Five Years Later.
Life's pretty great. I can't believe the ease with which I think that but it's true. Life's pretty great. When you try, when you don't just sit back and let it all pass you by, it's amazing how quickly it all turns around. It always seems so impossible when you're stuck in a rut. You look at all the problems you want to fix - your job, how much money you make, the way you look, the way you feel - and think you're standing at the bottom of Everest with the solution on the top. But turns out you're just making mountains out of molehills. It's just your way of getting you not to bother because you're afraid. If it's too hard, you won't try. But it's not too hard. You can change your whole life. I did.
We're living in the UK now. Have been for about two years. We didn't come over with the intention of staying, far from it. Spike still had his job in New York and despite the fact that he'd taken a sabbatical from it, he had every intention of going back. But we wanted to travel. We wanted to see the world a little. Together. So, he took about four months unpaid and we took off. We tried to do the whole road trip in America thing along Route 66, because I'd watched Cars a few times before we left and was convinced it was my duty as a human being to drive through little Radiator Springs and spend some money on the poor little ignored town. Spike said I was insane and it didn't exist. Well anyway, we were starting from LA, having flown back to see my dad and introduce Spike to him, and I wanted to take him to my mom's grave. It turned out to be one of the most emotional moments of my life. Spike held me and I cried and then he was crying and it was beautiful and cathartic and I felt like I was putting it all behind me, finally.
So, we went on our road trip. It didn't go well. We'd got as far as Arizona before the arguing over the map got too much (Spike refused to use GPS) and we spent one night on opposite sides of the bed in huffs - in this dingy little motel that would seem cool in your twenties but just seems gross in your thirties - before we decided to screw it all, drive back to LA, dump the god-awful old car back with the rental agency and just get a plane over to Europe and go travelling in style. We had the money, after all. Both of us had been saving for the whole of our twenties and what else are savings for if not to blow them on a two month long vacation? Yeah, my dad didn't like that part.
So, we went to Paris, Nice, Geneva, Frankfurt, Venice, Naples and finally back to London, where we'd been planning to stay with Xander for a couple of weeks. The Xand-man (as he calls himself, though Spike refuses to) had made quite a life for himself over the pond. He had a lovely old Georgian townhouse in London that he'd remodelled himself and we got the whole third floor of his house to ourselves. He regretted it, of course, because it meant his bedroom was below ours and... well, the noises... he said it was worse than when he travelled in Africa. Jungle noises apparently. I still think he's exaggerating. But anyway. Spike wanted me to see where he'd grown up. I met his dad, we visited his mom's grave and a few of his old school friends - one of whom confirmed the whole 'poking the girl with a stick in Biology class' story for me but I still find the whole thing suspect. But we basically just completely fell in love with the city.
It took a while for us to really make the decision to make the move though. For one thing, Spike's job. For another thing, my job. I'd gone back to school to do art not long after quitting my job and I'd been working at a little school part-time for less-than-well-off teens who couldn't afford art school or get scholarships. I loved those kids but Spike said there would be just as many in London, if I really wanted to leave. There was a lot of paper-work and selling apartments and Spike and me scouring for jobs in London and green-card stuff to work out, but eventually after about a year we'd cut all ties and moved over. We got ourselves a cute little house just outside of London that wouldn't make commuting time too obscene. Both of us decided we didn't want to live in a city any more, though we'd still be close enough to a city to placate my Mod-Con brain. We're in a little village. Well, I call it a little village. Spike says villages only have one pub whereas our town has ten. But still, after New York, this place is a goddamn village, thank you very much. It's a cottage, one floor but pretty spacious. There's a gorgeous garden with one of those little fences halfway down it with an arch, and big trees that hover over our house. Every time there's a full moon, I make Spike have sex with me under them. Not that I have to make him. He's pretty much on me 24/7, or would be if we didn't have to work. Not that I'm complaining. I love my husband just as much now as I ever have.
