December 15th, 1990

December 15th, 1990

At home, England

London is a magical place to be at Christmas, with twinkling lights everywhere, carol singers, the smell of roasting chestnuts on every street corner and the heavy bustle of shoppers, laden with gifts.

“Are you enjoying our day?” Richard asked as we meandered our way through Covent Garden.

“Very much so.”

“I hope you don’t mind but I took the liberty of making a reservation for something I expect you might enjoy.”

“Ooh, I’m intrigued.”

“Would you like to know what it is?” He asked.

“No, just surprise me.”

He looked doubtful. “Are you sure?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Ok, well we’ll go by taxi but I’ll discretely inform the driver of our destination so as not to spoil the surprise.”

“Do we need to go now?”
He looked at his watch and nodded. “Yes, we probably ought to head in that direction.”

“You’re taking me to a hotel?” I teased, as the hackney cab pulled up outside Claridges.

“Yes, but nothing sinister,” he smiled. “I promise.”

“Aw, that’s a shame,” I joked, making him laugh.

Over the most scrumptious array of afternoon tea delights I’ve ever seen, we discovered much about each other, including the fact we’re both operating the same flight to Philadelphia tomorrow!

 

December 14th, 1990

December 14th, 1990

At home, England

Awoke to a bright, sunny morning, feeling a little more hopeful than I have been. I think talking to Pamsy and seeing mum and dad happy lifted my spirits somewhat and reminded me that regardless of whether you’re ready or not, life changes. You can choose to “Go with the flow,” as Florence is fond of saying or get stuck somewhere in the midst of it all.

I want to be the type of person that’s open to new experiences, so, with that thought in mind, I picked up the phone and dialed Richard’s number, all the while hoping the answering machine would pick up.

“Rothschild residence.”

“Richard?”

“Karen! What a wonderful surprise. How are you?”

Impressed you know it’s me!

“Fine thanks. I just thought I’d ring to wish you a Happy Christmas.”

“And the same to you. Will you be home?”

“No, I leave Boxing Day for a Bangkok, Aussie adventure.”

“Nice, although I suspect you’d rather be spending it with your chap in LA.”

“Actually, that’s all over.”

“Well, well, well,” he uttered. “I shan’t lie and pretend I’m sorry but I do hope you’re not terribly upset?”

“I’ve had a few, let’s say, moments.”

“Perfectly understandable,” he said. “I have to say, I’m absolutely thrilled and most surprised to hear from you.” His tone sounded so sincere it made me smile as he continued. “So, now that the bright lights of Hollywood are no longer shining, would you perhaps like to go on a date with me?”

“You have a way with words,” I laughed.

“I’d love to hear you say yes to a date,” he continued. “This being the season of goodwill and all that rot.”

“Yes!”

“Excellent! Would you like to choose where, or shall I?”

“You pick.”

“Is London too obvious?” he asked.

“Not at all, I love London.”

“Will you be driving?”
“No, I’ll take the train to Euston. I can be there just before noon.”

“I’ll be driving but I can meet you on the platform?”

“That’d be great,” I said. “See you tomorrow.”

“Marvelous.”

I hope so.

 

 

 

 

December 13th, 1990

December 13th, 1990

At home, England

Mum and dad are going to Spain for Christmas and New Year, a decision they made tonight after I reassured them I’ll be fine without them.

Talking about New Year’s Eve reminds me of last year, when I went to the party in Notting Hill with Sebastian. I really must make an effort to catch up with him but it’s so difficult to keep in touch when I’m away so much of the time. Having said that, with David no longer in the picture, I’ll have more time on my hands, the thought of which alone makes me sad.

 

December 12th, 1990

December 12th, 1990
At home, England

The best thing about today was an extremely long, overdue chat with Pamsy.
“Why didn’t you ring and tell me about David?”
“I’ve been too sad. I just find it easier not to talk about it.”
“You always do that.”
“Do what?” I asked.
“Retreat.”
“I know. It’s probably not the best way to deal with stuff but I’m so sick of being let down. I just want to be happy!”
“You will, I know you will,” she said her soothing tone prompting water works.
“Aw, don’t cry,” she said. “Everything is going to be fine. You just need time.”
“It really hurts,” I sniffed. “I thought he was the one and I feel so foolish saying that but I truly thought he was.”
“I could throttle him,” she said, in a way that made me laugh. “Do you think it’d be different if he’d met another girl?”
“I’ve asked myself that a million times and I still don’t know the answer. Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s over. Over, over, over.”
“I hate that word.”
“Me too, unless it means no more dieting!”
She laughed. “You had better not be on a diet!”
“Quite the opposite actually.”
“Good girl,” she said. “This is not the time for deprivation. Anyway, what else has been happening?”

