Upside Down & Insight Out
So, here’s the deal: I cannot even tell you all the stories I have heard from straight women who see “Elena Undone” and either get smacked upside the head and must confront their sexuality IMMEDIATELY…Or that watch “Elena Undone” or “A Perfect Ending”, “Claire of the Moon” and then go on quite a journey to their sexual identity. Francesca not only made contact with me; she also donated generously to my upcoming film which we are working on at the moment called “Nesting Doll.” We wrote back and forth and I’m happy to now call her a friend. This is another way in which I am rewarded by what I do. I have made so many life-long friends over the past 25 years from people I meet at screenings, people who have come to the set, folks who have written to share their feelings about my work. Read Francesca’s story. I’m sure you will find her as delightful as I do:
Summer 2016. Back from holidays, feeling blue, grey rainy Belgian weekend and all my friends away. What to do? Netflix seems to be the answer.
Scroll through new releases. A title and a name catch my eye. A Perfect Ending, and Barbara Niven. Although I had seen Barbara before I didn’t know her by name, and wondered about the surname, as my mother had worked and become friends with David Niven on the set of 55 Days at Pekin in the1960’s. Wondered if there was a connection so looked it up on wikipeadia and yes, she had been married to David’s son.
Decided to watch the film and was immediately mesmerised. For the first time ever I felt whoever had written the script had a deep knowledge of the female psyche. Back to google to find out more about Nicole Conn. I have never been a “fan” type of person but I felt compelled to thank her personally for her work. I looked her up on Facebook and managed to send her a message. I also sent a friendship request which was accepted.
And here the plot thickens. A few days after befriending Nicole I see on my Fb page a friendship suggestion that catches my eye. People I may know: Vicky …. Now during my college years studying in England I shared a dorm with Vicky …. We’re good friends but had lost track of her when I left England. It never occurred to me that this could be a different Vicky and I immediately sent a friendship request. And she accepted me. I didn’t immediately talk to her, but through her posts I started to doubt she was the same Vicky I had known in college. I looked at her profile more closely and saw that she wasn’t the same Vicky, as first and foremost she was 10 years younger than me, but also, she lived in the US, and I saw that our friend in common was in fact Nicole Conn.
But my curiosity was piqued when I read that she was in fact Belgian, as I have lived in Brussels for the best part of 30 years in the European Institutions. At the same time, and unbeknown to me, Vicky was also curious about me and she sent me a message asking me whether in fact we had met at some point in Belgium. She told me she had moved to the States with her wife and had been living there for the past 18 years.
We struck up a friendship from the very beginning, and although I had a feeling she had assumed I was a lesbian too, I didn’t say anything as I felt it would be rude and dismissive to tell her I wasn’t, without her having made any mention of it.
For a couple of months we chatted every day. For long periods of time. I started to feel a very deep connection to her which went beyond friendship. I was falling in love with a person I had never met, obviously on an intellectual level, but very worryingly for me at the time, someone of my own sex. And she seemed to be falling for me.
We eventually had the “I havent really asked you before but you are a lesbian aren’t you? Well, now that you ask, “No I’m not and never have been” conversation.
We decided to meet in person, as Vicky was coming to Europe for a short visit.
I was so worried on so many levels…. and yet I needed to know if my feelings were real.
And they were. For the past 10 months we have been flying back and forth between Florida and Europe, getting to know each other, getting her kids to know me, and in 2 months time she will be moving back to Brussels for good. And we will be tying the knot officially on May 12.
I am 53 years old and my life has been turned upside down and inside out. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am in love. I am happy.
Thanks to a Belgian rainy August day. Thanks to Netflix. Thanks to A Perfect Ending. And especially thanks to the person who wrote it and unbeknown to her has changed the lives of a couple of people forever. THANK YOU NICOLE.
Photo: Francesca & Vicky