Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tension

Please help me. Elizabeth is having some kind of meltdown-level crisis because she did not get tickets to the big important A-list New Year’s Eve Party. Or the invite she thought she had fell through? I’m not entirely sure. There’s a party and Elizabeth MUST be there and currently has no in. She is freaking out in the living room. Clara and I were trying to calm her down. I left Clara to continue the task since she’s far better at it than I am. I’m thinking of calling Will to see if he can help. In the meantime, Dad is fretting over Ms. Dalrymple, our distant relation of importance (what does that mean? Dad and Beth say it all the time). He sent her a note and some flowers but hasn’t heard back and worries he insulted her in some way he failed to anticipate. He’s pacing in the den. I am hiding in my room and plotting my escape out the back door. It is very tense here!

Piano

I meant to post this video a few days ago but I forgot about it when we arrived in Bath.  Better late than never?  It's just a clip of some music Lacy requested I play on her piano. It's a Chopin piece that I was trying to play from memory and it's been ages since I've tried to play it, so you'll see me hit a few rough spots, but it was fun to see what I did remember.

I brought my digital piano with me to Bath and I'm trying to be diligent about my practicing. I fell so out of practice when I was working, I'm determined to keep it up now!

Click here if video does not show up below.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Speculations on Will

There is a little café in Bath that I love. It is tucked away off a hidden courtyard and is quiet and comfortable and has the best scones. It is so hidden that I wonder how it stays in business, but every time I am in town I visit and find it is still there. I never check in advance - walking into the courtyard full of uncertainty and hope and feeling a sense of relief at the sight of it is part of the magic. I made Lacy meet me there for tea because I needed to get out of the house.

Lacy, having met Will at the gathering last night, declared him to be the complete package, which she listed off as “good manners, bright mind, knowledge of the world, a warm heart, feelings of family duty and honour, no excessive pride”. She was sure he had been unhappy in his last relationship, but says she doesn't think he is embittered by it. She is entirely satisfied by him.

It took me a while to learn it, but sometimes Lacy and I can think very differently about things. I value her opinion greatly but I've learned not to take her opinions for my own. So, I wasn't totally surprised to find her pleased with all aspects of Will. I am alone in my suspicions about him and his motives for this reconciliation with Dad. Lacy thinks it natural now that Will is older that he wants to be on good terms with his remaining relations, however distant; family is something the young easily cast aside as being not worth the time and effort, but more mature men see it differently, she says. This could be the case, but it doesn't fully satisfy me. I suggested to Lacy that Elizabeth might be another reason for his return, but she was not ready to speculate on that.

To be fair, Will is not making any obvious moves on Beth. Maybe his painful breakup is too recent and he is wisely avoiding jumping into anything right away.

Whatever his motives or intentions, he is by far the most pleasant friend we have here. I have no one else, besides Lacy, that I can have a serious, interesting conversation with. He and I have had very pleasant conversations, we have talked over our meeting in Lyme at some length - he wondered if I remembered our meeting on the pier as well, where I said I did and accused him of ogling. He admitted being guilty as charged and said he was likely to be a repeat offender.

The worst I can charge him with at the moment is that he cares too much for rank and social standing, like Dad and Elizabeth. He read in the society section that some ‘important’ woman had arrived in town and reminded Dad that she is a distant relation to the Elliots. After that was said a whole day was lost in trying to figure out how to introduce ourselves to the woman and get into her social network. All I heard all day long was ‘our cousin, Ms. Dalrymple’

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Just Another Guest

On entering my Dad’s new house, I was curious to know if Will and Elizabeth were starting a thing, but after being here for a few hours a more important concern came up for me…. A suspicion that something was going on between Dad and Clara, despite the enormous age gap. As I approached the dining room for breakfast today, I caught this exchange:

Beth: There is no reason, really Clara. I much prefer your company, in any case.

Dad: Dear Clara, you cannot go, you've seen nothing of Bath. You must not go now. You haven't even met Mrs. Wallis yet!

Something about the look on Dad’s face as he said this, and the look of gratification on Clara’s face at being encouraged to stay made me worry. Clara could not resist this pressure and so agreed to stay longer.

On the one hand, maybe I’m crazy and it’s nothing. On the other hand, why should I object if Dad wants to find a new partner, he’s allowed… just, not Clara. I can feel her maneuvering - she is after a comfortable situation in life and I don’t think she cares about any of us in the slightest. Imagine if they were to marry and she were to become the new head of the family! I comfort myself by remembering that my time living at home is temporary and I can escape when needed, should it come to that. Elizabeth seems completely oblivious to all of this, or else she is fine with it and is encouraging her friend by keeping her here. Interesting that they rented a place with enough bedrooms so both Clara and I can be here.

Lacy expressed the same concern to me about Clara being here and we talked about it, but what can I do? Is it even my place to interfere? I’m just another guest myself really. Possibly a less welcome one.

Deep musings for another time - I have to get ready – Dad and Elisabeth are having a small party tonight and I am expected to make an appearance.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

In Bath

Lacy and I arrived in *Bath today. I decided to leave my car at Lacy’s for now, so she and I traveled together and had time to talk. I told her my decision to go ahead with my non-profit rather than pursue grad school. She paused for a moment and said: “Anne, I know sometimes our opinions differ on things, and on this matter I advised a different course, but I also know you can do anything and I’m really looking forward to seeing you be stunningly successful with this project. Just promise to tell me how I can help.”

Lacy has been a rock in my life in so many ways. I don’t know where I’d be without her. It’s a relief to have the decision made and have her behind me.

We arrived at the townhouse late in the afternoon and Dad and Beth actually seemed glad to see me! (I think they were excited to show off the house.)

Beth’s friend Clara is still here and was all smiles and pleasantries, as usual. I shouldn’t be unkind, but it bugs me that she’s here, that Beth (and Dad too, I think) enjoy her false smiles and flattery and can’t see that she is not real. I don’t know what the real Clara is like, but the side we see of her is definitely not real - it is too polished and perfectly adjusts itself to whoever is in the room.

Over dinner I learned that no one had any interest in news from the Lodge. Aside from a passing, polite question about how Mary and her son are, they didn’t want to hear anything. They were much more interested in telling Lacy and I how much better their townhouse was than any of the places they had been to, how the interior had been designed by someone famous, the carpets were from somewhere exotic, etc. And apparently the entire social scene of Bath was mad about the Elliots being in town. Invitations poured in, I was told. Every party had to have them.

It’s so hard for me to sit through these conversations - where I am talked at about things that don’t matter to me at all. So much time and energy spent on such things…. I don’t know. I always think before I arrive “I will do better; I will listen with interest to the things that matter to my family, that is what one does.” And how hard is it to sit and smile and ask questions about whatever they want to talk about? It shouldn’t be hard, but I find it almost impossible to bear. I am hardly even required in these conversations. Am I wrong to be annoyed by this? I want to be with people who have an interest in my thoughts, my interests - maybe shared interests even!

They spoke of Will Elliot, at length. He is now considered to be without fault, it seems. So I must credit him with being good at making amends, at least! I listened to their description of him and his explanation for his previous behaviour with some skepticism, knowing it was being embellished, but curious still. Apparently it was all a misunderstanding - imagine that. I think it’s strange that previously we were not worth his knowing, and now we are all BFFs - there must be something behind that. He has just separated from his partner of several years, and I think Elizabeth was interested in him years ago, so perhaps that has started back up? Some comments by Clara to Beth made me think that Beth was entertaining this idea as well.

I attempted to tell them of my encounter with him in Lyme. It went roughly like this:

Me: You know, I think I bumped into Will in Lyme, we were staying at the same B&B-

Beth: Oh, yes, perhaps it was him. I think he mentioned traveling recently. It might have been him. You know, when he was here for dinner last Friday, he wore the most beautiful Armani suit, it was divine, and cut so perfectly.

Clara: Well, he certainly has the physique to pull off a look like that.

Beth: Yes, he is in very good shape. It’s terrible when men don’t take care of themselves.

Dad: He does look more worn and haggard than he did five years ago, I have to say. He was kind in saying that I haven’t changed at all, but I can’t return the compliment, I’m afraid. Which is not to say he is bad to look at - he looks a good deal better than many of the men I see in Bath!

Clara: If only all men were so lucky as you, Walter. I’m afraid you will always be surrounded by those who look rough and worn, while you stay as young like Peter Pan!

Dad: Clearly the women in Bath are unaccustomed to seeing any men worth looking at based on the effect of a one decent looking man arriving at a party! It’s shocking that a town like Bath attracts so many shabby looking people. We haven’t even spoken of the women - so many ugly women! Anne - how is Mary looking? The last time I saw her she had a red complexion. I hope that doesn’t happen every day.

