Friday, March 05, 2004

The Ocean Basket, Sandton City

Friday, March 05, 2004

Service: * * *1/2
Food: * * *1/2
Ambience: * *
Babe Count: * * * * *

Tonight the babe count is at maximum. That's cos the babe sitting across the table from me is Jacqui, love-of-my-life, looking gorgeous. And what's more, she's smiling tenderly at me.

Now I know I'm reading WAY too much into this, but that's what I wanna do for the moment. I WANT my hopes up there. I WANT to feel that maybe she and I will be able to sort things out and love each other for ever.

We're on a date, one we arranged to go on back at couples therapy on Tuesday.

I admit to having felt terrified of tonight. I feared the worst.

This morning, driving to work, tears welling, I phone my shrink. Ask her if I should cancel this evening. Chicken out. "Roy," says Zahava, her kid screaming in the background, "I think you should go with it. Feel the fear, but have supper and see a movie with her. Whatever you feel tonight will be a good teacher for your future."

As I'm listening, a beep sounds in my earpiece. It's a message. "Uh, hang on, Zahava," I say. "There's a message. It could be from Jacqui."

I look at the phone while driving in the rain. And yes... it IS from Jacqui! And she's very keen to meet tonight, and she's looking forward to seeing me. And she's suggesting a nice light movie... RUNAWAY JURY. And suddenly I'm feeling unbelievably relieved. But still petrified.

I tell Zahava, and read the message to her. "Go tonight," she says. "And phone me if you need me. Are you okay? Getting through work?"

We end the conversation when Saul shouts at his mom. He screams, "It's not fair!!!"

"Zahava," I say, "I have to agree with Saul. It's not fair."

So here I am with Jacqui, eating the fish and chips special at The Ocean Basket. We're upstairs, and it's surprisingly noisy. But the fish tastes fresh. I've forgotten once again about the standard option they offer... if you just ask them, they'll do a Cajun burn on the dish you order. So I just have to settle for the normal grilled hake. Which is very nice. And I'm astounded to find that I'm able to eat. Cos my tummy's been queazy all day today, and I haven't been able to eat very well.

And Jacqui looks so lovely. I just want to reach over the table and kiss her. And them make love with her. And all that sorta stuff. Which I don't mention, seeing as we're kinda in break-up mode.

But she's very clear about some stuff. Namely she loves me. Adores me. Thinks I'm one of the most special men around. And thanks me for giving her space. Specifically thanks me for not sending her any messages yesterday.

Phshew. I set myself the goal of refraining from sending her any SMSs yesterday. Not cos I didn't want to contact her. But simply to prove to myself and to her that I could honour her need for space.

It was a very very very very difficult day to get through.

And she tells me, "Roy, I've been forcing myself not to get into my car and drive over to your flat. I've been forcing myself not to send you any messages too. But I've really needed the space. Thank you."

I raise the serviette to my eyes. Swallow hard about five times. I don't want to break down here. I don't want to start crying. If I do, I can tell that it'll be the whooping howling version, the type that comes from deep despair and violent relief. This woman loves me! And she might even want me.

We watch the movie. I nice, workmanlike legal thriller that doesn't challenge too much, and only preaches a bit about gun control. And it's fun, and just what a strained couple might need.

We go walking around Sandton City after, and sit down on one of the benches outside Loads of Living.

It's time for a bit of heart to heart. "Roy," she says, "I feel so guilty."

"Because you feel you're stringing me along, and you don't want to hurt me, but you know I'm hurting. Because you're in a hectically ambivalent space."

She's agreeing.

And I say, "But you're not hurting me, Jacqui. I'm hurting, sure. But it's not YOU causing the hurt. It's the situation. What you're doing, what YOU'RE doing, is giving yourself the space to find out what you want. And you HAVE to do that. If you don't do that, you won't know what you want. And I'll go through any hurt to know at the end that it's me you want."

Or words to that effect. I don't recall exactly. It's a tad emotional here in Sandton City tonight on this bench.

"Roy," says Jacqui. And this time, I recall exactly what she says, cos it's burned into my brain stem. "Roy, if it's okay to ask this without getting your hopes up, I'd like to ask you to wait for me through this. And I'm committed to doing whatever work we need to go through."

We hug. I say, "I'll wait."

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