I have missed connections. Literally. There is a guy out there called Jonathan who I let down because I missed my connection. He did not forgive me. It’s hard to apologise to someone when they block you because they are so angry, presumably believing they were deliberately stood up. If you are out there Jonathan – I would never deliberately stand someone up. I missed my connection.
But the idea of “missed connections” strikes another chord with me. Have you ever watched the dramatisation of “North And South”? It is a BBC adaptation, and to me it is the best thing since the 1995 Colin Firth “Pride And Prejudice”. If you have never seen it (or read the book) and want to watch it then please stop reading this post because it contains major spoilers.
The story centres around Mr Thornton, a complex masculine heartthrob who is all brusk and moody on the outside but has been inwardly melted by snobby Southern belle Miss Hale, who can express her judgemental opinions with brutal eloquence. Miss Hale finds the harsh Northern industrial town she moves to is very different to the pretty Southern rural parsonage she grew up in. Lots of misunderstandings and miscommunications. Miss Hale I feel is the one who initially misjudged Mr Thornton. However, later he catches her in the arms of another man, causing great resentment and causing him to misjudge her. Lots of missed opportunities, missed connections I guess.
As the story develops, Miss Hale is finally able to leave the North and return to Southern England. The video below shows her departure. It’s the words Mr Thornton utters under his breath that I find moving. As he watches Miss Hale climb into a carriage and depart he is desperate for some signal from her to keep his diminishing flicker of hope alive. He murmurs: “Look back. Look back at me.” Do you think she does?
But that is not the end of the story. Things happen. The two characters are left trying to make sense of their own thoughts and feelings. Their circumstances change. While Mr Thornton’s business goes bust and he has to close his cotton mill and lay off all of his employees, Miss Hale inherits a fortune and becomes a woman of wealth. Mr Thornton finally learns that the man Miss Hale was embracing was actually her own brother, who had to flee for his safety.
Miss Hale visits the North of England, intending to offer Mr Thornton a business proposal. Mr Thornton is not there. They have missed each other. He is wandering around her original home and visits the pretty parsonage she grew up and finds her beloved yellow roses which she believed to have been destroyed by the new owners. Then a miracle occurs…
As Miss Hale is returning to the South of England, her train stops at a station for a few minutes to allow a northbound train to pass. At the same moment, Mr Thornton is on that northbound train. As his train rolls in Miss Hale catches sight of him. This time it is not a missed connection. This time it is not a misunderstanding or a miscommunication. No…finally the two connect. They fully understand each other and communicate everything they had been suppressing.
If you have never seen “North And South”, it is so worth a watch. The ending scenes, from the journeys North and South the two characters make and their amazing meeting at a railway station on their return home are enchanting. I love the ending. I love the music this scene is set to, composed by Martin Phipps. It is utterly gorgeous and churns my soul.
I don’t know if I am doing this beautiful scene justice, but I felt a real intense burst of joy and relief when they finally connected.
I have missed connections. I have missed train connections (and accidentally stood poor Jonathan up), but more often I missed connecting with someone due to misunderstandings and miscommunications. It happened with Ben. We made a mess of things at the start of our acquaintance. I was more snooty towards him than Miss Hale is to Mr Thornton. I severely misjudged him. Ben could not comprehend why I seemed to dislike him at first. It took time for us to get onto the same wavelength. Just as we seemed to be warming to each other, then we were separated, when I met “Simon”. Ben had to endure that.
I know now that me meeting Simon left him in a bad place. I still remember Ben’s face the first time I saw him at a party not long after I had met Simon and started telling my friends I had met this incredible man who was an Olympian sex-pert. I was glowing with that effervescence a great sex life tends to impart. Ben was not getting any at that point (Ben had plenty of sex when he was in his twenties. But after a few romantic relationships he said he learnt a lot about the kind of person he was and the kind of person he wanted to be with. He did not want to casually hook up with women he did not feel a mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual attraction to – that is Ben’s way of putting it). After the argument we had at work, he had been putting a lot of effort into befriending me, all before I had gone on vacation and randomly met Simon and started having terrific sex every weekend. Ben was cut up about it (he reads these posts before they are published so if he does not agree then he can always remove this sentence).
Yet Ben did something which I think may have been hard for him at times. He stayed close. He knew I was besotted with Simon, but Ben would invite me out for coffee and to visit exhibitions. He would ask me for help with shopping for gifts or clothes. He arranged social events and hiking trips with our other friends. We were spending time together, getting to know each other, growing in understanding and esteem for each other. It makes me cringe when I remember myself sometimes bubbling over in my enthusiasm about Simon (as you do when your lover is so great in the bedroom) and yet Ben endured that. He was always respectful and never undermined my already being in a relationship with someone else. He never tried to make a move on me when I was with Simon. That told me a lot about how much Ben values being in a relationship and making a commitment to someone.
After my eighteen months of great sex with Simon (plus a few emotional ups and downs because I had never been with a man who wanted to remain polygamous), he departed. We were now separated geographically. Simon had never committed himself to “exclusivity”, yet, although he did not expect it of me, I had committed myself to being faithful to him, by my own choice. That is who I am. When he left, Simon told me I must try dating other men and he was sure I would meet someone who would love me and want the same things I wanted.