Me: Oh no, that must have been accidental. Generally she has been quite well and looks good.

We were having this very stimulating conversation in the living room after dinner when the doorbell rang - at ten o’clock. Clara asserted, while elbowing Beth, that it would be Will, and she was right. And it was definitely the same man I met in Lyme.

He explained his late visit by saying he was visiting a friend nearby and thought he would pop in to see if Elizabeth was feeling okay, as she had been complaining of a possible cold when he last saw her. It was all done with great charm and good humour. Elizabeth confirmed she was feeling well, and Dad introduced me. I blushed, as I always tend to whenever a fuss is made over me. Will turned to look at me and started slightly. A cute look of astonishment settled on his face, answering my question of whether or not he knew who I was when we met in Lyme, which goes to show you what a small province this is really.

Will: But we know each other already, don’t we, Anne? This is funny! I’m very pleased to meet you and have a chance to get to know you better. You know, I spent a very solitary night at that B&B, listening to your party have a great time. I thought you must be a fun group and I wished I had had the courage to try to join you; I had no idea I had an acquaintance in the group! That will be a lesson to me to stop being so reserved and shy in hotels - if I had just I asked who you were, the name Musgrove would have been clue enough.

He sat next to me and asked about my time in Lyme and at my reference to an accident he pressed to know more. Dad and Elizabeth began to question me about it also - although previously they had had no interest in it at all. Will’s interest was more akin to Lacy’s - a desire to actually know what had happened, and expressing concern for what affect it must have had on me.

I admit to being quite surprised by how well my first night in Bath went.

* not actually Bath, just an alias place name

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Thursday

(Lacy's tree)
Christmas has never been a big deal for my family. I mean, we always did all the stuff: the tree, the presents, dinner. But it wasn’t the big hooha that it seems to be in the movies. After mom died, it became sort of automated. Dad hired someone to decorate the house, including the tree. I remember watching the staff decorate the enormous trees every year being so confused as to why Dad would pay someone to do one of the best parts of Christmas for us. His personal assistant does all his shopping (she has good taste and isn’t extravagant, so probably better than if Dad did it, to be honest). Dinner was a catered affair, if it happened at all. After Mary moved out, Dad and Beth preferred to travel somewhere warm for the holidays.

I've never found my place at Christmas. I've tried traveling with them, but it feels empty and dull. I've had a few nice Christmases with Mary and Charles and the Musgroves, but it’s weirdly depressing to be around a functional family at Christmas and see how lovely a holiday it can be, but still be just on the sidelines yourself, just an observer.

All this is to say I have low expectations for Christmas, and kind of dread it in some ways. It’s built up so much as a joyous family time, and when your family doesn't fit that model… it just makes you feel like a weirdo.

This year I’m staying with Lacy and she and I will have our quiet holiday drinking eggnog in our pajamas while we watch bad holiday movies.

I’m quite keen to get past the holidays and get to Bath. When we first came up with the plan, I really didn't want to go to Bath. I know no one will be glad to see me there. At least at the Lodge, I am warmly welcomed, and appreciated for my company, something I don’t get with my own family. Beth has been emailing me sporadically and all she writes about is the social scene - what parties she has been invited to, what gala events, who is there, who is dating who, etc. It’s just so not of interest to me.

One curious bit of information, she has mentioned that Will Elliot has visited them and we are all on friendly terms with him again, apparently. Whatever Will did to offend Dad has been made up and they see quite a lot of him now. I admit that this news has cheered me somewhat - I wouldn't mind meeting him, which is more than I can say for anyone else in Bath, frankly.

Anyway, what changed my mind about Bath? No, not mysterious Will. I came across a model literacy program that I really want to visit and learn from - and it’s in Bath! It’s just the kind of program I have in mind - fun and effective and well organized. I’ve contacted the coordinators and am hoping to start as a volunteer there in January. They get amazing results and I’m very keen to see how they run. Fingers crossed I can connect with them.

Merry Christmas (or whatever other holiday you may enjoy celebrating)!
Alternatively: happy Thursday!

Whatever you are up to today, I hope you are happy and surrounded by those who value you for the extraordinary person you are.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

News and Gossip

I was on the phone with Mary earlier today and she gave me all the latest news about Louisa. She appears to be progressing slowly. She is well but still far from her usual hyper self, apparently. Mary said that Ben is spending a lot of time with them all and was asking about me, said he was considering a trip into [ski town where Mary lives] but gave up the idea when Mary told him I had left already. Mary is certain he is interested in me and is trying to get up the courage to visit. She thinks I should email him and invite him. I assured her that Ben and I got on fine - as friends, and that he is not interested in me that way. The surprising news is that Wentworth has left Lyme. According to Mary, he said he thinks Lousia will improve more rapidly without him there to remind her of the accident. He has gone to stay with his brother for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Life as a House Guest

There is something strange about being a house guest for an extended time. You begin to feel like you exist just for others - that if they stopped needing or wanting you, you would just vaporize into nothingness. I’m struggling to get work done on the business plan for my non-profit idea, I find it hard to carve out any regular time in my schedule, find it hard to concentrate when I do get the time. I've decided to give it up for the holidays and try again after Christmas.

One of the great things about staying at Lacy's is her beautiful mini grand piano. It is stunningly beautiful, isn't it?  It's from 1915 or so and has been passed down through her family. Lacy doesn't play but she takes immaculate care of it and encourages me to play it whenever I'm here. It's tricky to play, feels very very different from my digital piano and from the modern grand piano at Dad's house, so I don't feel like I do very well on it - but it's still a privileged to play a piano with such history. I wonder about all the things it has seen in its years, sitting in various grand living rooms.

Lacy and I visited the Crofts today. I thought it would be awkward, visiting at my own house, but the Crofts are taking excellent care of it, and in some ways seem more deserving of it, seem more appreciative of it. In any case, it was nice to see them again. They assured me that hadn't made any changes at all except to remove a mirror from the master bedroom. Mr. Croft offered to let me tour around so I could be satisfied all was well. It was very nice of him but not at all necessary. Though I haven't known them long, I can tell the Crofts are good people and I trust them.

Wentworth had told Sophy (Mrs. Croft) about what happened in Lyme and had led her to believe that I had done something extraordinary after the accident; I told her it was nothing, that I had simply made sure someone called an ambulance.

Mrs. Croft: “If you say so, Anne. But I’m sure Wentworth said you were the only one in the group who behaved sensibly - that people were fainting all around and you kept your head. He even said he was useless and if it hadn't been for you, they would probably all still be standing on the beach wondering what they should do.”

I laughed at this, but really was quite lifted up - to know that Wentworth was able to think and say positive things about me…

Mr. Croft mentioned they will be away over the holidays, so there is no risk of me running into Wentworth while in the neighbourhood at Lacy’s. I can relax. I imagine Wentworth will be spending his time in Lyme where Louisa is.

Monday, December 22, 2014

In the City

Lacy came - it’s so good to see her again! She stayed for lunch and did her best to humour Mary, whose hypochondria flared up after all the time spent in the hospital in Lyme with Louisa.

I left the cottage and the lodge and headed back to the city today with a strange mixture of feelings - remembering the cozy warmth of the Musgrove family dinners, the pain of seeing Wentworth again, the hints of friendship with him starting again (maybe?). I know he can’t forgive me and we won’t ever be close, but it seemed he could perhaps reconcile to being acquaintances at least. Whatever small piece of friendship we could have would be better than nothing at all.

After the drive to her house, we sat down with some tea and discussed the accident in Lyme for a while. Lacy asked about Wentworth. I could tell she was worried about us meeting again, about how I would handle it. I found it easier to discuss everything after I mentioned that Wentworth and Louisa seemed to be a couple. Lacy repeated Lousia’s name with the snobby disdain that sometimes creeps into her speech. I suspect she thinks less of Wentworth for once admiring me and now admiring Louisa.

I realized, as Lacy and I were talking, that I had so completely immersed myself in life at the lodge that I had hardly given any thought to the things that had been so important to me before arriving - including Dad and Beth. I’m trying to decide if this makes me a bad person or is an admirable feature of being highly adaptable to wherever I find myself.

I relayed to Lacy what I had heard via email from Beth. She and Dad are very pleased with their townhouse in the new part of town at the top of the hill. They literally look down on everyone in town. I am pleased because the rent is quite a bit less than what we are getting for Elliot Hall. Beth sent me a bunch of photos of the place but I haven’t looked at them in detail. I’ll be there myself soon enough anyway.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Moving Forward

Mary and Charles returned this morning, much to my relief. I love my nephew but he is exhausting. The Musgroves are all still in Lyme, but Lousia is recovering and felt overwhelmed with so many people hovering around her.

