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I Didn’t Feel That Way About Him at First

In the early 1980s I was fairly newly married and very happy with my life. One day I got a phone call from a girlfriend who worked in a hair salon, as did I. Her car had broken down and she was wondering if I wouldn’t mind picking her up from work. I walked into my friends salon – really busy, loud music – and my friend introduced me to her boss, “Craig, this is my friend, Fiona”. He looked me up and down, pointed a finger at me and said to my friend, “see, THAT’S how a hairdresser is SUPPOSED to look!”,  and then disappeared. “How rude,” I remember thinking. We left and that was that.

9 or 10 years passed by. I had a great life but realised after about 5 years or so that I loved my husband as a person but wasn’t ‘in love’ at all. This made me feel guilty and restless, and like a shitty person as he was really nice. One day he came in after work and said, “I stopped at the beach on my home and saw an old couple walking along the pier holding hands, and I thought to myself ‘that will be Fiona and I one day’”. This made me feel despair and great sadness, which I found difficult to understand at the time.

“We had opposing desires for how we wanted the future to proceed. I didn’t want to be an ‘observer’ like he did – I wanted an active and unpredictable role in the story of my life.”

He wanted to spend the rest of his life going slowly round the “life carousel” in one of those fixed and secure loveseats with the least amount of friction in life, an observer, just like the old couple he’d seen on the beach, a smooth transition into old age with the least amount of drama. 

I wanted my “life carousel” to be the Big Dipper, I wanted the crazy ups and downs, the pounding heart, the roundabouts. We had opposing desires for how we wanted the future to proceed. I didn’t want to be an ‘observer’ like he did – I wanted an active and unpredictable role in the story of my life.

At the time the relationship was winding up – very easily and amicably for both of us as it turned out, I decided on a change of career after 13 years hairdressing. I accepted a job in the corporate world, starting as a Sales Rep selling hair care. My carousel horse was galloping during this time, it had flown off the merry-go-round into the unknown. It was exhilarating! I moved into a cool city flat with a girlfriend and was about to turn 30. I was dating, going out a lot, learning a lot…generally having a lot of 30-something fun! I felt strong, energised, invincible, happy and able to achieve whatever I wanted.

I felt strong, energised, invincible, happy and able to achieve whatever I wanted.

One working day I walked into a new salon and the guy who owned the salon looked at me and said, “I remember you, you came into my old salon about 10 years ago and you were wearing …” and he described my outfit in exact detail! I remembered the day I picked up my friend and his rudeness, but was very surprised he remembered me.

He became a regular client, and one night we met at a nightclub for a big hair-show/fashion parade event I was involved in. He dropped me off home later, we talked a lot in the car and I revised my opinion of him, thinking he was actually a really nice person. The following week, my girlfriend who had worked for him and first introduced us all those years ago, was having her 30th birthday in a big city nightclub and had invited him too. He dropped me home again that night and we’ve been together ever since! In fact the morning after this night, I woke up, looked at him and yelled out “OMG, Craig, what are YOU doing in my bed?!”

Our friends told us from day 1 that we were made for each other. This really surprised me as I didn’t feel that way about him at first, but then it just felt EXACTLY right.

Our friends told us from Day 1 that we were made for each other. This really surprised me as I didn’t feel that way about him at first, but then it just felt EXACTLY right. Even though we had met almost 10 years before and had never spoken, we soon realised through mutual friends and conversations that we’d been on the outer periphery of each other’s lives all throughout those years. We even worked out that we’d both been to the same party once – with our respective partners at the time – but didn’t see each other. We’d been to the same concerts, countries and festivals…but our paths never crossed.

We’ve now been together over 25 years. We’ve had many, many ups and downs. We were both on runaway horses at times…gripping on for dear life. We’ve had a wonderful life, surrounded by friends and fun. We had a daughter when I was 40. He re-established his relationships with his 3 kids (now all grown ups) from his earlier marriage. We bought a new home, we travelled the world with our daughter. Life was amazing and fulfilling. And then things can completely fall apart! Things can sometimes unfold like a really bad soap opera. 

In the midst of our ‘perfect life’, in the space of 7-8 months, our beautiful daughter at age 16 was diagnosed with cancer and complex PTSD. My lovely father in law passed away suddenly. My Mum started going in and out of hospital, and she died in Jan this year. My middle sister, at about the same time as my daughter, was diagnosed with bowel cancer. My youngest sister’s husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his throat – another series of hospital visits. My dear friend, someone who filled a huge gap in my life over the last 25 years, died not long after my Mum. Another very close personal friend was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumour.

…and some other things. 

On the day my daughter was diagnosed with her cancer, I think I took a breath and held it in for a very long time. My throat felt physically restricted. 

Last week we moved into our new home in Noosa; the 3 of us are pinching ourselves, we are so thrilled and excited. I still held in that breath, but I sold the home we made, that our daughter was born in, that we thought we’d live forever in. I left the huge community of people I had built up over the many years.

If someone told me just over 12 months ago that all this was going to happen, I would NEVER have believed it.

“I’m nearly 60, but I feel like a new life is possible and is just beginning.”

My love of my life, he who was so rude to me when we were first introduced, has helped me let out that breath I held in last year. Together we’ve started a completely new chapter in all our lives. We are in the most amazing place, surrounded by nature, frogs, birds, forest…I really miss my friends in Melb, but I’m looking forward to meeting the new ones that I haven’t met yet!  I’m nearly 60, far out, but I feel like a new life is possible and is just beginning.

I’d tell my younger self: 

Sometimes shit happens all at once and there comes a time where all you have is the control of your own breath and not much else.

Life is full of possibilities, both good and bad, that you can’t even begin to imagine. The carousel horse you ride through life will take off in the most unexpected directions, but even so…it’s still better than sitting in the safe love-seat.

Fiona, 58 | Noosa, QLD, Aus

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