Oh yeah, we got married. Back at the start of our road trip failure. We got married in a crappy little chapel by the side of the road. I was wearing my white summer dress that only made it to mid-thigh and Spike, of course, was in his ever-present-outside-the-office black jeans, though I did manage to get him to wear a light cotton shirt instead of the black t-shirt. The paint was peeling off the walls of the place and the music they used when I walked down the aisle (which was about two feet long) made us giggle so hard we could barely hear the 'minister'. But we didn't care. We really, really didn't. We just wanted to be married. It was perfect. It was just me and him and our future laid out before us. Plus the hot sex in the woods behind the chapel afterwards still ranks as my favourite so far. And we've tried to beat it a lot.
So, life is pretty great. I'm sitting here in our back garden on the stone bench that, when we were christening it, left a graze on my butt so sore that I couldn't have sex for a week. Since then, Spike has always been careful to leave a throw out here and he always remembers to bring it inside when it's raining. He's fucking perfect. Spike's on his way back from work in the cute little Audi that he bought because I almost had an orgasm in the showroom when he got in it to try it out and he looked so fucking hot I almost pounced on him right then and there. It was the easiest commission the salesman ever made. I'm not working right now but we can more than survive on Spike's ker-ching paycheck. He's working for a law firm that have been established since 1754. 1754! That's older than America, for god's sake! And they like him. They like him a lot and show him every month with his paycheck. Of course, I like him more. And I show him every night in our bedroom. And our hall. And our living room and... well, anywhere the urge takes us. And it takes us a lot.
I've finished with school and have my little crappy art degree, but I'm not an artist. I'm not that good. What I am good at is art appreciation. Those who can't, appreciate. So, I'm trying to start up my own school for underprivileged teens who love art, right here in the village. It's hard, but it's on its way.
I've only seen Dru once since that day she walked out of my old apartment in New York. And it wasn't how I always imagined it would be. It was pure chance that we even ran into each other. Turns out all that bother I was imagining when Spike and Dru spilt never happened. When he finally went back to their apartment, she had moved all her stuff out, with no note or anything, and left him everything that was rightfully his. No fuss, no muss. Neither of us had heard from or seen her for about a year and a half the day I ran into her in the park.
I was standing at one of those hot dog vendors, just outside the entrance to the park, munching away on what Spike calls a hot-rat cause he thinks it'll put me off them. It doesn't. Well anyway, I wandered over to a little bench to finish my delicious rat in a bun, when I felt something tickling at the side of my senses, something telling me to look up. I did. And standing about 20 feet away was Dru. And she was looking right at me. She was with some guy I'd never seen before. He was carrying her bags and it looked like he was trying to hail a cab for them. She was as impeccably dressed as ever. Her hair was shining in the sun. She looked lovely. I felt an overwhelming urge to cry when my eyes met hers. Then she smiled at me. Not a full, my-grin-is-cracking-my-face smile. A small one, like she was telling me a secret; like it was just ours. I smiled back, as my eyes pooled with tears I wasn't sure were happy or sad. God, I missed her so much in that moment. She kept looking at me as her man finally hailed a cab. He opened the door for her and she paused, her gaze holding mine. I nodded at her, still smiling through my tears. And with one final grin at me, she turned and got into the cab.
I sat on the bench for half an hour, in a daze.
When I finally got home, I started crying. When Spike got home from work, he was so worried about me I thought his face would turn blue. But I was okay, I kept telling him. I felt like I was... healed or something. I felt whole. And then I was laughing with him.
I've never told anyone about seeing her. That moment's just mine and Dru's. I haven't seen or heard from her since. But I hope she's okay. I hope she's got her happiness now.
I hear his car pull into our little gravel driveway and my heart starts skipping like it always does when I'm about to see him. I stay on our bench, looking at the sky over our garden and think of our life together, what we've carved out for ourselves - our little corner of the world.
I never knew I could be this happy. This content. I never thought I could have all this. I never believed in myself enough to chase after it. But I do now. And he does too. This is our life together and it's perfect.
I feel his arms wrap around me from behind and he leans in to press his face into the side of my neck, smelling my skin.
"Hey baby, I'm home," he whispers. I smile and twist in his arms to lock my lips with his.
Life's pretty great.