The Girl In The Blue Dress
A little over three years ago, in a boring event that was really a competitor analysis in disguise, I had a moment that is so cliched they’ve milked it in every single rom-com movie.
I saw this incredibly beautiful girl wearing a blue dress, walking across a bar.
And time literally stopped.
For that moment everything quietened down, the scenery was blurry and the only thing moving was that beautiful woman in that blue dress.
Single and living in London, I did what I assume anyone who has had a time-stops-still-moment would do…
That night, I went home on my own and slept in torn pyjamas diagonally across the entire bed.
You see, she was there with someone else.
Who apart from looking like her girlfriend, was also beautiful, intelligent and I could swear she looked like someone who plays the classical piano.
So nothing was the right thing to do.
Fast forward some weeks and I was at another event doing much the same.
After a couple of hours of genuine disappointment, it was a great venue but a shit event. My colleague and I on our way out, stumbled upon the girl in the blue dress (GITBD) as the host, mostly there looking after the VIPs.
With no bravado, it was my work colleague who approached her on the pretence of offering her work (sorry for outing you dude) and started a conversation. It ended like normal people would do and she handed over her business card.
What was I doing, I hear you ask?
I did what I assume everyone does when they meet the love of their life — I held the coats.
That night, I walked home on my own and slept in my torn pyjamas spread diagonally across the entire bed. But not before telling my colleague that GITBD had a partner. That was on a Friday.
Monday was unexpected.
GITBD writes colleague an email, colleague handballs said email (has a gf remember?) and I pick up said email with nosey fascination.
There’s something very different about this girl.
We send a few emails backwards and forwards and it’s on email #3 where we started talking about travel and our families, that I realised what that something is — she’s genuine, she’s got a beautiful heart, she’s sincere, a breath of fresh air and quite likely someone I will fall in love with if our email conversation reaches #5.
So I did what I assume everyone does when they’re emailing the love of their life — I cut it short.
“We’ll email you if we hear of anything” knowing full well there would be nothing.
That night, after the gym I walked home on my own and slept in my torn undies spread diagonally across the entire bed. And told myself to forget this girl, she’s clearly not the one for you.
I didn’t contact her again.
She became a distant memory, like time lets you do. But one I never forgot. You don’t forget people like that.
Fast forward 3 months of sleeping alone, diagonally and often in torn unmatched pyjamas. When out of the blue, on a day like any other, I receive a new email.
“Hi Mariella, remember me?”
I looked behind me nervously as if this was going to be some cruel joke.
Like I was about to be Punk’d. All I saw was a yellow/greyish wall that had remnants of blue tack and bits of paper that got yanked far too quickly.
In my head I replied with a:
How could I forget?
With a racing heart and my blood racing to my feet, I said to myself: act cool, Mariella — go get a drink, email her in 5 minutes.
So I replied straight away (so much for cool).
Little did I know that from that moment on, there would not be a day that I didn’t speak to GITBD.
That night I went home alone and slept in my torn pyjamas, diagonally across the bed. Except this time my heart was pounding in my chest — it wasn’t an anxiety attack, it was singing.
To tell you the full story of how our love developed, I’d have to sit you down and steal 3 hours of your life.
Because it was a chase.
I wasn’t the one chasing, I was the oblivious one being chased.
But I couldn’t get it through my fat head that someone like GITBD would ever want anything romantic to do with me.
She was beautiful, elegant, eloquent, sincere, had a million interests, talented, travelled, spoke 4 different languages and she could make time stop.
What was she going to see in short, tubby, geeky, brown shoe loving, t-shirt wearing me that works for shitty pay and loves a good dad joke?
Something she saw (I think it was the dad jokes). Because what happened next was the romance people swear doesn’t exist.
It was the most intense, beautiful thing that I’ve ever experienced.
I shared her sentiment of having found my “missing piece of the puzzle”.
It fit, it worked, it made me complete.
I can’t tell you if time sped up or stopped because it didn’t matter.
Life made sense.
But then that same life… happened.
And it happened quickly.
My visa wasn’t going to be extended, she had just moved to London, I had just found the love of my life and now I had to get ready to exit.
I remember coming home with the bad news and it was a whole 30 seconds (the longest 30 seconds of my life) before she said “so I guess we’re moving to Melbourne” and with that began the most bureaucratic painful process I’ve ever had to go through.
But we said to each other — “it doesn’t matter what comes our way, as long as we have each other”. And that should have been enough, except it wasn’t… “life” happened.
Not just “life” what we deemed to be catastrophes, that slowly derailed us individually and then ate away at us together.
That wonderful love that people swear doesn’t exist?
We chipped away at it and we destroyed it.
At the age of 29 I found myself on a couch with GITBD speaking to a couple’s counsellor. There were no kids, no assets, no infidelities — just an incredible love that was so lost, that it didn’t make sense anymore.
She lost herself and went from being the beautiful girl who wore gorgeous dresses and did her hair, to the girl who wore an oversized hoodie, shed lots of weight and had her heart so broken that she wanted out.
I went from an avid gym goer with blind optimism, that wore brown shoes, to the girl who gained 20kg, drank a bottle of wine every night and had her heart so broken that she wanted out.
We stopped talking.
We stopped sharing.
We couldn’t believe how hard it was to stay connected to someone.
On a scale rating of connection we were in the negatives and sliding.
And we chased… while the other ran. Then we switched.
Then other ran and the chase continued.
We went from being Us vs The World to being Us vs Each Other.
That love that could move mountains was on its death bed.
We were burying it.
And we knew what we had to do.
We had to put it out of its misery — as everyone told us — love wasn’t enough.
So we did — twice.
And our counsellor begged us to stay away from each other. Because our pull was too strong. But we couldn’t.
Despite everyone around us telling, begging, pleading for us to let this go.
It didn’t make sense anymore, it shouldn’t be so hard.
We tried but couldn’t.
For the last 68 days, while GITBD visits her family and decides whether she should return, I have been crawling in to bed by myself, with mismatched pyjamas, sleeping diagonally across our bed, drooling on her pillow.
Maybe everyone else is right, maybe this doesn’t make sense, maybe it shouldn’t be too hard. Or maybe this is worth every single effort we’re willing to put in to this.
Maybe it won’t work.
Maybe this will be an expensive mistake.
Maybe love isn’t enough.
Or maybe not.
We don’t know.
All I know is that today when I watched GITBD’s plane leave Brazil to make the 36hr+ trek to Melbourne, I had that moment again.
The moment where time stops and nothing moves but the blinking plane on my mobile screen.
And I remembered that love and that moment — where I saw the GITBD in a terrible bar in London. And I remembered that love.
The love that got buried underneath the grind of life, the shit we didn’t expect, the hurt and the anger.
We’ve got no idea if this will work.
But I do know one thing.
Tomorrow night when I crawl in to bed, with mismatched pyjamas, sleeping diagonally across the bed, drooling on her pillow, she’ll be there. She’ll be there with her hand pressed on her face and the pillow lines imprinted across her face. Somehow she fits herself around my diagonal sleeping and doona hogging and she doesn’t seem to care so much that I wear torn pyjamas and drool on her pillow.
In the meantime I’ll watch her sleep, like I always have and I’ll be so grateful for that pull. For pulling that missing piece of my puzzle back from the other side of the world.
Tomorrow night I’m going to sleep complete.
Maybe love isn’t enough, or maybe it’s all you ever need.