Louisa’s break from extended family is temporary however. The Musgroves decided to spend Christmas in Lyme, to take their usual holiday festivities to Louisa. Mary insisted loudly that Charles and their son go too, so everyone will be heading back there in a few days. While holidays with the Musgroves are usually quite lovely, this year I have decided to spend Christmas with Lacy. The Musgroves don’t need extra people around right now and I could use some time away.

Lacy and I will have a quiet holiday together – she already got us tickets to go a special Christmas concert of some sort and I’ve compiled a cheesy movie marathon for us; it will be great. Mary didn't seem to mind one way or the other, having gotten her way on their going to Lyme. My family isn’t that sentimental about the holidays.

I did all my Christmas shopping early, like I always do, so I spent today wrapping everything for Mary to take with them.

I have to admit that I feel like I’m blowing in the wind here. Ever since I sold my condo, I’ve been bouncing around based largely on what is convenient for others. I mean, I’m grateful for having people in my life that welcome me to stay, except that I feel as a modern, independent woman, I should be taking control of my life and doing something decisive. Do modern, independent women get shuttled around from relative to relative? I have to remind myself that this is temporary, and all for the sake of my literacy program.


Speaking of which and of being decisive - I’ve decided something. I am going to go ahead with my original plan, to try and get my own program off the ground. I love the idea of getting a more solid academic footing first, but I don’t think I absolutely need to. I think that what I need right now is to be taking action. So I’m going to go for it. I've put away the grad school application forms and I've refocused my energy on my business plan and funding applications. I am going to make this happen.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Dull Stone

I've been getting regular text updates from Charles, who is very good to be thinking of keeping me informed. Louisa is has been awake for short periods and should make a full recovery but they are taking it a day at a time. Wentworth is still in Lyme and Mary suspects this accident will speed up his wooing, making him realize how fleeting life is, etc. (Mary actually said ‘etcetera’ in our phone call)

I was up at the Lodge the yesterday, fetching some toys my nephew left there during his stay and I sat at the piano for a bit to practice. I couldn’t help but remember the cheerful parties the Musgroves have had there, and how soon the rooms will again be filled with everything happy and full of love - Rietta and Hal, Louisa and Wentworth. I feel so apart from all this - like a dull stone in a collection of shiny gems. I do not seem belong in places that are full of laughter and love; I don’t know why.

Injury

Sorry - should have posted this on Thursday night!  I'm taking care of my nephew solo at the moment and haven't had any time!

-------------

I’m back at the cottage (Mary & Charles’). Leaving *Lyme did not go as planned. We were out walking one last time with Harvey, Sara, and Ben. We were all sad to be leaving and wanted to walk along the water one last time.

Harvey walked with me and thanked me for taking the time to draw Ben out of his shell, getting him to talk. He said Ben hasn't been this animated in a long time. I told him it was my pleasure and I offered my condolences for his sister. He mentioned that it had been Wentworth that had delivered the sad news to Ben. That Wentworth had flown to meet Ben and tell him in person, knowing his friend would be devastated. He brought Ben home and stayed with him for a week. I replied with something wholly inadequate but I was thinking - of course that’s what Wentworth would do.

The short form of what happened next is that there was an accident and Louisa sustained a head injury.

The long form is as follows. She was being silly and playful, as she often is; she insisted on jumping down from some stairs onto the stony beach where she wanted Wentworth to catch her. He tried to talk her out of it, worried he would drop her. But she insisted on having her way and jumped. Fortunately, he caught her. Not long after, she ran up the stairs, higher this time, called Wentworth’s name and jumped again, but this time he was not expecting it, was not ready for it and he only half caught her and then stumbled and fell. She knocked her head on some rocks and passed out. Mary started screaming. Rietta clutched my arm and froze. Wentworth was kneeling over Louisa, asking for help. Everyone was at a loss, so I told Mary to calm down, I got Charles to take Rietta off my arm, told Wentworth not to move Louisa and suggested someone get an ambulance. Wentworth caught the idea of an ambulance and pulled out his phone. I put out my hand to stop him and charged Ben with calling as he could better tell them where we were. Wentworth nodded and Ben handled the ambulance.

Once I was relieved of Rietta's death grip, I went to see how Louisa was. I didn’t want to move her in case she had a spinal injury, so I checked her pulse, listened to her breathing, and tried to peer underneath her head, looking for blood on the rocks. I reassured everyone that she was breathing.

Wentworth looked at me with desperation, asking what he should do. I told him to go up the stairs to watch for the ambulance and direct them to us so no time was wasted. With nothing else to do but wait, I held Louisa’s hand and hoped for the best.

She went to the hospital and was still unconscious when I left, though the doctors were optimistic she would be awake soon. Wentworth’s look of relief and unrestrained ‘thank god’ at that news keeps playing over in my head.

There was a great debate over who should stay and who should return to the Lodge as planned. Charles called Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove to tell them what had happened. Wentworth offered to drive back immediately to get them so they wouldn't have to make the drive themselves on the icy roads. They were grateful for the offer and it was arranged that Wentworth would go right away. He offered to take anyone that wanted to return to the Lodge, as the hospital was limiting visitors and most of us were just in the way. I overheard Charles and Wentworth discussing it.

Charles: I have to stay, but Mary should go back, she will need to take our boy from the Lodge.

Wentworth: I think Anne should stay too, she is the best person to help nurse Louisa when she wakes up, there is no one more capable.

Charles: I agree. Anne will be most useful here. Rietta I’m unsure about.  I know if Louisa wakes up she will want her, but she may need to return for work.

Wentworth: I defer to you and Rietta on that, Charles. I will go fetch my car and meet whomever needs a ride out front.

Wentworth came out of the room and found me in the hall. He petitioned me to stay and help Louisa and his usual icy demeanor to me in that moment had vanished. I was so surprised at the warmth in his voice as he asked me to care for Louisa that I blushed. I managed to somehow convey that I wanted to stay to help.

And yet, here I am at the cottage. Mary was told of the proposed plan for her to come home and she took exception to it, took it as a slight to her nursing skills. She claimed closer friendship with her sister-in-law and would not be talked out of it. So, as always, I yielded to make peace, I offered to return to take care of my nephew. It just isn't worth fighting Mary on these things - the more you oppose her, the more stubborn she becomes and the more unpleasant she makes it for everyone.

So Wentworth pulled his car around to the hospital entrance and found me waiting instead of Mary. He was surprised and I had to, with great embarrassment, tell him that Mary felt she should stay and that I had agreed to go instead. He looked like he was about to say something, but decided not to. He simply nodded and opened the passenger door for me.

We made the trip in silence except for Wentworth saying suddenly:

W: “I should have stopped her; such a stupid accident! She was so determined, but I should have talked her out of it!”

I told him he shouldn't blame himself, that Louisa is very set on having her way and it was simply an accident. He nodded but said nothing else.

The rest of the multiple hour trip passed in silence, both of us lost in our thoughts, CBC radio provided cover for our lack of conversation. A few weeks ago if you had told me I would be sitting in a car with Wentworth, silent, and generally relaxed about it, I would have laughed in your face. I have hardened myself to his cold shoulder; it doesn’t cut me the way it initially did. Funny how quickly you can adapt to even the most absurd or painful situations.

As he turned onto the road leading through the woods to the lodge, he spoke to me again.

W: I think we should call Charles before we go in. See if there is any update we can relay to their parents. What do you think?

Me, shocked to have him asking my opinion: I think it’s a good idea. Any comfort we can give them will help, I’m sure.

I pulled out my phone and dialed Charles as Wentworth slowly drove down the road. I managed to get Charles right away and he said that Louisa was not awake yet, but the scan showed no swelling, which was excellent news. He said his parents didn’t know yet and we were welcome to tell them. I hung up and relayed this to Wentworth. He dropped me off at the cottage saying he would have someone bring my nephew over shortly. And that was it, he was gone.

My nephew has finally gone to bed and so I am able to think over the events. How extraordinary it is that things can change so quickly - a happy promenade along the beach can suddenly be a nightmare.

I wonder if this accident has caused Wentworth to consider revising his previous opinion on the awesomeness of a character that is totally unyielding, if perhaps he now sees some merit in allowing others to influence opinions and actions?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Heading Home

I really love Lyme*. And I’m especially glad we are here in the off season so we don’t have to share it with anyone. It’s peaceful here, and like all seaside places it provides that edge where you can stand and stare out at the vast expanse and have your existence put into perspective.

