Just One Breath

An American girl in Scotland, figuring things out one step at a time

March 14, 2012
by heather

Away we go

As soon as Jamie and I decided that Boston was the location of our first visit in over 2 years I was using all of my travel agent skills to get a great hotel at a great rate. The Boston Park Plaza was offering me the best travel agent rate, it was a historic building and it was centrally located. It was a winner. Jamie and I set the dates for the trip and it was just after my birthday in October of 2010, the 18th- the 23rd. I had 4 months to wait. 4 months to look at this man everyday and wonder what it would be like to spend time with him. Would we be awkward or would this new found ability to talk to each other’s faces on Skype make a difference?

Over the next few months my head was spinning. My friends were telling me to relax and just enjoy the trip. Jamie and I had not built up any expectations for our visit verbally but I felt that every day closer to the Boston trip was a day that was closer to finally sorting out my feelings. My relationship of the past year and a half was over over and I was free to do what ever came my way. I didn’t have to question how I felt about Jamie with a boyfriend back home, this trip was the first trip in years that my head wasn’t wrapped up in a relationship that was going nowhere. I was really free to be myself with Jamie and I was really looking forward to that and at the same time I was nervous as hell? We had gotten used to the trips that were full of longing and memorable moments, both good and bad. How will this trip be different? I still had my Jimmy Eat World song playing 100 times a day… is there hope for something different? Is there hope for us?

The trip was rapidly approaching and I was starting to freak out with anticipation. I had made up my mind that I was going to do everything in my power to make this a great trip. I had booked a Boston Trolley Tour and had learned as much as I could about the city and things that we might want to do. This was definitely not New York. I was wondering if we would be ok without our familiar haunts in NYC. Somehow they were comfortable even in the times when we were personally struggling.

The day came and it was time for me to head out on my 2 day drive up north from Wilkes-Barre, PA to Pleasant Valley, NY to stop for the night with my mother and then onto Boston.  I thought the stop at my Mom’s place would be good to help calm me. I would be able to talk to her and hopefully have a nice relaxing evening. It had gotten harder to share things with my Mom since she lives away from home for most of the week and I wanted this time to focus and just be with her. We watched TV, got Starbucks, did a little shopping and talked into the wee hours of the morning. I could not sleep much at all. Then the next day it was time to go. I was now totally calm strangely. I knew I was going to where I wanted to be and with the man I wanted to spend this time with. This new adventure in Boston, a new place to make new and happy memories… I hoped.

The drive was really easy. Driving up north is always so beautiful and we were heading into the most beautiful time of year, the Fall. The leaves were starting to turn and the mountains looked like they were on fire with reds, oranges and yellows. It was beautiful and so peaceful. I was making great time and I was sure to be there before Jamie so that I could calm down and check out our room. Well that all changed when I got a text that Jamie’s flight was arriving early. Crap! I had to floor it so that I could get there on time. I didn’t know how long it would take for the shuttle to get from the airport to the hotel. I found myself driving around unfamiliar Boston streets and I was starting to get anxious then there it was, the Boston Park Plaza. I was here, I was calm.

I went to check in and they were going to charge the full amount of the stay onto a credit card as a hold. Jamie was taking care of the hotel cost and he wasn’t here yet. My father had given me permission to use an emergency credit card that I had used to hold the room with but they would not accept it, even though I booked it with that card. I had drastically cut my available credit so that I could not get myself into credit card debt so my emergency card was all that was available to use. I called my Dad so that he could get information to send a fax to the hotel confirming my ability to use the card. I sat in the hotel lobby again waiting for Jamie to get here to fix this mess. The fax finally came through after what felt like an eternity and I was so upset because things were not going to plan and then he was there. With a touch on my shoulder I knew he was there. I turned and hugged him and cried. My nerves had definitely seen better days.

After all of that mess and Jamie getting me calm we went to our room. I was actually disappointed. It was nice but smelled like mildew. Anyone who knows me knows I have a freakish sense of smell and I could not stand it. Despite that we tried to settle in. We picked beds and started to talk. It was definitely easier this time. He had an iPad and I had never used one before so he started to show me how to work it. I crashed out on my bed and he sat on the floor next to me and I started drawing and flicking through books and he was just staring at me, he really looked amazing! So different, so mature. This Jamie seemed more comfortable and confident. I couldn’t take it, I wasn’t going to deal with a week of missed opportunities and more regrets so… I kissed him. Our first kiss in years. We didn’t linger, it was just a nice few kisses and then back to the iPad. It was a start and with it came the butterflies.

We sat in the room for a while talking and relaxing after a long day of traveling and what do you know, we kissed again. Why had there been so many times that we had wasted these quiet moments to be close? I wanted to hold on and not let go but I felt like Jamie was uncomfortable. I was afraid he didn’t want to be with me, what if he was regretting his decision to come to Boston, what if I was still too chubby? There were so many questions running through my head. The kiss ended and the anxiety in my started to rise.

That evening we went out for a walk to check out our neighborhood. It  was a really beautiful place. Boston was so different to NYC and we both noticed it. Boston was so walkable and beautifully lit. It really felt old and not as crowded and dirty, even though I absolutely love everything about NYC it was just nice to not be there. We went to a nearby pub to have a couple of burgers for dinner. It was so good to be sitting across the table talking and laughing with Jamie. This trip did seem different but I could feel the little knot in my stomach when I thought about his kisses. They were nice but I wondered if I was reading too much into his body language. It made me so uncomfortable and sad. I started to dwell on things that I was creating in my own mind, I wasn’t asking Jamie anything. Why didn’t I ask him what he was thinking or how he was feeling? I don’t know.