Some time after he moved, I ended up having a secretive short and sweet affair with a long-time friend who wanted to suckle from my breasts. I used him as inspiration for “Greg” in our novellas “LOST” and “FOUND”. We had a very enjoyable time together and it was right for that moment in my life. It helped me mentally detach from Simon. But, although pleasant, I knew it was not a permanent connection. It was a probably a mistake to have an intimate relationship with someone I was not in love with, but because we had a long-time friendship and trust it felt safe and it felt as if we were being caring and generous towards each other. I found a lot of consolation in the way he treated me. He had been sweet on my for many years (he has known me for twenty years) and he was lonely. I was grieving the loss of Simon. Our getting together was natural and out of a desire for gentle comfort rather than passionate desire. Having him suckle from my breasts was lovely. We ended the physical connection but have remained friends. We hid our tryst from our other friends as we did not want anyone to think there had been any kind of falling out with each other, although later we agreed that if anyone figured it out we would not deny it. (A couple of our friends, including Ben of course, know that he and I had had a little something.) I do think I needed that short sweet affair to get over Simon, before I could connect with Ben.
I then started to make it clear to friends I considered myself single again. That was despite remaining friends with “Simon” and “Greg”. Ben pounced. He was not going to let anyone else get in there first. I knew there was something very different about him. This guy who had gradually become one of my best friends was now gazing at me with gooey looks. He was frequently invading my personal space. It did not take long for the right time to come along. It started with him taking hold of my hand. Ben got straight to the point, telling me how he felt about me. I think I have already mentioned that although I thought that was Ben’s way of asking me out on an official date, he was actually telling me that we had already been dating for years and now he did not want to waste a minute longer. He was ready for more, a lot more, and was eager to know if I felt that same attraction. Something happened inside me. It was like a damn bursting open and tonnes of suppressed emotion pouring into my heart, but I knew Ben was going to be right for me. I knew.
He was correct, all that time we had spent together as friends, we had already become close, we knew each other so well. He was already one of the first people I thought about everyday. He was already the one who made my heart leap when I saw he was calling my cell phone. He was already the man I esteemed most, but I did not feel deserving of his romantic love, after the appalling start to our relationship and him knowing I had been having sex with a guy who did not want to make a commitment to one woman. I assumed Ben thought I was an idiot. I knew Ben was a better man than that. (I still care for Simon so much, but Ben is the better man.)
When Ben and I finally connected, when we finally understood each other and communicated how we felt, I felt that same intense burst of joy and relief. That feeling of joy came before our first kiss. How exciting it was to start kissing Ben. How we laughed and smiled and kissed again…and again. He clung to my hand all day. There was a lot of kissing. We walked a lot that day. There was a lot of stopping near a bridge or somewhere where less people were around and Ben would hold me. We had not done that before. There had been plenty of friend hugs. But embracing as a couple was different. Bodies pressed together, arms tightly securing me to him, sensing that he was breathing in the scent of my hair and my skin, Ben resting his forehead against mine, more smiles, whispering into my ear that he had wanted this for a long time, feeling my heartbeat race, wondering if it was a dream, panicking if he let go of me.
We slept together that very night after he told me his feelings. Going from friends to lovers within twelve hours is a big transition. It was thrilling to remove each other’s clothes. I loved running my hands over his body. I just remember wanting to give to Ben. There he was telling me that he had wanted me for years, and although finding it hard to understand, I wanted to believe every word. It made me deeply happy. I wanted to give. I wanted him to have me. Every intimate act that night was truly an act of love. We were in love. I have no doubt about it. I think it was right that we had sex as soon as we declared our feelings, because if we had waited any longer it would have been too intense. Ben had been forced to control his longings for years.
I now wonder about that argument we had at work. There was undeniable sexual tension between us, the efforts we made to make peace and resolve the awkward atmosphere at work sealed our fate. Ben was already in my heart and exciting me. It was bad timing for me to go on vacation and meet a guy who would be happy to have sex with most skirt wearing creatures. Perhaps having sex with Simon was my way of releasing that emotion and sexual desire that Ben had stirred within me. Maybe it’s fair to say I was having sex with the wrong man (no disrespect to Simon). All my feelings and lust for Ben I immediately transferred to a complete stranger, Simon, who indicated to me immediately that my declaration of love for him was odd. He saw it as strange that I was so eager to devote myself to him. I think all along I wanted it to be Ben I was with. I had simply thought I had missed my connection and ended up on the wrong train. I did not think Ben would want me after I had been such a bitch to him. In beginning a relationship with Simon, I had no idea I was devastating Ben.
Finally Ben and I had connected. Finally that moment came when we shared the most intimate of acts. Ben’s penis was way ahead of us. Despite trying to make the most of our first frolic with foreplay, he could not wait any longer. I did not want him to have to wait. He was talking too much (a running comedy commentary on our every move) but at last the magical moment came. At last…at last, I felt the head of his penis kissing my labia and finding my vagina. Ben firmly pressed into me, once, twice, three times….soon he was in. Ben was in! Inside of me! In every way, heart, mind and now we were having sex! It was perfect. It was just right. Having sex with a best friend was surreal, but it was so right. Although sex is pretty awesome even stuck on a bus on a rainy afternoon, I do not remember ever feeling such joy and conviction that this was something good. It felt like the universe was cheering for us. It got better and better. The more we felt we were a couple, the more we found ways to please each other. Sex naturally becomes an important part of your relationship as a couple. We were becoming the inseparable Ben and Jen, who should have always been together, right from the start, we just took the scenic route to get there.
It did not matter which direction my life was headed in at that point. I was going to get onto the same train as Ben and carry on my journey through life with him. I know how happy it made me, but it is even more special to me that I made Ben happy, really happy. That is something I hold very precious.
I am sorry that it took so long for us to get together. I wish I had not made it so hard for him. But we did not waste any more time. It was not long after we started having sex that I moved in with Ben. I cannot imagine being without Ben. We had finally connected, and I was not going to risk missing this opportunity. No more missed connections.