I was out this morning for an early walk to the beach with Rietta to watch the tide and we ran into Wentworth and Louisa who were doing the same thing. We all made our way to the pier together. While going down some stairs to the beach, we passed a well-dressed guy who politely stood aside to let us go first. I thought I caught him checking me out as I went by, and when I turned away I saw Wentworth frowning as he watched him watching me. Can’t tell you how much my ego needed that little boost!

Then, when we were back at the B&B later, I bumped into a guy in the hall and it was the same guy! He recognized me, I think, and smiled (he had a lovely smile) and apologized for being in my way. We exchanged pleasantries and then Louisa called me to breakfast and I said goodbye. While eating breakfast, we saw luggage being loaded into an expensive sports car out front. Wentworth looked out the window and remarked that it was the guy we saw on the pier (he looked at me as he said this, but I didn’t react).

Mary was curious and asked the B&B staff who it was who had just left and we were told it was a Mr. Elliot who was on his way to Bath*. Mary got overly excited by this news - supposing it to be our distant cousin, Will Elliot.

[Our exact relation is complicated - his step-father and our father are cousins, I think. Dad used to fuss over the fact that we aren’t related by blood, only by marriage, but given the dearth of offspring in our family tree generally, he decided he couldn’t be picky. As neither Mary, Elizabeth, nor I have taken any steps to follow in Dad’s business footsteps, it is largely assumed that Will is the business heir apparent - for a time Dad was grooming him as such. Except Will snubbed Dad somehow several years ago and they haven’t been on speaking terms since. I was busy with school so I don’t know exactly what happened, though I do remember Elizabeth having some hopes centered around Will that also didn’t pan out - as Will started dating someone seriously (’some bimbo from the suburbs’ as Beth put it). It was all very drama-filled at the time and I happily ignored it all, as I tend to for all silly family dramas.]

Mary was excited to have almost run into him and went on about his good taste in cars and other nonsense. I tried to quiet her down about seeing Will, who she has never actually met herself, by reminding her that we are not on good terms with him and Dad would most likely be displeased to hear of our encounter. Mary realized I was right and stopped gushing long enough for another conversation topic to start. Personally, I’m pleased to have met him, however briefly. He actually seems like a nice guy; not the terrible, undeserving cretin that had been described to me. At least he makes a good first impression. Or maybe this place and the good company have just put me in such a good mood that I am exceptionally willing to move past old faults.

Sadly, we leave the island today and head back to the Lodge. Far too short a trip.  (I think Bandit is enjoying it here too.)














* Not actually Lyme or Bath, these are alias place names

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beautiful

There has always been something about places by the ocean that make me feel at home. This place in particular, although I've never been here before, just feels right.

There is nothing in particular about the buildings in the town that are worth admiring, it's the situation of the town with respect to the sea - with the main street hurrying into the water - that is so wonderful. The line of the cliffs stretching out to the east of town is what catches your eye.

On the ferry over I heard someone complaining about having to come to Lyme; what a strange person one must be who doesn't find this area entrancing.

I was feeling a bit unwell over the weekend - a cold that my nephew brought home from a friend that Mary caught, then me. But being here, being by the ocean, I think is very good for my health.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Change of Scenery

This was written late yesterday - I meant to publish it but must have fallen asleep before I could.

---------------------------

So, first of all, it is terrifying to discover that there are enough of you reading this to make that many suggestions in the comments on the last post. I’m doing my best not to think about it. Let’s blame comment spambots; those are a thing, right?

We arrived in Lyme* late today. It’s off-season so most of the little town is shut, but we've taken over a large B&B and the ocean is there year round, so I’m content.  Rietta managed to get time off her job so it's all of us - Rietta, Louisa, Mary, Charles, Wentworth, and me.

After dropping our bags at the B&B the next thing to be done was unquestionably to walk down to the sea. The town itself is not very remarkable, especially when it is all closed up for the season, but as you reach the water and see the view – the hills stretching out to the east, you can’t help but fall in love with the place. We lingered by the water despite the chill, as one must when arriving at the ocean.

Then we went to meet Wentworth's friends and they were super nice and welcoming. We met his buddy, Harvey, from university - they started Wentworth's first company together. And Harvey’s wife Sara who is a teacher. And Ben, another business friend who is staying with them. Ben was engaged to Harvey’s sister, but sadly she passed away last year while Ben was abroad on a project. Ben is pretty depressed about it, understandably.

We hung out at Harvey and Sara’s place and it was a wonderful evening. Seeing Wentworth’s friends so happy at the sight of him, seeing them all happy to be together was very uplifting. Harvey and Sara and Ben are all clever people and it was a lot of fun listening to them tell tales of their early years together as the boys tried to get their company off the ground.

I spent a good part of the night in one corner with Ben, who was not quite up to being as cheery as the others. Eventually, after some careful questions, I drew him out and discovered that he and I share some nerd things in common, including a passion for reading, a preference for science fiction over fantasy, and a secret enjoyment of zombie movies. We talked about books and tv shows. He tried to convince me to try reading graphic novels. I tried to suggest that he try reading some more lighthearted stuff (he did jot down some book titles and promised to check them out). I found myself at one point giving advice on how to heal a broken heart, which seems funny to me but he took me seriously and seemed grateful to have someone to talk to about it.

It was a really nice night with great company. As I sit here now, with everyone else in bed for the night, I can’t help but get moody and stupid and note that these great people would be my friends too, if I had stayed with Wentworth. Is it stupid that the loss is somehow compounded knowing that I missed out on great friendships too?

*not actually Lyme, this is an alias place name

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Trip!

Just as I was claiming to be glad to be away from here, a great idea has come up!

Wentworth has good friends on a nearby island that he is going to visit and there is talk of making a group trip of it: Louisa, Rietta, Charles, Mary, and myself. Everyone is very excited, including me. I've always meant to visit this place, but you know how it is with places that are near where you live - you always put them off while visiting further away places instead.

Can I say how very tiring it is to supply code names to everything in my life for this blog? It’s hard to keep them all straight sometimes! I’m nervous I’m going to publish a post with someone’s real name and blow the whole thing. That would be embarrassing.

How about you guys come up with the code name for the town we’re going to visit?  All three of you can go nuts with suggestions in the comments.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Surviving

I've been busy this week looking after my nephew. Mary's nanny has flown to visit her family for the rest of December and Mary can only handle my nephew's exuberance for a few hours at a time before she needs relief so I'm doing what I can. I'm struggling to find activities that keep him occupied, but we're getting by.

Louisa came over today and helped out for a few hours which was really nice. She got him down for his nap and we had tea and a nice chat. She admitted that she's having doubts about her plans to study abroad next semester, wondering if it would be better to stay here. She said she is worried about leaving her parents alone, since Rietta and Hal are probably moving away for work next year. I'm not sure I was much help in the advice department. I tried to remind her how excited she was recently about the opportunity travel and live somewhere new, but that I know her parents would love to have her nearby.

She mentioned just before heading back to the lodge that Wentworth wouldn't be around for the next few days. Apparently he was contacted by a local business incubator and he's spending a lot of time meeting with start ups and young business people, providing advice and feedback on their proposals, whatever he can do to help.  He's giving a free workshop today and has meetings tonight with some folks he started mentoring a few weeks ago. Louisa seemed down about not seeing him for a while, but they have a date for Friday at the very posh, romantic restaurant in town, so she's surviving.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Back When I Dated Charles

Uh, there has been a bit of a flurry in my inbox in relation to my Dec 7 post, demands for an explanation about Charles and I. Yes, I guess that is a surprise to you all!

So, Charles and I did date for about a year.

We’d known each other for ages since our families are friends. The summer before my final year of undergrad he and his dad were at the house, visiting. Totally normal. We got to talking and he asked me out to dinner at a new restaurant. It wasn't until we went to see a band at a club a few days later that I clued in to the fact that he had more than friendly hanging out in mind, which was a new thought to me, to be honest. He’s a nice guy though, and I was single, so we did become a couple. It’s weird to think about it now because he’s my brother-in-law and, it’s just, I don’t know, hard to believe I ever saw him that way.

It was pretty casual dating and I went back to school three weeks after that first dinner date and we hardly saw each other for eight months, so I don’t think anyone would classify it as a serious relationship. I didn't. He tried to visit me at school but I was super stressed out by 4th year and basically requested that he leave me alone until I got through it (I put it more politely than that). After graduation I got my job and moved back to my hometown where he was waiting. He and I went out to dinner soon after I got back and he did this very sweet proposal involving bouquets of roses and dessert with a ring on it and I nearly choked on my drink. It’s like I’m always on a different page from everyone else, or I’m last to get the memo or something. Because there was Charles, proposing, while I was wondering why we were even dating, or if we were even dating given the eight month break in our nine month-long relationship.