We were sitting watching TV when we got back from the pub and I decided to go down to the hotel gym to try to de-stress. I told J not to wait up for me because I didn’t know how long I would be down there. He agreed because he was tired from his day of traveling and off I went. When I was in the gym I kept thinking that I was stupid to have kissed him but I needed to change the way things went for us. I didn’t want regrets so I ultimately was happy that I finally got the guts to do it no matter what the outcome. When I got back up to the room Jamie was sleeping. I took a shower and continued to think, how could I make the start of this trip better? As I lay in bed angry with the heat in the room I made up my mind that I would ask for a new room in the morning. I was determined to change the course of our trip. I wanted to have fun with Jamie and I didn’t want my insecurities to take over. A fresh room for a fresh start… in the morning.   x heather



March 5, 2012
by heather

The start of something different

After I made contact with Jamie in March of 2010 we had a few back and forth emails and before I knew it I was back in the old swing of things. I found myself looking for an email from Jamie first thing in the morning, when I got home from work and before I went to bed… and a few hundred times in between. About a week after I contacted him I got a message that made me nervous… He said he had moved on and that he was “apprehensive as hell” to talk to me again. He also said “Part of me is thrilled to bits, too, at reconnecting. Like it or not (and I’m not saying I don’t) my head has you hard-wired in there, and the sense of familiarity is freakily just ON again.” I knew exactly what he meant, I was right there with him. I was terrified to hurt him again but I was just as scared to be without him. He was hard-wired in my head too. He said he wanted to take things slow even though his mind had been racing and he had thought about me most days even before we had spoken again. I was nervous but it was a start as far as I was concerned. We were going to work on our friendship again.

About a week later I got news that I had gotten a new job. I was hoping for a change and this was it. I was thrilled I would be working for Travelocity as a travel agent. I was not giving up my work with the kids but I was going to cut my hours drastically. I was so excited to share the news  with Jamie, it was just like old times. We were instant messaging nearly everyday and the emails were steadily coming and going. So much for taking it slow. We were just going with the usual, what felt right for us. We were so good a talking about nothing and everything, I was totally comfortable and at ease when we were back into our old routine and then he threw a wrench in the works… he wanted to Skype. What the hell was Skype? This was new to me. I had heard of it but I was so freaked out by being on camera that I kind of put off finding out more. I told him I would think about it but he persisted even when I said no, he was not letting go if this one. He wanted face time.

Needless to say, a week later I was at Walmart with Holly looking at webcams that were good quality and had a microphone. I was so nervous about Skype but I wanted to make Jamie happy and honestly, I wanted to see this bearded face. He looked so much more mature, my sweet faced Jamie had turned into a man and I had missed it. I wanted to see him too, I didn’t want to miss anything else. I hooked up the camera, checked for the best angle, installed Skype, put on some makeup and brushed my hair and then told him we were good to go. I was brickin’ it! Then the call came… Oh my God! When I saw him all I could think about was that he was beautiful. I hadn’t realized how much I missed his smile. He looked so good and  it was so nice to hear his voice again. I was so embarrassed and I was hoping he couldn’t tell how much I was blushing.

The first calls were awkward and I had to prep with a cute outfit, great hair and a bit of makeup each time. I didn’t want to look like a slob and I was still so weird about the camera. It was not something that happened everyday in the beginning but it didn’t take long to begin to grab 15 minutes here and there for a chat on Skype. I was getting calmer and was actually looking forward to seeing Jamie and talking to him without the typing and waiting. Real conversations that happened to be free were amazing novelties.

Just when we were really getting comfortable talking to each other on Skype some bad news came, Jamie’s Dad suddenly was not well. Tests showed one of the arteries in his heart had narrowed for some reason, and he had a bit of angina as a result. The Dr caught it quickly and prevented a heart attack by putting a stint in to allow the blood to flow more easily. He was doing well and that was a massive relief… then 5 days later… my father had a heart attack. He was away with my mother on vacation and she rushed him to the hospital and he was in full blown heart attack mode having been suffering, we found out later, from a silent heart attack for several days. I was a mess. My father is my world, I am a major Daddy’s girl and not ashamed to admit it. I was stuck in training for my new job. My brother and sister went down to where my parents were but my parents wanted me to stay at work and not miss out. My mom was trying to prevent me from falling apart. My father made it through surgery and was recovering thank God. He too had to have a stint placed. Jamie and I were there for each other and it was so odd that our father’s had the same operation. My dad had it a little rougher but they were both going to be fine, they just needed to be careful with diet and exercise.

We felt lucky, we felt like the worst was over and then something so horrible happened that it rocked our world. At the beginning of July Jamie’s already blind and yet amazingly athletic cousin, Mark Pollock, was in a horrific accident that almost took his life. He had fallen from a window only weeks away from his wedding and was paralyzed  with a broken back and many internal injuries. How could so many bad things happen within a few weeks of each other? Why? Mark was fighting for his life, a life that had already been so challenging for him, and both of our father’s were recovering from heart surgery. I somehow still felt lucky, I was talking to my best friend of nearly 15 years and I had him to lean on. Our family members were alive, not without struggles ahead but alive. Our conversations almost always started by asking how was Mark, or one of our Dad’s. We shared the latest update and then talked as usual but the conversations somehow left me sad when they were over.

