of paint together with that invigorating timber smell of new furniture speaks new house to me and like a child on the night before Christmas, I am almost insane with anticipation of the day I will make this home once more. That day, the builder/decorator assured me last evening, will be Tuesday. Hurray!

The colours on the walls and ceilings were inspired by a visit some years ago, on a rare trip abroad when ‘that man’ had business in Paris, on a day-trip I took alone to Claude Monet’s house at Giverny. The dining room is the most lovely pale yellow with brick and white coloured tiles. The living room is a slightly muted turquoise and nineteenth century tiled floor. The kitchen is in blue tones, while my bedroom is a restful celadon green. I decided when renovating the house that each room would have its own character rather than the dull beige and dark brown that dragged its former incarnation into Dante’s seventh circle of my own, personal hell. So there! Colour reigns. The king is dead (well, might as well be), long live the queen! Oh dear, I am getting a little carried away aren’t I? Calm down, Katie girl. Must be the paint.

Having spent the better part of two hours at the house, time gets away doesn’t it?, I found myself walking about the shopping centre. The greengrocer had some fresh-looking courgettes and a cauliflower that would go perfectly with the meat in the fridge. I know white sauce is old hat now but there’s something about Sundays and chops and vegetables that demands white sauce. Perhaps it might be considered ‘retro’ as some say. Really, I am not old, but an upbringing in the traditional style will have its influences.

Are you wondering whether I’ve been thinking on my new situation, moving home and the altered relationship with Audrey? Of course I have. I’ve thought of nothing else. I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the internet from people’s blogs and information places too. I’m a little farther down the road to understanding but not far enough I think.

Last night, after dinner while we were relaxing in the living room, I spoke about my confused feelings with Audrey. It went something like this.

“It’s like this”, I said, “this is all new for me. For years I was married, bored and neglected but married. I knew my place in the world as a wife and a housewife. The bedroom was a place where I did my duty when my husband required it. It was never something I enjoyed but I never expected it to be. It was a wife’s duty, plain and simple. I suppose my mind was dulled from the long years of boredom. It was safe though and all that mattered was being safe and stable.”

Audrey tried to speak but I hushed her and I went on.

“Last year, well the year before last now it’s a new year, it all changed. He was gone, I was alone, then the depression took me over. I’d no sooner gotten over that than I felt this need to make things new. You and the other girls helped and it was all going along like a dream, you know, like a beautiful dream. Then I came here to stay. Within no time at all I was going about the place as naked as a new-born and on top of that, sleeping with a woman, not only a woman but my best friend. Can you see how I might be a little overwhelmed?”

Audrey tried to speak. I hush her again.

“I’m almost there dear, almost finished. I’m enjoying it, Audrey, I am. You’ve been such a good friend letting me come here while the place is being done and you’ve shown me I can enjoy my body and I don’t have to be ashamed of my few extra pounds. That’s a big thing. And in the bedroom, well, I never imagined I could feel that way. Certainly never with a woman. But I have a problem. The nudity is fine, I love it, no it’s us, what we’re doing in bed. Is it really me? That’s what I can’t work out. Am I like that? Or is it just being able to let go for the first time? Is it just the feeling or is it more? If I’d met a man who did the same things, would I have enjoyed that the same way? Do you see what I mean? Audrey, I’m not used to any of this and I don’t know what to do. The house wil be ready in two days and I’ll be moving back. But what will happen then? Will we keep going with what we’re doing? Will it stop? Do I want it to stop? Should it stop, at least for now? I’m so confused.”

The words might be a bit different but that is about what I said. After that Audrey said her piece of course, and she was very good, selfless, as only a best friend can be.

We talked until very late and in the end we’d considered all of my worries. At first Audrey said that once I went back home she would stay away for a while. But I couldn’t have that. Audrey is my best friend before anything else. Nothing has changed there. She suggested we stop our bedroom dalliance, at least for a while, to see if the feelings we shared were real or just a sort of release. I could see that hurt her to say but I agreed that once I went home, we should stop for now.

