By Natascha Graham
“You make a million decisions that mean nothing, and then one day you order take-out and it changes your life.” – Annie Read, Sleepless in Seattle
I didn’t order take-out. But I did post online, and moments after that, my whole life changed.
A couple of months ago somebody in a Facebook group for highly sensitive people wrote a post asking for movie suggestions for HSP’s. I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve commented on group posts, but for some reason that morning, whilst I was sitting in my sitting room, drinking tea, I decided to reply, and I posted my list.
I immediately let it go.
I forgot that I had replied.
Went back to my tea, my sitting room, my work…
Then Lori Graham replied.
A name I had never seen before, belonging to a person I had never met.
We swapped obscure similarities as easily as we swapped films and books and asked each other simultaneously if we could be “Facebook friends.”
I clicked on her profile, I saw her profile picture, and my chest tightened and my heartfelt as though it were speeding up and slowing down all at once.
Then I saw where she lived. “North Carolina” typed neatly on the page, a simple fact that caught in between the unraveling beat of my heart and made me wonder why I felt so sad that this stranger lived 3,815 miles away from my English home.
We talked on and off all day, all evening, and the next…. and the next… we shared our lives in stories and moments, videos, pictures and voice clips. She was endlessly fascinating, brilliantly funny, and we connected in a way neither of us ever had, and I will never, ever forget the moment I found out she was in love with me, or the smile she smiled, or the overjoyed relief I felt when I told her, “I love you too”.
She arrived at the airport in England looking more beautiful than I had ever imagined. Watching her speak on a phone screen was nothing compared to the hug we shared across the barrier. It was nothing compared to the way her eyes sparkled, the way her hair smelled, the way she moved or the way she glanced sideways at me and smiled at me with a smile so full of love that I fell in love with her all over again.
We took the train to Brighton and walked the labyrinth of streets in between sunshine and graffiti. We held hands and we kissed, we drank cider in a pub and made plans to steal the coasters. We stood together and watched the sunset on the pier, wind (and hair) in our faces, and watched a drag queen sing ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ in The Queen’s Arms.
She fed me strawberries dipped in Nutella in bed, we stopped to dress as hippies in the street, and we laughed at how umbrellas on the beach look from the birds-eye view of the British Airways tower.
We stayed a night in London and had a meal in a Greek restaurant that was so awful, from a waitress that deliberately ignored us, so we left without paying and were chased down the street by the aforementioned self-important waitress, who blamed us for her incompetence. We got to see each other “get sassy” (as Lori, with her gorgeous accent, would say) and we hid in a bookshop down the street to recover.
We had a terrible meal somewhere else to make up for it and walked hand in hand to Tavistock square where we took selfies with Virginia Woolf and watched a little boy hand-feed squirrels.
Then to Paris, to sun-dappled streets and bohemian apartments where the comforters were too small but we slept curled into one another and whenever I woke I whispered, “I love you” against her skin.
We drank champagne and kissed and held each other at the top of the Eiffel Tower, we watched a woman walk by the Arc du Triumph who threw bread crumbs to streamers of pigeons.
We read snippets of Emily Dickinson and touched the spines of Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Dalloway in the Shakespeare book Shop, overlooking the skeleton of Notre Dame.
She took pictures, and I fell in love with the way she saw the world… and the way she pronounced “Pigalle.”
We bought a lock and wrote our names on it, and we hung it on the bridge over-looking the Eiffel Tower, where we sat, at night, and watched it glitter and sparkle whilst falling in love even more.
We had gorgeous food served by charming waiters in charming restaurants and found our way home in the middle of the May Day riots.
We saw the Moulin Rouge, drank wine, and slipped in and out of shops, and smoked peach flavoured hookah in a blue-lit bar where I watched her blow smoke rings and kissed her whilst she blew smoke into my mouth.
Then she visited my town where we planned our future, and she met my family, my cats, my chickens and my friends…where we suffered strings of accidental, but very funny, injuries, found vicars playing bohemian rhapsody on the organ in a church, and where we dodged the rain and drank pretty cappuccinos and tea in arty coffee shops where David Bowie was on the radio and nothing seemed more alive, or more beautiful, than her.
Now, a love-blurred flurry of weeks later, and she is in the sky, flying back across those 3,815 miles home from coming to see me for the first time, and I am missing her so much I can barely breathe.
Some people speak of soul-mates, some people seek “the one”, some people claim love at first sight…
But this…”This was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together.” And we knew it.
I knew it the first time I touched her. It was like coming home, only to no home I’d ever known. I just knew it. It was like magic, and I knew, that this someone I had never met before, someone I had never known, was the only someone for me.
Natascha Graham is a multi-award-winning lesbian writer of fiction, poetry, stage and screen who lives on the east coast of England with her wife and two young children. For more information, please visit, www.nataschagrahamwriter.com.