All of the horrible things that happened made me really begin to think about life and how fragile it was. I had been so blessed with amazing parents, healthy siblings and wonderful friends. I had a lot of heartaches over the years but I had a relatively good life that had been full of amazing experiences. I was chubby but getting healthy again, I had made it through University twice and had a lot of potential but something was missing. I began sharing my thoughts with a friend at work who agreed with me that life was precious and we should make the most of it. I desperately wanted to make the most of it and I wanted it to be with Jamie but this was not a topic that I as going to discuss with him. Instead I listened to Jimmy Eat World’s song Carry You over and over and over and cried at least 50 times a day thinking about Jamie and wishing that we could figure out a way to be together. I couldn’t spend another moment without him, I still held onto hope that things would be different. I didn’t need the catastrophic wake-up call that I got but it did push me to move forward. So, I asked if he wanted to come to America for vacation again. Without hesitation he agreed that it was a great idea. We wanted a change of scenery, a fresh start, and it was to be Boston this time. Should I tell him I am desperately in love with him and I was willing to do anything to be with him? Only a little longer to wait… only a little longer. x heather


February 21, 2012
by heather

Time to bake

I was thinking about the fact that I am constantly saying bake some fresh bread to go with the soup recipes I post, but baking bread was a very daunting thought for me so I am sure that it is a scary thought for some of you too. I thought it only fair to show you that I actually do make the loaves that I post with my soup recipes. In order to set you all at ease I picked the bread I love to make so that you can see just how easy it is… soda bread. When I first made soda bread I took Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Classic soda bread recipe and made that, since then I have totally changed the recipe through experimentation. So, if you want the basic soda bread bake Hugh’s, if you want a super tasty and equally as easy soda bread make mine. This is a bread that is about speed and not how it looks but how it tastes and soda bread always tastes so good. So try it, here is how…

What you will need:

  • 250 g of plain flour (keep the bag handy for dusting the tray and work surface)
  • 250 g of strong wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 ml of natural yoghurt
  • 200 ml of milk (I use 2%)
  • a good squeeze of honey
  • a baking tray
  • a small whisk
  • a good sized mixing bowl
  • measuring jug

What you need to do:

  • Heat your oven to 200ºC/390ºF- You want your oven preheated before you pour your liquid into the flour mixture. Heat the oven while you get your other ingredients ready.
  • Get your big mixing bowl and mix your dry ingredients together (2 flours, bicarb and salt). There is no need to sieve the flour as whole meal doesn’t go through. Once these ingredients are thoroughly blended set the bowl aside.

Dry ingredients mixed

  • Next, get your measuring jug and whisk ready.
  • Put 200 ml of natural yoghurt in the jug and give a light tap to make sure the yoghurt is settled and even.
  • Pour in 200 ml of milk.
  • Add a good squeeze of honey to the jug (we have used maple syrup as well).
  • Whisk it up. If you don’t have a baby whisk or are like my Husband, just use a fork.
  • Once this is all well combined it will appear to be just a nice smooth thick milk, set it aside too while you wait for the oven to get fully preheated.

Wet ingredients ready to go.

Once your oven is heated get ready for some fast action. Soda bread is not meant to rise and it is not meant to be kneaded into oblivion. It is a quick quick process so make sure you are completely ready to go.

  • Lightly flour your baking tray and your work surface.
  • Pour the liquids into the flour mixture.
  • Use a spoon to begin mixing. Only mix well enough to get the ingredients to start to bind together (approximately 30 seconds). Through trial and error Jamie and I found that starting with the spoon instead of your hand was easier and less ingredients were stuck to your hands when your turned out the dough onto the work surface.

When it looks like this… Tip it out.

  • Once you tip your dough out onto the floured work surface get a move on… knead quickly. There will be a lot of flour at the bottom of your bowl that didn’t get wet yet… tip it out too and it will mix in.
  • I flour my hands and sprinkle flour on top of the dough and then fully combine the ingredients with my hands in less than a minute. I spin it, roll it, flip and smush it all together. No stretching it out like a traditional yeasty loaf.
  • I form my dough into a slightly oval loaf and place it on the floured baking tray.

*** If you need a visual tutorial watch Hugh’s Bread episode on YouTube. The soda bread is in the first few minutes, once you get through watching the 4 commercials that YouTube makes you endure it is worth it to watch Hugh. This whole episode is what got me brave. I love making bread now because of Hugh. I don’t think you will want to stop watching when the soda bread is finished.

Almost there!

  • When the dough is on the tray lightly sprinkle flour over it and score it. I do two slashes across it. The finished bread ends up with less pointy bits of crust than a cross cut did.