I am stilled confused. I don’t know how I feel about Audrey in that way. Physically it is the greatest of delights, I will never deny that, but is it me? How long will it take to know? As I’ve said before, I’m not old but I’m not a spring chicken either. I’ve become impatient to live life now in every way I can. Should I be denying myself experiences I enjoy? How long will it take? Listen to me, I sound like a schoolgirl, but I feel that way, like life is so open in front of me that I’m terrified to make a mistake. I suppose we’ll see what happens.

Sorry to have tested your patience so long. I’ll try to write less next time.

Until next we meet,

Kate

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Confronting Some Truths

Now that my home is a shell waiting for its new and exciting life to begin I find myself camped out in Audrey’s house.

While not a riot of colour Audrey’s place is delightful. She’s a bit of a one for those ghastly home improvement shows on the telly and she has made some changes about the place. Robert was always a bit of a handyman although his skills were limited to mainly shelves, paint and the odd skirting board removal. They were fortunate to have been drawn together by a casual compatibility rather than through a deluded sense of duty and sensibleness that tethered me to ‘himself wot left’. Whenever I’d visit when Robert was still alive I never felt rushed or unwanted. Their home was bright and airy and just so lovely and cozy and, as a couple, they were perfect friends and hosts.

Now, before you start thinking that I may have had some untoward feelings for Robert you can stop right there. Just as I did and do with Audrey I always regarded Robert as a good friend and nothing more. There, that’s said. Moving on.

Difficult as it may be to believe this stay with Audrey is the first time in my adult life that I have stayed with a friend.

Himself was always, since I knew him and even from a boy as his mother once told me, a creature of habit. Every morning he would wake, without any alarm needed, at 6:30am. He would “see to his ablutions” as he put it while I dragged myself up to make his breakfast. He would eat and read his paper, saving the crossword for the train journey to the office. I would be at the door, receive my peck on the cheek, close the door and clean up the breakfast things while he walked to the station.

Every evening he would arrive home at or near 6:30pm, depending on the trains, change into his casual house clothes and slippers and sit down to eat the dinner I’d prepared. After dinner while I cleared and washed dishes himself would go to the sitting room, switch on the telly and sit with the newspaper and listen to the news. Always the same, every night. Weekends he would play golf with friends or join them in some other activity while I shopped for groceries or stayed home. Sex was once each month, a perfunctory affair in which he performed his duty and immediately went to sleep. That was why his leaving was such a shock and such a relief. Perhaps its his middle-aged escape that men are supposed to be prone to. For whatever reason he won’t be back and I am not aggrieved.

You can see then why this free and easy life I’ve suddenly stumbled into is so dumbfounding at times, and why staying with a friend is such a novelty. One must get used to breaking habits.

On the first night of my staying with Audrey we’d prepared dinner together with me mostly peeling and cutting it must be said, and Audrey doing the actual cooking. Her palate is more accustomed to exciting flavours than my own so I made liberal use of the wine on the table. Did I mention Audrey also follows religiously certain cooking programmes on telly? Well, she does and dinner was testament to that. Please do not misunderstand, the meal was delicious, I’d just not encountered many or any of the spices she’d used. Life was already becoming spicier.

When dinner was finishing I offer to wash the dishes, a sort of thank you. Audrey laughed and told me about her dishwasher. I’d never used such a thing or conceived of ever owning one. So, we assembled the plates, etc, in the machine and Audrey asked me to take the wine bottle and glasses through to the sitting room while she went down the hall, presumably to the bathroom.

It was like something from a film when Audrey emerged minutes later completely naked.

She laughed when she saw my mouth hanging open. It is her way, as it had been Robert’s also, to go about naked in the house, she told me. I’d never known. It’s not something they did when friends were about she said but seeing as we’re such good friends and only the two of us, she felt relaxed enough to be herself.