Charles had decided that we were the perfect couple. That I would make a great wife because I had a respectable but useless degree so I could hobnob with his lawyer buddies but wouldn't be all ‘career crazy’ myself (he said something to this effect during the proposal). He had told his family about his plans to propose, had asked my dad’s permission; it was a whole thing. Everyone knew.

I kind of ran out of the restaurant half way through his proposal. There’s no good way out of that kind of situation. I had previous experience with accepting a proposal and reneging so I wasn't going to do that again. Saying no in front of a restaurant full of people keen to say ‘awww’ and applaud for us seemed terrible. Running seemed like the best idea. So I ran. And there was crying. And I felt horrible. 

Charles, to his credit, handled it very well. I think he viewed marriage as a business arrangement, so I didn't break his heart; he just started scouting for a new partner. He and I had had plans to go to a concert a week after the proposal debacle and I gave my concert ticket to Mary…. And that is how I got an ex-boyfriend as a brother-in-law.

I was a bit nervous the first time I came to stay with Mary and Charles, thought it might be weird, but it’s fine. I’m not sure I ever really thought of Charles romantically. He happened to ask me out when I was single and lonely and he was nice – the fact that we had no chemistry was chalked up to ‘you can’t have everything’. 

He and Mary are a good match in many ways so it worked out best for everyone!

Countdown

Soon I’ll leave here to go to Bath. I won’t mind being outside the Musgrove social circle, to be honest. Time to move on.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Ice

Louisa and Rietta came by the cottage today to see if I wanted to go for a long snowshoe hike with them. Mary had a bit of a snit at not being asked, though the girls were just being polite since Mary is constantly complaining that she can’t do long walks. In the end we all went.

It was a lovely day for snowshoeing - sunny with cool, crisp air. Before we even reached the woods we ran into Charles and Wentworth who abandoned their plans and joined us. We walked slowly toward the trail while the boys went to the cottage to get gear and caught up with us. Wentworth hiked with Louisa and Rietta of course, and I was with Mary and Charles.

Mary and Charles were bickering about something or other, which left me to listen to the conversation between Wentworth and his ladies, such as it was. Louisa and Rietta are wonderful people, I really do like them – they’re kind and generous and curious about the world and other people. But I do wonder a bit at Wentworth, that he doesn’t want more… depth in his partner. He used to be nerdy and loved nothing better than attending an evening lecture on how technology could be used to build stronger community. Louisa and Rietta are still both very young (20 and 23) and while they are fun and outgoing, they do not have any of the seriousness I would think a successful man would want. But what do I know of successful men and their wants?

Our long route took us near Hal’s family chalet and Charles said he was going to stop in to have a quick chat with Hal about a golf trip they are planning. Mary refused to go with him, pointedly saying to Wentworth that she “doesn’t associate with that family”. (Wentworth looked unimpressed at her snobbery.) Charles next looked to Rietta to go with him. Rietta hesitated and Mary applied pressure for her not to go. Louisa stepped in saying of course Rietta should go. She had a word with her sister and then Charles and Rietta headed off while the rest of us wandered around the hilltop. Mary and I went to look for a comfortable place to sit, as Mary complained she was tired. Wentworth and Louisa took another path together.

Mary and I found a pretty spot on a fallen tree tucked into a little grove, but after sitting there for a few minutes, Mary was convinced Louisa had found a better spot and went in search of her. I stayed put, tired and happy for a moment alone. I was enjoying sitting in the quiet of the woods when I heard Wentworth and Louisa on a path down below. Louisa was chastising her sister for almost allowing Mary to talk her out of visiting Hal.

Louisa: I would never let someone talk me out of something that I wanted.

Wentworth: Good for you - I can’t stand people who are easily persuaded away from what they want.

Louisa: Oh, I know! If I want something, I go for it; I won’t let anyone stop me.

Wentworth: I’m glad to hear it. I think you’ll do well if you think that way. You have to be determined to get ahead in the world, know yourself and what you need.

They walked out of earshot at this point, and when they wandered back, the conversation had changed.

Louisa: Oh Mary, she can be such a pain! With her Elliot pride and constant worry about whether someone is good enough to associate with - it’s so annoying. You know we all wish Charles had married Anne instead; we all would have liked Anne better.

Wentworth, stopping: What do you mean?

Louisa: Of course, I forgot you wouldn't know! Charles was dating Anne and proposed to her first! But she refused him and ended the relationship. Somehow he ended up with Mary not long after.

Wentworth: When did this happen?

Louisa: Oh, four or five years ago, I guess. I was away at school. We all think Lacy Russell had some hand in Anne’s refusal, that she persuaded Anne that Charles wasn’t smart enough. In any case, now we are stuck with Mary. But it’s better when Anne is here - you should see Mary when Anne isn't here; oh god.

Then they moved out of earshot for good. I was very glad to be alone at that moment. Hearing my character drawn out like that - as though Lacy dictated my life, was pretty mortifying. Is that what people think, that I’m incapable of forming an opinion on my own?

But hearing Wentworth express some curiosity about me also caused some feelings.

Charles and Rietta returned, with Hal. Rietta and Hal were holding hands and appeared to have made up. So the walk back was Rietta and Hal, Wentworth and Louisa, and Charles and Mary and I. Nothing like being the third wheel - or the third person on a trail wide enough for two. I was having a pretty miserable time of it, to be honest, having twisted my ankle slightly earlier on. Our trail back crossed the main road and we all paused there to catch our breath and see who it was that was driving up. It turned out to be Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove. They kindly offered a lift to anyone who was tired and in need of a more comfortable way home. We all refused. Wentworth spoke to Mrs. Musgrove briefly and she turned to me and insisted that I let them drive me back.

Mrs. Musgrove: Anne, you have to let us drive you. You can’t walk home on an injured ankle. We won’t let you refuse.

I tried to protest but she wouldn’t hear it, and then I felt Wentworth’s hand on my back, gently guiding me towards the car. He opened the back door for me, looking away. I took off my snowshoes and got in, thanking him and the Musgroves.

I think I understand him. He can’t forgive me for what I did, but he isn’t unfeeling. He noticed my ankle was causing me pain and he wanted to see me comfortable. Even as he falls in love with someone else, he has heart enough to want to at least make sure I am not in pain - despite how badly I hurt him.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Friends

I drove back to the city today to meet up with a friend I haven't seen in ages. It was a much needed day of lighthearted fun - catching up over lunch, hearing about her recent travels (I really need to see more of the world), helping her do some Christmas shopping for her enormous family.

She asked how things were going with me and I told her a bit about my recent awkward encounters, but I didn't dwell on it. I realize I've been focusing the blog on that aspect of my life because it is one of the things that hits me hardest in my otherwise quiet life, but it is not all consuming. Wentworth is here and sometimes it's awkward (for me, he's able to be relaxed and socialize with the others), but I'm learning to live with it, I'm growing a thicker skin. If you had told me three weeks ago that I would be regularly having dinner in his company and not conversing with him but also not being reduced to a stuttering mess by his presence, I wouldn't have believed you.  Quite often we're at the same table and I'm having a normal conversation with Rietta or Mrs. Musgrove and Wentworth is at the other end of the table having his own conversation and it is all quite  normal; he's just another guest at the table. Amazing what time can do. Amazing what weirdness can become normal with enough repetition.

When I told my friend a bit about the awkwardnesses, she called Wentworth a jerk for behaving the way he is. I see why she thinks that, he is being cold, and making this harder than it needs to be. I would rather just have the one awful conversation and try to clear the air and move on, but I think he's still hurt and angry about what I did. I can understand that. In some cruel way it is meaningful to me that he cared enough about me for my actions to cause this degree of pain - not that I meant to or wanted to cause pain, but in all the years since that happened, I had kind of convinced myself that he probably didn't care about me as much as I thought he did. Now I realize that was wrong.  I mean, it's too late now, but having an accurate understanding of the past is worth something, right?

Anyway, my friend and I had a wonderful day together. Life is not all awkward encounters!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Cold

It was a lovely day. I walked over to the lodge this afternoon. I was going to see if Louisa wanted to go for a walk, or if she was busy to spend some time practicing piano at the lodge. As I was crossing the driveway, a car pulled up and parked. It was Wentworth. He paused at his car, then shut the door and walked towards me. He couldn’t avoid me since we were both walking to the front door.