Ready for the oven

  • Once the bread is ready to go place it in your preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. This is usually when I make the soup. 😉
While we are waiting for the bread to bake let’s talk variations. This is one bread that seems unable to be messed up. This particular day I didn’t have enough natural yoghurt so I added in 100 ml natural yoghurt 100 ml natural greek yoghurt and then the milk and honey as usual. It was a hit! Other times we have made Hugh’s recipe as is or Hugh’s recipe with wholemeal flour instead of white. I mentioned the Maple Syrup instead of honey, and that was really tasty too. This bread is a mix and match bread. Just BE CAREFUL with the bicarbonate of soda. Do not mess with that at all. Jamie got the measurements wrong one time and we couldn’t eat the loaf but that was the only time. This bread is not about looking pretty, sometimes it looks great other times is looks crazy, the cracks have a mind of their own, but every time it is a success and tastes wonderful.
Time is up!

45 minutes later

When you pull the bread out of the oven you have a choice to make… crunchy crust or softer crust. If you want it crunchy just place it on a cooling rack and leave it. If you want your bread softer then wrap it in a clean dish towel. I have a towel from my Mom at home in the USA designated for bread use only.

I prefer the bread warm just out of the oven with butter. Jamie prefers it cooler when we have it with our soup so, I have been making it a little in advance in order to give it time to cool down a little.

What ever we don’t eat at dinner will go in a baggie overnight and then makes the most excellent toast in the world. This is so good with some apricot jam or marmalade courtesy of J’s Mum. Jamie is a traditional man so just butter spread for him but still it is fabulous toast! This loaf does not last long in our home, we usually eat it in 2 days.

Since we started making bread we have purchased maybe 3 loaves of bread from the store. Emergency, I need toast now because I am sick bread. We have saved money and really have learned to enjoy making bread at home. Jamie is the 5 hour bread maker but being the instant gratification girl that I am, I am sticking with playing with the soda bread.

So now.. go on… roll up those sleeves and get baking. You can do it! Trust me! You will be so pleased with yourself when you can serve up a fresh homemade loaf of bread to go with that meal. Let me know how it goes. x heather

February 13, 2012
by heather

Finding my center

After our trip to NYC I kept my promise to myself to throw away my only size 16 pair of jeans. I lost 40 lbs (nearly 3 stone) from April to October of 2008 with a lot of hard work on my part and support from Holly, who went for many many miles of walks and runs with me over the months. I was determined to get myself back on track no matter what. At the end of my relationship in 2006 I made a deal with myself to not get into any more relationships for a long time. I needed a totally clean slate… I needed to love myself for a while. This proved to be hard but I finally got it right. The weight was coming off and the confidence was slowly but surely coming back. I was feeling better and better about myself but my conversations with one really important person were lacking.

2009 began with the usual Happy New Year email from Jamie. He said this year he had made a list of things that he wanted to do and one of them was to be a better, more talkative friend. Our messages had severely diminished since our last NYC trip. I responded that I wanted him to be the kind of friend that he could be or needed to be, not one that he felt forced to be. I told him that we weren’t kids anymore and we talked as often as we could. My life was very busy with my main client and my body re-vamp and his was very busy with his job at Equator and new friends. I told him that I had no expectations and I just wanted him to be himself, whatever that meant. God how I wish I hadn’t said this.

At some point at the beginning of the year we decided to stop talking although we have no written record of this. I wanted to do this so Jamie would move on and he wanted it so he could as well. Loving each other was just not enough. I loved him enough to let him go. It broke my heart to think of Jamie with someone else but I wanted him to be happy and I wasn’t the one that could make that happen. We had stopped talking for periods of time before for the same reasons but this new found resolution on his part was something different, something serious.

I felt that I owed it to him to leave him alone and let him get on with his life. As much as it hurt me I tried to respect his wishes but I did get in touch in February when my dog Bradley died suddenly. He said the same consoling words I had said to him when his beloved dog Kerry had passed away a few months earlier. I was devastated and just wanted to talk to Jamie but my comfort zone was gone. I had to let him go and these few words were all I had to hold onto. He had kept his part of the bargain and it was now my turn.

Suddenly and without any real decision to end my single-hood, I met someone. I fell fast and hard. He was in New York City and I was so wrapped up with being in love with NYC and falling for someone that was there that months seemed to whizz by but Jamie was never ever out of my mind. Everywhere I walked in the city I could visualize Jamie being silly pointing at something. He was on my mind everywhere I went. Every street was significant to me and Jamie. I couldn’t be there without thinking about him. What was I really in love with, the city or the man… and which man was I really in love with?

Pointing at fish in the Natural History Museum

Pointing at tall ships in South St. Seaport

God only knows what he was pointing at here. Love the smile!

Pointing at the building we pretended was the Ghostbusters apartment.

I missed him… I missed his smile… I missed the way he could make me laugh against my will… I missed Jamie but not enough to go against his wishes. I would not get in touch. I had to let him go. Then in October he did it… he really actually did it… he broke my heart. He forgot my birthday for the first time in 13 years. He was not the one to get to me with the first Birthday wish. There was no email to open when I woke up. No “Wake up! Have a great day. Happy Birthday Peanut!” Nothing… just nothing except pain. I tried to let it go, I tried to pretend it wasn’t that big of a deal but it was, it ate at me all day. I must have checked my email a thousand times. The ache had grown until I couldn’t take it and late that night I sent him a message that was one line… 🙁  first time in 13 years you didn’t say happy birthday.”

At the same time, Jamie was having a fit in the pub after having received my message and realizing he had forgotten. His friends asked why he was so upset? What was the big deal because we had stopped talking? He couldn’t explain why he felt like his “stomach had dropped out” but he felt sick. He didn’t let me know he was so upset at the time but this is something he held on to as well. He responded with sincere apologies and said that he had remembered the week before and the day before but he forgot on the day. The damage had been done and my brain was sent spinning. I didn’t respond any further.

