Monday, 25 June 2012

Weekend away

I swallow my reservations about going away with Virgil but my fears are realised when he has to work for most of the weekend. And when he doesn't have to work, he is preoccupied. Virgil's favourite thing about the weekend: the swank, minimalist hotel I find for us. It has a swimming pool on the roof and the best blackout blind in existence. We sleep cocooned in darkness until late each morning. 'Nine hours!' crows Virgil happily and gets back on his laptop. He keeps remarking on what an excellent choice of hotel it is.

I wander grumpily around a city I hadn't thought to visit. I explore winding streets, stone facades and tree-shaded walkways. I sit in cafes deciphering menus. I read my book. I remember months of solo travel and the pages and pages I would write in cafes and parks to pass time spent alone.

In large art galleries for which the city is famous, I revisit archaic art, Old Masters, Impressionists, Cubists, Modernists. Eventually I get bored with biblical scenes but it's always exciting to see paintings only encountered before in books: it's a bit like running into an old friend in an unexpected place, except that it's Henry the Eighth or Aphrodite. I study the guidebook and when Virgil takes occasional breaks from his work conduct him on mini-tours, mostly to eat.

In the early evening, after I come back from my solo-excursions, we spend time on the rooftop terrace with its swimming pool and a small group of guests who don't seem to care about leaving the comfort of the hotel. Virgil works again and I hide my annoyance behind sunglasses. I order expensive drinks while I wait for him to finish. I consider making him pay for them but eventually settle the bill myself. I try to be philosophical: it seems spoiled and curmudgeonly to sulk in a five star hotel. .

'What can I do to make you feel better?' asks Virgil. 'At this point there is fuck all you can do and I'd like you to leave me alone,' I snap, finally. Then I feel I have to explain this so I say: 'You put me under a lot of pressure to come away and now you you're spending most of the time working. I feel sorry for you but I'm really disappointed.'

'I'm so sorry,' he apologises. 'But I really didn't think that I'd have to work this weekend. I'll take you somewhere else to make up for it. We could go to B__.'

'I've been to B__,' I say, then: 'But I've always wanted to go to R__. You could take us there...'

'Right then!' said Virgil, 'We'll go to R__.'

Then I say: 'The truth is, Virgil, that I don't care that much about going to a city. We live in a big, noisy city. Why do we need to go and visit another one? I agree that it's good for us to go out and have fun together but we need to reconnect. We don't need masses of distractions. Five star hotels are comfortable but I'd much rather spend a weekend camping with you or being somewhere peaceful.' 'We'll do that too,' he says gamely (Virgil hates camping). 'We'll go on a retreat together like you suggested. I know I said I wouldn't before but I've changed my mind. I want to be close to you.'

On the final night he has a business meeting. I go to bed alone and lie in darkness wondering whether I should give up on this relationship. All the heart-stopping moments that come into my mind when I think about giving it up, the memories that make me feel that I cannot possibly step back from Virgil and admit that we have had the best of our time together, they are all memories from our early days. None are recent. I feel enormous love and care for Virgil but also frustration at his limitations. I wonder whether this is normal, whether it's allowed. I still want to be with him. My own limitations and imperfections are much worse. We're just two flawed human beings trying to do our best, and not even that all the time.

I am usually very good at falling asleep except when waiting for Virgil to come back from somewhere. This annoys me. When he returns he is delighted that I am awake. 'You waited up for me!' he keeps saying. 'Stop taking the piss, ' I say. 'I simply couldn't fall asleep without you. It's different. If I could have, I would.' 

Then I say: 'Virgil, do you know what? I feel as though a big explosion happened and we have separated like planets. We're on different orbits these days.' 'Do you think so?' he asks quietly and I say: 'Our old relationship, the first age of it, is over. If we are going to have a relationship together now, it has to be a new relationship. We'll have to find each other again - if we want to do that.' 'Don't worry,' says Virgil, 'I want that too. I think we can do it.'

I say: 'Anyway, all I do is wait for you. I wait for you to want to make love. I wait for you to have time to see me, to have time to think. Waiting for you is what I do of late.' 

I know I'm complaining. I wonder whether if I felt more lovable I would act less like a monster and more like somebody someone else would want to spend time with. Virgil seems to think I'm worth spending time with though, because he shuts me up with kisses and we do make love, finally.

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