I suppose I should have been flattered to be regarded as so close as to share such a personal part of Audrey’s life but all I could feel, at that moment, was shock. Fair dues to Audrey, she didn’t retreat or reach for the cover of a cushion. She sat on the sofa, giggling like a young girl. She did however cross her legs, more for me than for herself, I felt. It took a while but we relaxed a bit, or I relaxed a bit, Audrey could not have been more relaxed, and we went back to chatting as normal and enjoying our wine.

Over these few days I’ve not followed suit and gotten my clothes off in Audrey’s presence though I have softened towards the idea of it. Perhaps in time or in my own home in a month or so. As with so many things now, I have no idea.

This week I have been confronting some truths.

I am now single, well divorced, well sort of divorced anyway. Whatever it is I am manless.

My home was never my home before, it was his, I just lived there. Now it is my home to do with as I wish.

My taste in food and drink has been bland beyond imagining and is due for a makeover.

I have not had sex for months and I haven’t enjoyed sex, well, ever.

I have no job nor am I qualified for one anyway, nor do I have any real prospect of finding a job anyway.

My dearest friend is a closet nudist.

That’s enough to be going on with for now, don’t you think?

Until next we meet,

Kate.

Becoming Adventurous

Isn’t it difficult to know what to write about? I read the blogs of others and so many of their lives are full of richness and colour and grand adventures, or sordid and exciting goings on in dark places.

Life for me is not a blaze of colour. As friends have told me it is a process of discovery. Isn’t that a sweet way to put it? It is as if life has been recreated and everything is new and fresh. Please bear with me and together we shall see if newness becomes excitement. Also please do let me know if what I write is too long or too dull, sharing another’s life is, I must admit, not always filled with fun.

The weekend was a thrilling time. On Friday evening I walked through what had been very much my husband’s marital home. Everywhere were reminders of the woman I had been raised to be. Furnishings and decorations of another age, dark and bland.

I went from room to room with a clipboard and pencil jotting down the items I no longer wished to have in the house. It may not surprise you to learn that page upon page of loose-leaf paper was filled. When the process was complete many hours later, the picture that emerged was that of a house denuded. If everything on my list were to be removed the house would contain barely two dozen items plus a small quantity of precious books.

It felt wrong to strip away so much history although there was little of any real value except in one of those dreadful car boot sales my ex-husband was so fond of taking me to, to sit for hours while strangers pored over and bargained for the dreck of past days.

In the end I called a friend with my dilemma and she offered to drop by with a man she knows who deals with such things, the value and whatnot of brik-a-brac. He felt some few items bore selling at auction and the rest, he said, was not of salable worth. He further suggested a thing called a skip, a sort of out-sized rubbish bin, that can be filled for a price and taken away.

To my astonishment, Audrey, my friend and our group of library ladies, assembled on Saturday morning, bright and early, to help me move the items for disposal into one area for transferring to the skip that will arrive on Tuesday morning, several hours from now as a matter of fact.

We worked until lunch, fueled by tea and biscuits, then pressed on into the early evening until the job was done. We ordered takeaway and sat, cross-legged, on the floor in my parlour having a picnic as if we were children.

It is now near three in the morning, well past the time I once would have been asleep. I have the thrilling feeling of the night before Christmas when I was a child. Audrey and friends will arrive at half past eight to coincide with the arrival of the skip. We will then set to work filling it to the brim with the remnants of my past. I can hardly wait. Really it is so thrilling.

When the work is finished and we are cleaned up and changed we will all go for a joyful and extravagant lunch to celebrate.

After lunch when all friends bar Audrey have gone back to their day, the shopping will begin. Bright and tasteful delights will fill my home from now on and Audrey will help me to choose. Sitting on a bench in the kitchen I have a pile of magazines, all dedicated to home decoration.

It is time to be rid of the grey and lifeless. No more dark, no more beige, welcome green and blue and red and all the colours that bring joy in the most tasteful manner I can accomplish.

Until next we meet,

Kate.