Some weeks after the forgotten birthday I was still desperate to talk to him but I couldn’t, he had really let me go. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it hurt to not have him say Happy Birthday to me first. I never wanted to hurt like that again, I never wanted there to be another birthday that went by without Jamie there. I wanted to let him know I was thinking about him. I wanted to let him know it hurt so much but I thought I was being silly. I couldn’t say I love you, be with me, forget our deal, I miss the hell out of you… so I sent him a package of all of his favorite American sweets but no letter. I couldn’t think of the right things to say and I then I realized I really didn’t want to say anything at all. I just wanted to let him know… just know that he was on my mind.

The months passed by and I thought about him everyday like usual but now it was worse, I thought about him all the time. I looked at his pictures on Facebook and wondered who the people were. Who was the pretty blonde? Was he dating? He looked happy… was he actually happy? Did he miss me? Was he thinking about me too? God he looks good with a beard! I was spinning… I felt sick… I felt like a stalker and this was my “best friend.” How did we end up like this? Why can’t I move on too?

My relationship was crumbling and I didn’t really do much to fight for it once I realized that it was not worth fighting for something that was fake and based on feelings I had for a place not a person. I hated where I had gotten to again and I knew why I was there. I missed Jamie. I needed my sounding board, my center…I needed him in my life so I broke my word once again… on March 8th of 2010 I couldn’t take it anymore and I finally had an excuse to write to Jamie. It was a silly excuse but it was an excuse he would understand, I had run out of the vanilla musk that he had been sending me for years from a drugstore in Scotland. Terrified and heart pounding I sent him a short message… “ever coming back across the pond? missing my best friend and my vanilla.”  I didn’t have long to wait before I saw “Our operators are waiting for your order…” in my inbox. He sent a wee message with it, “It popped into my head that you’d be out of vanilla a couple of weeks ago. The thought did not sit well with me.” 

I was beyond happy. I read it over and over through my tears. I didn’t know what it meant for us but I knew he had been thinking about me too. He was thinking about me too. x heather



February 6, 2012
by heather

Fade to black

2008 started as so many years had, a Happy New Year email from Jamie. It was an extremely good start to the year for us. We were in rare form. Talking almost daily via email and making each other laugh so often that it was just like when we were kids. It felt really good to be silly and free. How we got here was through the grace of something greater than us, something that knew we were not done with each other yet.

Jamie had settled into his new job at Equator. He was making friends and generally loving the daily frustrations of fixing and building new websites. He had found his niche finally and he was thriving. I, on the other hand, was getting fatter but I had started with one of the most challenging clients I would ever have, a deaf, blind and profoundly autistic boy. I grew to love this child and his family more than I ever imagined I would. I learned so much about myself and about what I was capable of at the very same time that Jamie was expanding his own understanding of himself. We were oceans apart but going through parallel journeys that would make us into the people we are today.

Things were so good between us that we decided we would take another trip into NYC. We had a good amount of banter about the usual nonsense that two 30 something’s do and it was fun. We didn’t see any harm in teasing at this point because we believed we had moved past the being together stuff that had hurt us so many times. We loved each other more than anything and joked about being one another’s back-up if we didn’t find someone who could deal with all of our individual issues. We were on familiar ground but this time it felt safer. We had decided to not try to be together again, the risk of losing our friendship was more than either one of us was willing to deal with. So… on we joked and on we planned a late in life marriage.

April of 2008 came and I was huge… brace yourself… approximately 220 lbs/ 15st 10lb. I had finally realized something needed to change and I was ready to continue my journey of finding myself again. I knew I was there burried under the years of neglect and bad relationships but I had one last humiliating thing to go through before it was going to happen and that was my week with Jamie in NYC. I went out and bought my one and only size 16 jeans (US) and swore I would throw them away the following week. I wanted to be as comfortable as I could be with Jamie but I was terrified to see his reaction to how big I was. He knew I had gained weight because I kept begging him to not take pictures of me in stealth mode.  He was good at taking pictures of me from behind and that was a view that was strictly forbidden after a 2007 photo dis-ass-ter. As in, my ass was huge and I didn’t need to see it from that angle ever again. He promised he would only take pictures when I allowed and I wasn’t feeling like I would allow much.

So, the date of our New York arrival had come. We were in our favorite hotel again, On the Ave, and it felt good to be back there. We made a list of things we wanted to do this time and we had some people we were going to meet up with. By chance, our mutual friend Irvine was going o be in NY with his wife at the exact same time that we were, so it was set to be a great week of excellent food, friends and shopping. I was trying very hard to just be chilled out about my weight and know that it was going to be gone soon, but it was hard to see my beautiful healthy friend again when I was in such a state. I immediately became a little distant, even though he didn’t treat me or look at me differently. He said, “You know how I feel” in his letters and I did, he could see through it all even now.

When we booked our room we had decided on a King Sized bed to share because it was cheaper, I may as well have been on the floor as far away as I was sleeping. I wished we had had two beds so I wouldn’t be so ashamed of myself. Jamie was his usual quiet self, very absorbed in his camera where I think he feels most at home.