Wentworth: Hello.

Me: Hi.

We walked, quickly, towards the front entrance of the Lodge.

Me, struggling to keep up with his long strides: Visiting Louisa?

Wentworth, after a long pause: Yes.

We reached the door at this point, so I rang the bell and let us in, as is customary. We waited in the vestibule for a minute in awkward silence. He busied himself with taking off his gloves and undoing his jacket, studiously not looking at me. It was an intense few minutes – being in the same room as someone I was on the verge of sharing my entire life with and now we were unable to even look at each other. It felt like there was an electric fence between us.

Our solitude was broken when Louisa bounded in, all smiles, as usual.

Louisa: Hi! Oh, both of you are here! Hi Anne!

Me: Hi. Sorry to surprise you, I came to see if you wanted to go for a walk.

Louisa: Oh, that’s a nice idea; it is lovely out, isn’t it? But I already planned to go for a drive with Wentworth to visit [town name redacted] - didn’t I tell you? Do you want to join us? It’s going to be so much fun!

Me, hazarding a glance at Wentworth and seeing his face carefully turned away from me: No, no, you guys go ahead. I told Mary I wouldn’t be long, she’s expecting me to look after my nephew for a bit this afternoon.

I excused myself and ran away. Went for a walk in the woods by myself. Walked until my limbs were numb with cold. Wishing I could as easily numb the rest of me.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wherein Mary's Head Explodes

We play the guess-who-Wentworth-likes game at the cottage here, but I know the real answer. It is neither. I am the outside observer at every evening gathering and outing and I can see he's not that serious about either of them. Oh sure, he flirts with them and enjoys their attention, but it is not serious, certainly not love, not yet. Hal seems to feel differently, however, and has not been at the Lodge for a few days. Mary is thrilled by this.

Here’s how last night's conversation at the cottage went:

Mary: Clearly he prefers Rietta - she has a degree, she is more capable of having a serious conversation. A guy like Wentworth is going to want a girlfriend who can hold her own with his business associates. Louisa is pretty and fun, but she would be utterly out of place in a networking party.

Charles: Louisa easily makes friends wherever she goes, Mary, I think she would do fine with Wentworth’s business buddies. Wentworth spends more time with Louisa - yesterday they went out for a walk in the woods together while Rietta was working.

Mary: Well that doesn't mean anything - if Rietta was working he didn't pick Louisa for the walk, did he?

Charles: He came to the Lodge knowing only Louisa would be there.

Mary - not having a rebuttal to this, changes the subject: When is Louisa leaving for Europe - is it January or February?

Me: She leaves in early February.

Mary: Oh yes. You know, I overheard Wentworth recommending she visit Eastern Europe - he said she should go to Latvia. Latvia! What an idea. What is there to see in Latvia - what great works of art? Something better than she’ll find in Florence or London or Paris? Wentworth is very nice but sometimes he has very strange ideas.

Me: Louisa has 6 months, it’s plenty of time to see a bit of everything. I’ve heard Eastern Europe is very charming.

Charles: I agree, I was in Prague on a business trip once - fabulous place. Great beer.

Mary’s head exploded at this point, what with two people disagreeing with her opinion. She felt a headache coming on and spent the rest of the day on the couch demanding tea.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

They Aren't Here

For all the times I have been around Wentworth recently, we have never been alone, until today. Well, mostly alone.

I was in the living room with Bandit whose injured paw I was cleaning. Wentworth entered and stopped just inside, clearly surprised to find me alone.

Wentworth: Sorry, I thought Louisa and Rietta were here.

Me, staring at him, stunned and unable to speak normal sentences: Uh, no. They aren't. Here.

Wentworth: I see.

Bandit: whine

Me: [continue cleaning paw, desperately try to think of something sensible to say to Wentworth]

At this point Wentworth has gone over to the window and is looking out for the others. I would desperately love to leave the room but have to finish tending to the dog. I am suddenly very self-conscious about everything - my plain hair that is pulled back into a ponytail, my plain outfit - jeans and an old sweater…. All very plain and boring. I felt very drab.

Wentworth: I hope your nephew is feeling better after his accident?

Me: Yes, thanks. He is getting better. Getting into trouble again, actually-

Then Hal enters.

Apparently everyone was expecting Louisa and Rietta to be at the cottage.

Hal says hello to me, nods slightly to Wentworth and sits in a chair with a newspaper, ignoring everyone.

Wentworth, who initially looked hopeful of conversation with someone other than me, returns to his window. Hal is emanating waves of dislike towards Wentworth and I’m failing to think of anything to say to cut the tension in the room.

I’m kneeling by the couch, trying to quickly bandage the paw of the fussy dog when the door opens and my nephew runs in. He makes a pest of himself, trying to climb up my back, putting his arms around my neck, pulling on my ponytail and generally being a headache. I order him to stop but he doesn't, he keeps hanging off me and pulling on my hair. I can’t get my hands free to deal with him. Hal tells him to stop, but he doesn't, in fact, he sticks his finger in my ear and I’m about to swear in front of him. Then I felt him being physically removed from my back. Wentworth took him to the other side of the room and entertained him with a toy. Wentworth kept his back to me while talking with the boy, making it clear he did not want my thanks.

It was a small act of kindness, but it is the first kindness Wentworth has shown me. I left the room as soon as the Louisa and Rietta arrived a few minutes later.

I find I need time by myself to get over these emotional hiccups. Such a trifle, right? He saw a kid being annoying and stepped in to help - like anyone would. Except Hal didn’t. Still, I’m ashamed of myself for getting so emotional over such a trivial action. You would think that no one ever showed me a bit of kindness before.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drama

Oh the drama. I feel like I am live bogging a reality show. Normally my trips here are very quiet and restful: family dinners with the Musgroves and occasional guests, walks in the woods, time with the nephew (not so restful), and lots of time to read and work. This year, it is very different.

So Rietta has this guy she has been sort-of dating - Hal. It’s not clear to me if they were officially dating or casually dating, or just hanging out. Anyway - she has this guy that she has some kind of relationship with. He’s been away working and she hasn’t seen him for three weeks. He came by last night for the first time since returning and it was… awkward. He found Wentworth also at the Lodge and found everyone smitten with Wentworth, including Rietta.

Wentworth is guilty of working his charms on both Louisa and Rietta and it’s not clear to anyone who he prefers. Rietta is prettier and closer in age, but Louisa is more outgoing, and I don’t know Wentworth well enough now to guess which is more likely to attract him. Charles and Mary like to debate the issue. Mary likes to speculate he prefers Rietta, but I suspect that is because she doesn’t want to see Rietta with Hal (his family doesn’t pass Mary’s test for social standing). Charles puts his money on Louisa, despite the age difference between her and Wentworth.

It was very painful watching Hal try to rekindle Rietta’s interest while Rietta was constantly distracted by something Wentworth did or said. I tried my best to converse with Hal and cover for Rietta’s lapses in the conversation, but Hal was clearly aware of the shift in attention. Wentworth, to be fair, knew nothing of Hal and Rietta, and as far as I know there is nothing official to know about Hal and Rietta.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Images

Last night after dinner Rietta, Louisa and I made the drive to the local pub with Wentworth.

I tried to get out of it but Rietta was insistent and they needed a designated driver, so I went.  Thanks for the help with my poll about that yesterday, by the way. I got some sage wisdom through that, actually. My fave "Go out with them and show Wentworth that you're an interesting, self-confident person who does not need his company to have a good time. I believe in you, Anne!"   Wow. That actually made me think about my reasons for wanting to avoid going. Someone else pointed out that it's best to just get over the awkwardness with Wentworth. I totally agree, and I've been trying but he is so cold and just refuses any attempts on my part to even be normal-level friendly. How do you get past awkwardness when someone is throwing ice-daggers at you every time they look at you?

Anyway. I went with them. Harboured delusions that it might be fun, even.

Once there, she and Louisa were desperate for some dancing so they fed the retro jukebox to get a Madonna song and pulled Wentworth onto a dance floor while I held our table, watching them with a smile fixed on my face as Wentworth flirted with both of them.

At one point I was on the phone with Mary, who was trying to get me to come home and make her tea, and I thought I felt Wentworth staring at me - probably observing all the ways in which I have aged poorly. I heard him ask “does Anne dance?” to which Rietta replied “Anne? Oh no, she gave up dancing years ago.” It made me sound like an old grandma, but it’s true - Rietta and I used to hit the dance floor together a few years ago, but I've stopped. Clubs and dance floors have lost their appeal.

