A Life with a Soundtrack
Our Own Mess
So Mike said: si tu me dices ven, and I answered ven. Bliss did not ensue. We had no idea of the turbulence that was about to encounter. Our first and biggest problem was one of clashing personalities. He’d been living by himself for many years, most of his relationships had been brief (with two exceptions) and he was used to being in charge. Mike wasn’t just in charge of himself, when his father became ill, he moved to Spain to give his mother a hand. When his sister had financial issues, he stepped in to help. His brother and his young family spent their holidays at Mike’s place in the mountains, he was his own little sovereign nation. He was what Bush II would call: The Decider. The problem was, so was I. I’d gotten into a terrible habit of only pursuing relationships where I had some form of upper-hand. I can’t explain this without sounding like a total jerk, but in my defence, I only realized what I was doing with my 20/20 hindsight. My many successive relationships were exclusively with people who I believed I could control, whether it be because I had more money, I looked better, I was better connected or… whatever. I now understand it was a result of insecurity, a way of fooling myself into believing that if I had the control, it would ensure whomever I was with would never leave me. As there was an age gap between Mike and myself, I presumed young & pretty me would be the boss-man. T’was not so. We were gearing up for Villa l’Africaine’s very own Napoleonic wars. We fought from Monday to Friday. I blasted Thalia’s version of A quien le importa from one side of the house, and from the other side he blasted I am what I am (It was probably a Shirley Bassey version because he’s Welsh). Thursday nights we had a mediator, my late and great mother-in-law, one of the great allies I’ve had in life. Saturday was going out night and we kissed and made up, then I’d spend the evening flirting with everyone/anyone to annoy Mike and try to score points on our invisible score-card. Neither one of us admitted the power struggle was of an emotional nature, and that we were both deathly afraid of giving anyone our hearts to hold in their hands. We took childish to new heights and that’s when we began The Design Wars.
I wanted this
And he wanted this
So he bought these chairs behind my back
and I bought the Directoire secretaire in response
This went on and on and on. It went as far as one of us putting up a painting and the other taking it down, various times throughout the day. We were so involved in our fabricated war we hadn’t realized clouds had been gathering above us. We were in our own little world, dedicating all our time to arguing and the house. As our work load diminished we had time to rejoin the outside world and start getting to know the residents of our new community and get back in touch with the people who had been part of our previous non-coupled lives. This was when all hell broke loose.
Other People’s Mess
Some people have said that Villa l’Africaine looks like a fort because of the entrance tower. It’s 30 feet tall and has little windows which would be perfect for snipers. It was a comforting thought because we realized we were under attack. Both of us, up until that point, had been sought after guests. I was the life of the party, the snarky, risqué guest that no hostess could do without. The one that guarantees there’s no lull in the conversation at her table. Mike was the charming, former actor with the amazing voice and stories of his encounters with all sorts of interesting people. He worked with Ava Gardner three times, he knows Omar Sharif and acted opposite Maximilian Schell in Russia. He and Nureyev once rehearsed in adjoining spaces and Nureyev once goosed him as he was climbing up stairs. Then suddenly it hit us. Our first clue was from a Mrs. S. and came in form of an invitation that went something like this: When you two are on your own, that’s different, but together it’s kind of obvious you’re gay; But since it’s a garden party and there’ll be a lot of people, you’re welcomed to come. Or, why don’t you two alternate, each one of you comes to an alternate event on your own! What? Mike was in shock, he’d been part of the (progressive) arts world since his days doing drama at Oxford, which meant homophobia was practically alien to him. Principled man he is, he declined that and any other future invitations from Mrs. S.
But that was just the beginning, soon we realized it wasn’t just the more conservative sectors of polite society who thought we shouldn’t be together. Many of our friends agreed. But what happens when two obstinate guys are told by the world at large that their relationship can’t possibly work? They stop blasting Thalia’s version of A quien le importa and Shirley Bassey’s version of I am what I am from opposite sides of the house. They pull all the loudspeakers together (so the whole neighbourhood can hear them) and choose a new track. The new track is called Vámonos (Let’s Go)… because the two guys know that it doesn’t matter that one of them is a younger, spoilt, toff and a cad, and it also doesn’t matter that the other is an older, more conservative, homebody. What matters is they want to be together. But it wasn’t all bad, there people who stuck by us as well. The acting/artsy set: Sarah Porter, John McAndrew, Allan Corduner & Jane Bertish and a branch of the society set: Karin, Igel, Angelika & Andrea. Those were the main players who took up arms in our defence, and we’re very thankful for it!
I’ll only translate the important parts, because I’m lazy, scroll down to the second paragraph, but listen to the song to, just because the gently defiant tone is so wonderful.
ESTOY A PUNTO DE LLORAR,
DE TANTO RECORDAR, LAS HORAS QUE VIVIMOS..
ESTOY FORZANDO AL CORAZÓN,
QUE CUMPLA CON VALOR, LO QUE NOS PROMETIMOS.
A VECES, QUISIERA IRTE A BUSCAR,
A PUNTO DE LLORAR, NO SÉ CÓMO ME AGUANTO.
ES TAN DIFÍCIL DE OLVIDAR,
CUANDO HAY UN CORAZÓN,
QUE QUISO TANTO Y TANTO.
QUE NO SOMOS IGUALES DICE LA GENTE, They say we’re not the same
QUE TU VIDA Y MI VIDA SE VAN A PERDER, That our lives will be lost
QUE TÚ ERES UN CANALLA Y QUE YO SOY DECENTE, That you’re a cad and I’m decent
QUE DOS SERES DISTINTOS, NO SE PUEDEN QUERER.That such different people can’t love each other
PERO YO A TI TE QUISE Y NO TE OLVIDO,But I love you and never forget you
Y MORIR EN TUS BRAZOS ES MI ILUSIÓN, And to die in your arms is my wish
YO NO ENTIENDO ESAS COSAS I don’t understand these things
DE LAS CLASES SOCIALES,these social rules
YO SÓLO SÉ QUE ME QUIERES,all I know is you love me
COMO TE QUIERO YO.as much as I love you
VÁMONOS Let’s go
DÓNDE NADIE NOS JUZGUE,Where no one will judge us
DÓNDE NADIE NOS DIGA QUÉ HACEMOS MAL.Tell us what we do is wrong
ALEJADOS DEL MUNDO,
DÓNDE NO HAYA JUSTICIA, NI LEYES, NI NADA,
NÁ MÁS NUESTRO AMOR.
To be continued: Part III, how we lost the first battles but won the war!