Where he was most comfortable

I was so uncomfortable, this time I knew for sure that I was unhappy with myself and these feelings had nothing to do with Jamie. He could not fix me, he could not love me until I fixed and loved myself. I set out to try to make our week as enjoyable as possible with as few mutually uncomfortable moments as possible but that went horribly wrong in the blink of an eye.

One night Jamie and I met up with an old girlfriend of mine from my year at Glasgow University. She and I had been the only American’s in our hall to stay the whole year and we hadn’t seen each other in years so we wanted to catch up. In hind sight it was a really bad idea to do this with Jamie there. My friend immediately brought up our boyfriends from that year and I I fell into that trap of talking about the thousands of stupid things we did. I could see Jamie becoming uncomfortable and even sad, a look I knew on him very well. Part of me was mad at him for not just being able to be my friend but part of me was mad at myself for not controlling the conversation a little better. But I have to admit, my friend is a force to be reckoned with but I could have been less eager to talk about the old days of our youth.

Jamie left us to go back to the hotel, at my suggestion, again another bad choice. I was not gentle about wanting him to do this, my temper was getting the best of me. Why couldn’t he just see that we were reminiscing about a year that was huge for us? Why couldn’t he just laugh at the stupid things we were remembering? Why couldn’t I stop being such a bitch? Why was that my automatic defence mechanism? The night ended with my friend joining us in our kingsized bed after she and I had a few pints at a local bar and laughing at a high priced hooker on our hotel roof terrace. Although it was a rough night for us emotionally there was part of me that was happy to have the excuse to be closer to Jamie in the bed. It was dark, he was so warm and I would almost remember what it was like to cuddle up with him… almost.

Another day we met with Irvine and also my old friend from high school, Thorin, Jamie had met him on our 2006 trip into the city. We had a really easy going lunch and it was so nice to have two parts of my life meet like that. It was always great to see Thorin and I knew he would be able to easily talk to both Jamie, who he knew and Irvine, whom he had never met. It was truly and enjoyable afternoon.

Thorin and Jamie

Irvine, Thorin and Jamie

Trying to not cringe. I hate this photo.

The next day Jamie and I met with Irvine and his thin, beautiful, fancy Chinese wife, Lin. God that made me feel so ashamed! We went to a coffee and tea expo and had a pleasant time sampling so many different things. I had my fortune read and it strangely aligned with my feelings for where I was heading and my feelings for Jamie. He had been no where near me when I had this done so I don’t think there could have been any visual clues that were given to the fortune teller. It was odd, and it made me hopeful yet so sad. I wanted to go home. I wanted to cry my heart out but I needed to pull it together, we had more of our day to spend with Irvine and Lin.

It was so nice to see Irvine as it had been so many years since we had last been able to hang out. He had been such a close friend of mine and I wanted to get to know the woman who had changed his life so much. I was not going to let a little fortune ruin the day completely. We  decided to go shopping mostly for Lin, but we all ended up having a good laugh at some of the things Lin was trying to get Irvine to wear. My Depeche Mode loving, combat boot wearing friend was going to be in a pastel stripy sweater over my dead body. It really was funny and it felt good to laugh. It was nice to finally get to know Lin and it was hard to say good bye to Irvine, things seemed easier when he was around. The tension was lifted when we were all together. I enjoyed those moments so much.

On our way home from leaving Irvine and Lin we ran into one of my favorite attractions in NYC, the horses. I love the horse drawn carriages and always talked to and stroked as many horses that I was allowed to. Most drivers are really nice and allow you to say hello to them. Jamie and I had never been on a carriage ride in Central Park, we thought now would be a great time to do it.

Smiles that hide the sadness

Saying good bye to our horse

During our ride we didn’t talk much to each other, I was asking the driver too many questions about the horses and animal cruelty laws to protect them. He was great and Jamie was very patient with me. We did have a beautiful evening to enjoy but I would not say that it was a romantic affair that most horse drawn carriage rides through central park should be. I am glad we did it but the pictures of us show we are tired. I had never seen those pictures until about two months ago. Jamie didn’t include them when he sent me the disc of our trip. When I saw them recently I cried and I knew they had to be included. The pictures say what we weren’t.

Our last day in the city my best friend, Holly, came in to spend some time with Jamie and to take me home. We had a nice afternoon. The weather was beautiful and it was refreshing to have her there with us. Before we left Jamie wanted to take some pictures of me with Holly on our roof terrace. I was not happy about the idea but I wanted a nice picture with Holly and hopefully at least one nice picture of me. Jamie always manages to get a good one. Maybe beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I was smiling for him… I wanted him to have something to remember that I was still in there. I could still smile and I could still be in his life like he remembered me.

The real smile... my smile for Jamie.

Over the next 8 months there were only 18 emails from Jamie… in 2009 there was only 1.  x heather

January 27, 2012
by heather

Try and Try Again…Final Chapter

When Jamie left me in July 0f 2007 it was very odd. We felt that there were a lot of things that were left unsaid, Jamie especially was feeling it. He sent me a letter titled “Done Waiting” and it was amazing. He gave me permission to use the quotes from his letters.

 “I know how I feel about you now. I love you more than anything else in the world. The person who has been formed by 30 years of life. You, right this second. I loved you just a tiny bit differently yesterday, just tiny bit differently the day before, but that’s gone. Now is where I am.”