They didn't dance for long - Wentworth talked them into games of pool -Wentworth with one of the girls and me with the other, with Lousia and Rietta switching teams every game. Notably no one suggested I be on Wentworth’s team. I wonder if anyone notices how weird it is between him and I? Anyway, I’m a terrible pool player - except for the occasional very lucky shot that makes me look like a pool shark. Wentworth is quite good, so he tried to teach his teammate how to make a good shot. It was exactly what you are picturing - him leaning over Rietta/Lousia to adjust their grip on the cue - not in a skeevy way, not gratuitously, but in their personal space. Needless to say no one was fighting to be on my team.

I’m working hard during this to be agreeable, to have fun, but it was hard. His cold politeness is so hard to bear - I sometimes wish he were openly angry with me instead. With everyone else he is lively and charming, funny, witty, kind, and fully of interesting anecdotes, with me it is icy civility and nothing more. To have him be this way and pretend that it doesn't affect me, it’s exhausting. I slip away for occasional moments - to get a drink, to go to the bathroom, to vent on twitter, anything that will give me a few minutes where I don’t have to smile and pretend that I’m enjoying watching all this.

I came home and went to bed and was finally free of having to put on a happy face for everyone, and then I lay in bed and am confronted with the images of Wentworth with Louisa or Rietta, his hand on theirs, his smile at something they say. All these images.

(Special thanks to @EstherJoybelle, @mayusteapot, @RoxiOnti who helped distract me via twitter last night!)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Help!

Help.

Rietta and Louisa are trying to talk me into going to the pub in town with them tonight. 

There is a 97% chance that Wentworth will be there also. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Changed

Wentworth has been at the lodge a lot - several dinners and evenings, a few afternoon outings. He doesn't speak to me except to say the most basic civilities. We are strangely together a lot and yet still worlds apart. I found myself sitting next to him one evening as a few of us were going to play cards. I tried to chat with him - not about anything serious, just something beyond ‘hello’, but he made an excuse to get up and change seats. I took the hint that he wanted our relationship to start and end with ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and I didn't push it.

There was one evening, early on, when Louisa or Rietta asked him to recount his career, starting with where he went to university. He mentioned the year of our engagement while doing this and didn't falter at all but it must trigger reminders for him, even if all the old feelings are gone, right?

It hurts, that someone I was so close to, someone who is so good, is perpetually estranged. We are worse than strangers - since the possibility of ever being friends has been removed.

I find it so hard to meet people I connect with, who I can have interesting conversations with, be understood by - I can’t help but be sad that I have lost that. I am reduced to making comments about the weather and anything more is expertly avoided by him. I hear his conversations, they are always the most interesting ones in the room, and it kind of kills me that I can’t participate. He and I used to have great debates, I miss that. Now he gets gushing enthusiasm from Lousia, occasional thoughtful questions from Rietta, but no one really challenges him; I wonder if he likes that. Maybe. Maybe he has changed.

I need to stop thinking about this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bandit Tuesday

Bandit now reliably comes to me when called. (Except in cases of squirrels, understandably.)

She doesn't behave that well with Charles even, so I consider this quite a good character reference for me. Or possibly it is commentary on the reliability of me having the good treats in my pocket.

It reminds me a bit of Mary's approach to parenting except my nephew knows how to get the treats/toys out of her without obeying (spoiler: lay on floor, have very loud tantrum).  Charles complains to me about this pretty regularly, hoping I can get Mary to spoil their son less, but Mary is not a disciplinarian, especially not if it causes anyone discomfort. My little nephew is growing up in an environment with a diversity of parenting approaches, it will be very interesting to see how he turns out!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bad Blogger

I've been a bad blogger, I know. Q&A and photo posts don’t a proper blog make.

I wanted to run away. I admit it. Wouldn't you? If Wentworth is staying here and hanging out with Rietta and Louisa and Charles… wouldn't it just be better for me to be somewhere else?

I thought so and I still think so but I also don’t want to be chased away. I’m a grown-up and I can handle a little social discomfort. I'm not going to be chased away from my own family and friends. I’m sucking it up and sticking it out for now. 

I'm going to focus on making progress on my literacy program proposal and not get caught up in distractions. I need to use this time to get my business plan done so I can start applying for funding.  I know I’ll have a harder time getting work done in Bath – being immersed in Dad and Elizabeth’s world always hampers my productivity. Here, all I have to do is skip out on the activities and work instead. Like Sunday - Rietta invited me to go for a hike with her and Louisa and Wentworth. (Mary was upset not to be invited too and I had to remind her that she was taking her son to a friend's birthday party.) I turned down Rietta's invitation and spent the afternoon doing some good, solid work following up on the advice of my old professor who reviewed my proposal. Easy, right?

But I reserve the right to run away later.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Time to Move On?

I've been wondering if I should move to Bath earlier than planned.

I've visited Mary up here before, but usually just for a week or two. I've been here a month already and have another month to go, according to the original plan. I could easily drive myself to Bath at any point. 

I’m sure Mary and Charles are sick of having me around. I know Dad and Elizabeth would be surprised and put out if I showed up a month ahead of schedule, but they'd come around to the idea.

If I can find a way to do it without Mary getting offended, I think it might be the best thing to do. I'm distracted here, not getting much work done. Time to move on, right?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pancakes

Sometimes it's best to start the day with blueberry pancakes.

That's what my nephew said and I'm obliging. I think it was a fine idea.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Alone in Public

Tonight everyone (Rietta, Lousia, Mary, Charles, Wentworth) is going to a local distillery for a tour and tasting.

I was supposed to go but I made excuses - said I had a friend in town I was meeting.

So I drove into the little village centre, found a cafe and am enjoying some solid people watching for a bit.

I just wanted to get away from everyone without being alone. Coffee shops are great for that - being by yourself without being alone. Solitary walks in the woods are nice, but sometimes you want to be around humanity without having to put in the effort of conversation or smoothing over aggravations or pretending to be unperturbed by what’s going on around you.

Also, there are lots of brownies here.

And look at the adorable mug my tea came in. Way better than whatever whisky is served in, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Q&A #3

It’s been a while and I don't really have the heart for a proper blog post....

Q1: What does Wentworth do? How does he have so much free time?

Wentworth is an entrepreneur, although that word seems inadequate for what he really does. He has great ideas and makes profitable companies out of them. I can’t get specific without giving away identities - but he’s started a few small companies, all very different, all filling an unmet need. But it’s more than that - they are companies that do things differently…. he manages to be successful without appealing to the lowest common denominator - the usual path to success. His companies all have a social enterprise or community building aspect to them as well - creating training opportunities for under-skilled workers, or employing chronically unemployed people. His companies prove that a business can be successful while contributing to the community rather than just being a black hole of resource sucking.

The free time thing is because he’s taken time off to recharge. He’s basically been working like a maniac since he and I parted ways eight years ago and he was about to burn out, so he handed over the reins of his latest venture to a partner and is spending time enjoying life (and, one assumes, getting his next great idea). He sold his first company for enough money to set him up for a long time, so a year off is easily done financially. Based on conversations I've overheard - I think he’s having a hard time relaxing and getting into the slow pace of normal life; being a workaholic. He seems happy here because he can go hiking or biking every morning, which I guess makes it easier to be idle and socialize in the afternoons and evenings.


Q2: Why do you call Wentworth by his surname?

Like the others I blog about, I've made up a name for him to preserve anonymity, so Wentworth isn't actually his name. It is paralleling what people call him in a way though - he got a nickname in university that sounds like a surname and it stuck. It's actually really weird to hear people call him by his real first name. (Everyone here has switched to his nickname already.)  So 'Wentworth' is a pseudonym for a nickname really.


Q3: Can I post I picture of Wentworth?

I really can't, sorry! This is an anonymous blog, remember and Wentworth is kind of well known.


Q4: What does Wentworth look like?

What can I say that isn't too much of a giveaway? He is tall and commands attention when he enters a room, but somehow does so modestly. When you talk, he focuses on you and really listens – that is the secret to his charm, he listens so intently and genuinely cares about what you're saying. He’s friendly but not a pushover. He has dark hair that he lets get too long so that it’s always causing him grief. When he smiles, which is often, he gets one set of very obvious dimples and when he is trying to suppress a smile he gets an entirely different set.


Q5: How long have I played piano for?

As long as I can remember. My mom put each of us in lessons of various sorts and music stuck for me. (Elizabeth quit piano a few years in and moved on to dance for a while, then riding lessons, then tennis and so on until Mom died and she was free to focus on her real passion: shopping. Mary quit piano quickly, tried dance for a year, and I remember one hilarious day when Mom suggested she join Girl Scouts. She did not join Girl Scouts.)