I filled her in on Christopher’s upcoming proposal and my quick jaunt to Paris.
“Another one off the market,” she sighed. “I always liked the sound of Christopher. I secretly hoped you’d come to your senses and end up with him.”
“You should know by now that sense and moi do not go together!”
She laughed. “We’ll get back to that in a minute but how was Johnny Jacks girlfriend?”
“Ugly!”
Pamsy cracked up laughing. “Nooooo.”
“Seriously, she was like the ugliest woman ever, verging on hideous actually.”
“Stop it!”
“I do have to say though,” I uttered in my best cockney accent, “She did possess a lovely personality!” Pamsy kept laughing while I continued. “I mean don’t get me wrong, he’s no Sting but he’s charming and he has oodles of sex appeal, but this woman-”
“What was her name?”
“Veronique.”
“Pretty.”
“Yeah for a, a, oh, I can’t even think of what to say!”
Pamsy cracked up again.
“But you know what’s amazing? He’s totally gaga about her. I mean utterly, head over heels, which is a funny expression because she towers over him.”
“Well he’s only, what, five two?”
I laughed. “Not quite that short but she’s five ten, at least. They make a very odd couple, yet somehow it works and they’re kind of perfect together. It was quite something to witness.”
“Were you a bit put out?”
“It’s so funny you should ask that because initially I did feel that way which made no sense, I mean it’s not like he was the love of my life but it just seems everyone around me is starting to settle down in one way or another and I’m still out here, very single.”
“As am I,” Pamsy sighed. “Love is confusing.”
“Or in Jean Jacques case,” I giggled. “Blind. Love is blind.”

 

 

December 11th, 1990

December 11th, 1990
Night flight from PIT – IAD – LHR

Going against my better judgement, I rang David’s office number late last night. I desperately wanted to hear his voice, but instead of voicemail, battle axe picked up!

I knew she’d recognize my accent, so I waited for her to bark a few demands of, “Who is this?” before hanging up, immediately regretting my stupidity.

I won’t be doing that again.

December 9th, 1990

December 9th, 1990
Flight from CDG – LHR as a passenger
At home, England

As wonderful as it was to be in Paris again, I vowed not to return until the next time I’m in love, which, at the rate I’m going, might be a while!

December 8th, 1990

December 8th, 1990
Jean Jacques apartment, Montmartre, Paris

I can’t begin to say how happy I am to be back in this beautiful city, presently blanketed in twinkling lights, with an atmosphere that feels hopeful and looks inviting with people everywhere, all bundled up, yet still managing to look chic (a look I swear you have to be French to pull off.)

Jean Jacques offered to meet me at Charles de Gaulle but it’s an easy bus ride into the city so I came straight to the flat.
“Ecossais! Entrer, entrer,” he gushed, smiling widely.
“Thanks Jean Jacques,” I said, turning my cheek for the first of the classic Parisian double cheek kiss. “Smells so good in here, what’re you cooking?”
“A little something for the broken art,” he shrugged.
“Ugh,” I groaned. “Is it that obvious?”

He wasted no time popping open a bottle of Champagne while I got comfy on the couch, truly, the squishiest, loveliest couch ever.
“To the friendship,” he said, clinking his glass to mine.
“Thank you,” I said, glancing around. “Your apartment looks beautiful, it’s so lovely to be here again.” I had a feeling he wasn’t entirely responsible for the extravagant Christmas tree and decorations.
“First, we talk and enjoy the bubbles, then we go,” he motioned to outside.
“Sounds good. How have you been?”
“Tres, tres, biz e,” he grinned.
“With?” I asked.
“The work and the lady.”
“Lady? Or ladies?”
He raised his finger.
“Ooohh. A special lady. Are you in love?” I asked.
“Je suis follement amoureux,” he uttered, misty eyed.
I hate to admit it but I felt a bit taken aback, not jealous, just a little put out, which made no sense as it’s not as if I was ever in love with him.
“Deeply in love, huh? Do I get to meet her?”
“Oui, ce soir,” he beamed. “But first you tell me of le garcon who makes you so sad.”
For some ridiculous reason, Ben came to mind but when I looked at Jean Jacques, the little pouty face he was making, made me laugh.
“No,” I stated. “I don’t want to talk about it. Tell me your good news, I want to hear all about your new love.”
“Ah,” he sighed, hand on heart. “Where to begin?”

 

 

December 7th, 1990

December 7th, 1990
At home, England

One of my favourite things about Christmas is the cards. I take my time choosing them, then I pore over what to write before popping them in the post, but mostly, I love to receive them.

By the time the post came flying through the letter box, I was already on my second cup of tea and roughly three thousand calories into the morning. I quickly scanned the handwriting on each envelope, settling first on the bright red one from Jean Jacques.

Inside, was a card with an old-fashioned scene of Paris rooftops, covered in light snow, as well as a photo of me he took earlier this year.
“Ecossais,” he wrote. “It is Joyeux Noel, time for friends! Come to Paris!” I smiled as I read it in his accent and figured I’d leave a message on his machine to say thanks but he picked up.

Fifteen minutes later he’d convinced me I need, “a little time in the city of love,” which is where I’ll be tomorrow.