“I can hear his voice in my head… Just get on with it. Life is always, always too short you have someone like Heather Zanicky in your life. So tell her everything. How   she should be with you. How you are both so imperfect and yet perfect for each other, how you can complete each other and make each other strong, take care of each other. How you can drive each other mad but always seem to find a way out when that happens. Tell her how she always makes you want to be better than you are. Tell her how she makes you feel something new ever time she turns her head in your direction…Even tell her about the tickle in the pit of your stomach that you get whenever she moves a certain way… I love you and I want to marry you and spend the rest of our lives together.”

He said things that made me catch my breath. It brought me hope that we would finally get it right but part of me was terrified. We loved each other but how would we get past the awkward? So many years of failing to say how we felt when we were face to face. We didn’t know how it was going to happen but we decided we were going to give it a  try.

Our conversations began to be in depth about what would happen, where we would live, how we would handle arguing (I used to have a horrible temper), when we would get married, etc… Jamie was coming back right away. He booked a ticket for the end of August and we were going to work it out from there… somehow. My parents were thrilled, he told his parents and they were more cautious about it all I think.

So the weeks went on and we planned and planned. Talking on MSN messenger for hours. We had gotten really good at this and I was hoping that it would translate to face to face time. I prayed that the awkward silences would go away and that we would be like we were at 19 years old. I wanted those happy go lucky kids back. We were so full of life and possibilities and I knew we could be there again.

Jamie arrived  and my Mom had to get him. I had been stuck working so there was no happy moment at the airport or getting that first awkward moment out of the way. No… I had to sit with anxiety all day. I was a wreck by the time I was supposed to go home. Thank God for Jamie’s amazing memory, I don’t remember it but he said I didn’t come straight home. I went to a friends house down the street to calm down. I think I was so terrified. On top of all that anxiety and all of the years of loving this man and not knowing how to make it work, I was FAT! Really fat. I had rounded the 200lbs mark (for my UK friends that is over 14 stone) and I was miserable. I didn’t feel attractive and I didn’t know how he would be attracted to me. He said he loved me and he had seen me only a few months ago but I was gross in my mind. These feelings didn’t really lead us to a good start.

When I finally saw Jamie I honestly can’t remember what happened. This is not very good for blogging sake but 2007 seems to be one of those years that doesn’t want to let go of me but I can’t remember all of what happened. It was crushing and I think that I blocked it out. Jamie and I were so uncomfortable trying to just cuddle how was anything more going to be possible. I could feel how Jamie was uncomfortable and very stiff when I was next to him. Why couldn’t he relax? Then my head got the best of me… I thought it must be that he didn’t think I was attractive anymore. I began to pull away from him and I know it made things harder on him too. How had things gone so wrong, again? This was beginning to look like some cruel joke that God was playing on me. The big tease. “Here he is but you can’t have him.” Heartbreaking stuff is what dreams are made of.

We tried to get some excitement back and we went to Philadelphia. We thought a day trip would be good to get us out of the rut we were in. Well… we ended up at Tiffany’s. I looked at the ring I had loved and somehow it just looked different. I was different, I was broken… just broken. Jamie wanted to get me something and it was almost my birthday so we looked around. I didn’t want something that was as delicate as the necklace he had bought me in Atlantic city. I was working with violent kids and I didn’t want it to get broken. I saw this chunky looking necklace that was kid proof and Jamie agreed that it was the one. It was so great but I felt a twinge of guilt. I loved that he wanted to get me beautiful things, no one ever had, but what could I do for him? I told him so often that I didn’t deserve it but he always disagreed. I didn’t want to seem ungracious so I didn’t argue. I accepted the necklace and I love it. I still wear it all the time.

This trip was not only heartbreaking for both of us but it hurt our parents to see us so sad when it was all over. They had hoped we would be together because there was genuine love there but somewhere along the line we lost the intimacy. When Jamie got home I had written him a letter trying to explain how I felt and trying to figure out what had gone wrong. I thought we had tried to force intimacy because we wanted to be together so desperately. Jamie agreed. The letter that I got as a response is the only letter he has ever written to me that has broken my heart.

“I love you and care for you and I can’t do those things when I’m  trying to force us together, to be in love. Because I’m not in love  with you. It is something else, something you don’t deserve. I hope I  can stop it and get back to the really important stuff with you and me. That’s the thing that’s always been there between us, waiting to  breathe again…being friends. Properly.”

We both agreed that running away from each other was not want we wanted. We wanted to be close friends again. We wanted to see if we could get there again. We may have given up on being together but we were not giving up on our friendship. I needed to not get so mad all the time. I needed to try to breathe more and be calm. I felt Jamie needed to be more confident. He never stood up for what he wanted, so it seemed. I wanted him to be bold and speak his mind face to face but he was just not there… not yet. We both had things we needed to work on and we knew it.

Although this was one of the worst years of our friendship it did not crush us. We managed against all odds to hold onto each other. In the years to come things didn’t get instantly easier but they did get a whole lot clearer after one or two more battles. x heather


January 16, 2012
by heather

Sister-in-Law Soup

Over the holidays Jamie and I were with his family in Alva. On Christmas day Kathryn, his sister, made soup for a light lunch before we gorged ourselves on the huge Christmas dinner. Jamie and I had made two different kinds of bread to bring along, coupled together with the soup this was the perfect lunch. The soup was so good that I asked Kathryn what was in it. I have made it four times since Christmas and it never fails to please my palate. Are you ready for another extremely simple yet amazingly good soup? This one is such a winner and virtually fat free depending on the stock you use.