I love piano. I had to be bribed to practice as a kid, like all kids, but around, oh, twelve or so, I embraced it. When I’m at the piano puzzling out a piece or playing something I know well, my mind clears and it is just music. I can’t play piano and think about other things. It’s kind of meditative that way – an escape from the hamster-wheel chatter of my brain. When I need to escape something my brain is doing, I sit down and work on a complicated piano piece. Sometimes I don’t have the patience for the complicated or technical stuff and I will sit and play whatever matches my mood – which can be dangerous, the piano can amplify what you are feeling very powerfully.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cut in Two

The Musgroves have people over for dinner constantly. We probably have half of our family dinners over there, and usually there is another guest or two to help keep the conversation fresh and lively.

Tonight the guest was Wentworth.

I tried to quietly find out in advance if he would be there, like I've done with every dinner invite over the past week, but I couldn't get a clear answer from Mary or Charles. Just in case, I put a bit of extra effort into looking nice, though I know it’s pointless.

We were late - Mary had an issue at the last minute where she felt unwell and had to be talked into coming anyway, with much flattery about her fortitude in persevering through hardship and how the party would be pointless without her.  In any case, we eventually coaxed her into going to the party.

We entered the living room and found everyone gathered around the fireplace, with Wentworth, Louisa, and Rietta at the card table. Mary launched into a description of her stomach ache to which some perfunctory soothing things were said and then a change in topic was artfully introduced by Mr. Musgrove by asking Charles a business question.

Rietta: Anne, come join me! You’re so good at this game, come be my teammate. Wentworth is ruthless.

Wentworth laughing: Well the game is called ‘Asshole’.

I approached the table and was about to sit next to Rietta when Wentworth got up suddenly. 

Wentworth: Please, take my hand; I need to discuss something with Charles.

The words “take my hand” nearly gave me a heart attack and I’m sure I turned bright red. I couldn’t bring myself to look him in the face. Wentworth also seemed to be flustered by the words that had come out of his mouth; he stood for a moment before going to sit by Charles and Mr. Musgrove.

Louisa - general protesting at Wentworth leaving.

Rietta: That’s too bad; he’s fun to play with. Will you take over his hand, Anne, or do you want to start over?

Me, still flustered: Oh, uh, I’ll take his hand.[more flustered] He was winning after all, wasn't he?

Rietta: This isn’t going to go well for me. You and Wentworth are both sharks at this game. We’ll have to get him to play again later - I’d love to see what happens when you two play each other!

Despite my excellent hand, I managed to lose the game.


It normally would have been the kind of evening I really enjoy - conversation and some games with friends, lots of laughs. But I was constantly on edge because of Wentworth. I couldn't help but strain to overhear all his conversations, such that I struggled to hold up my own. I spent every moment wondering if he would say something to me, look at me, anything. After dinner when the board games came out, he contrived to never be on my team. In fact, he so artfully managed to avoid interacting with me, I began to remember when we dated how he was so expert at avoiding his brother who wanted him to help at the market. We would laugh at the lengths he went to.

I thought about cornering him somewhere and just saying what I wanted to say. I wasn't sure what that was though. I wanted to clear the air somehow. But what could I say? I had broken off our engagement, that was a fact. What could I say that would make that any better, eight years later? But at some point in the evening, I resolved to speak to him. If we were going to be hanging out together over the next week or two or longer, it was silly to play this game of pretending we didn't have history.

Late in the evening he was pouring himself and Charles some whiskey by the sideboard. I went over. In my head I had decided to say “Wentworth, I wanted to say how sorry I am for what happened all those years ago; I hope you can forgive me and be friends.”

I approached him, quietly, apparently, because he started and splashed whisky on the table when I said his name. He turned and I got as far as ‘wanted to’ before my voice completely failed me. He was staring at me with such intensity - was it hatred? It was the first time we had made eye contact - really looked at each other in eight years. I was swimming in so many emotions that I couldn't say anything. It didn't matter anyway, the moment lasted only a few seconds and he frowned and walked away without a word.

I felt like someone had taken a sword and sliced me in half. I didn't think I could return to company and carry on a conversation so I quietly slipped out to the vestibule.

It was so strange - staring into those eyes again after all these years. The hours I used to spend studying his face. But that expression, it was ice and it was aimed at me.

Piano Practice

No words for today. Here is some piano instead - another practice session clip.

Click here if the video doesn't show up below.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Answers - My History With Wentworth

I was hoping I would get to skip out on this part of my history, but it appears determined to come up. 

There have been several emails asking for the full story of my history with Wentworth, invoking Rule 3 of the blog: complete honesty. Given how unsettled I have been by running into him again, it’s probably clear that saying ‘we dated’ doesn't sum it up properly.

So here it is.

Wentworth came into my neighbourhood to stay with his brother for a summer and we met by chance at the produce market his brother owned. Our connection was instant. 

This was eight years ago. I was 19, he was 23. I was about to go off to university, he had just finished.

Without getting all misty-eyed and silly, I will just say that I loved him, and he loved me. We spent every free moment together and talked about everything. Nothing could have been a greater contrast with the fitful high school relationships I had. Wentworth and I were honest and open and real with each other from the very first second. There were no games. It was comfortable and electric at the same time.

We would spend our free days finding places to be alone. He took me to a provincial park and we kayaked out to an island, had a picnic on the beach and pretended the rest of the world didn’t exist. We spent hours walking around the city, talking. If we weren't together, time dragged until we were. 

After a summer together - 4 amazing months - he proposed and I accepted. I knew that being with him was the right thing and marrying him seemed perfect.

I was persuaded by my family to retract my acceptance. They were convinced that at 19 I wasn't ready for marriage. Besides me being too young, they had other objections. From their point of view he was a young man fresh out of university with no way to support himself, no industry connections to speed his success along; he just had some crazy ideas and grand notions about his ability to realize his dreams. Dad would add that he came from a family name of no importance and was of insufficient social status to be marrying one of his daughters.

All this I could have withstood except Lacy’s argument that I would hold him back as he strove for a breakthrough in a tough industry. Wentworth was an entrepreneur and had beautiful dreams of changing the world by demonstrating that ethical businesses could be successful. He had just come out of the ‘cesspit of greed’ that was business school (his words) and believed even more strongly that he needed to prove he was right, to change the way the world did business. To realize his dreams, he would need to have years of late nights and intense focus on work. I didn't want to hold him back. He had great ideas and vision and ambition; he was going to change the world and I believed in him. I thought it was my duty to free him from the burden of me and I did it with great difficulty, out of love, and – in hindsight – out of stupidity.

I believe Wentworth thought I didn't love him. He certainly felt wronged and left town angry without giving us time to work through it or me a chance to properly explain. 

I never heard from him again. 

It took me a long time to recover from the loss; and my single status at 27 may hint at whether or not I ever found someone I liked better. I haven’t been sitting around pining after him, I've just never connected with anyone the way I did with him and I’m not interested in a relationship that lacks that.

Now, after all these years of silently following his success online (he was right - all his crazy ideas panned out and every company he started turned to gold), he is here again. Not for me, certainly, just coincidentally socializing with people I know which puts us in company together.

He has charmed everyone - they all see in him now what I saw eight years ago. He has apparently also found some of the Musgroves charming, because I’m told that he will be staying in the nearby resort town for a few weeks. He has an open invitation at the Lodge and we anticipate him to be there frequently.

I simultaneously live for and dread our first conversation in eight years.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hard Truths

Louisa and Rietta came by today and happened to mention something that has been very helpful.

Lousia: Anne, you know we asked Wentworth what he thought of seeing you again, because Mary mentioned that you met him years ago, and, you know, he wasn't very nice!
Not Me! Photo by kroszka, filter by me

Me: oh really?

Rietta: That’s right! He said you had changed to so much he wouldn't have recognized you. Not a very polite thing to say.

Me: <mortification>

But really, I think it’s good to hear this.

Partly because it is true - I’m not the blooming youth I was when he and I met. While the years have added to his looks, they have only taken away from mine - I admit this; it’s how it generally is for men and women. I’m glad to hear this report, hearing his words sobers me up. All that wondering - is he thinking about me, is his being here reminding him of that time eight years ago - clearly the answer is that he has moved on, no warm feelings remain. And I have moved on too, really. I went on and lived my life, I hadn't really thought about him in years until all this. Now I feel like every blog entry I write is that of a gushing 16 year old. I’ll have to stop being silly and act like a grown up.