What you will need:

  • 1 leek
  • 2 medium white potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 cup (or there abouts) red split lentils
  • 1 stock cube of your choice (Kathryn used ham stock and I use vegetable stock)
  • 2 pints of water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Note: This recipe makes approximately 3 to 4 servings. Jamie and I usually have a good sized bowl each at dinner and he has enough to take to work the next day for lunch.

What you need to do:

  • First peel the carrots and potatoes.
  • Next chop the carrots and leeks in half length wise and then slice. Check if the leek is dirty after you half it, if yes give it a rinse before chopping.
  • Then cube the potatoes.
  • Add a tbsp of olive oil to a pot and heat it, then add the veggies and briefly sauté to soften them. Usually I do this until the kettle is boiled and the stock cube is disolved in the 2 pints of water.

Ready to go veggies.

  •  Once the veggies have sautéed add your stock and stir it all up.
  •  Once the stock is added and has been brought to a boil add in the lentils.
  • Allow this to simmer covered on low for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. If you do this for longer it doesn’t hurt a thing.

Ready to boil.

Once the soup has simmered for a little while it is ready. You can eat this one right away. No blending required. I have actually gotten this soup going, taken my post gym shower and it was ready to eat by the time my hair was dry. Excellent! It can also be left on the stove for a few hours covered and then simply reheated when you are ready  to eat it.

I do not add any salt or pepper while I am cooking this soup. It never needs salt ever but Jamie does like to add a pinch of black pepper to his bowl. I recommend tasting it first before you add anything. Keep it healthy!

Ready to serve!

Once again I made Soda bread to go along with the soup and served it with a selection of cheeses. This soup really hits the spot. It is so quick and nutritious I dare you not to like it. This soup actually made me wonder how I ever lived without leeks. This winter has brought the versatile leek to the forefront of my soup explorations. If you have anymore leek recipes that are winners… pass them on. I would love to give them a try. Now go on, make some soup. x heather

January 9, 2012
by heather

Try and Try again…Part One

2007 started off so well. Jamie and I had been talking regularly about the things we wanted to do with our lives and he was making a big move. He was quitting his job and had been looking for a new one in Glasgow. I had accepted a job that I declined to go to Scotland in 2006.  We were both happy with where we were heading and it was a good start to 2007. But this is the year that things really began to sound like a broken record for us.

In July Jamie planned on coming over to visit. We were going to do a lot on this trip. We had planned to go to Atlantic City, New York City and spend some down time in Wilkes-Barre with my family. The trip was something we were really looking forward to. We were heading back to NYC and we were staying in a new place, which turned out to be not so great and will not be mentioned here. We preferred On the Ave for so many reasons. In Atlantic City we were staying right on the boardwalk at Caesars and that was a nice hotel in a great location. Spending time with Jamie was something my parents wanted too. They had loved him for years and made no secret of their desire for us to be together even if that meant me moving to Scotland.

When Jamie arrived I was excited as usual. I couldn’t wait to see him but the nerves always got the best of both of us. This is not to say that there were not some really great moments on this trip but quiet time spent with Jamie was fraught with anxiety and hopes were always dashed. So we did our now routine of running around all day and crashing at night so we would minimize the awkward moments.

We went to NYC first. This was another amazing time. We did a lot but at a much slower pace than last time. We took long walks around the city, did some shopping, sight seeing as usual and frequented a newly discovered Sushi restaurant. One memorable thing that we did, which ended up being so funny, happened on one of our walks in Central Park. The day was really hot and we were tired and hungry so we decided to get drinks and something to eat and have a little sit down in the park. While we were sitting we noticed that a film crew was setting something up. We were intrigued, especially me. I was and still am a huge fan of Law and Order SVU and I was hoping that an episode of the show was about to be filmed. So I asked Jamie if we could sit and watch for a while until we could find out what was going on, he agreed. We sat for ages and watched as the crew set things up, lights and cables were everywhere. Then people started to arrive that looked as though they were actors. After well over an hour I finally asked on of them what was being shot… a Yaz commercial. Yaz… really? We sat for nearly two hours watching a birth control commercial getting ready to be filmed! We decided it was a good time to leave. Now every time I see that commercial I think of sitting there waiting to see some stars with Jamie and what we got were yoga mat carrying, birth control using extras.

Our trip to Atlantic City was so full of things that I don’t know where to begin. We packed in things for all waking hours. We watched very good street entertainers, walked the boardwalk looking at the same rubbish in different stores, took a walk on the beach at night (and got chased off the beach by a cop on a quad bike), I got my hands tattooed with Henna courtesy of Jamie, and in return Jamie had his first funnel cake. That was something to see, Jamie digging into dough and powdered sugar was bliss to behold. We were very near The Pier Shops which excited Jamie because there was an Apple store there. I was excited because there was a Tiffany’s. We could both go look at things that we wanted. It was an easy way to get our minds off of the elephant that was between us.

At Tiffany’s I looked at so many beautiful things. There was a bracelet that I couldn’t take my eyes off of and it was $350 and I kept coming back to a necklace that was probably the cheapest thing in the store at $98. I Kept thinking that I should buy that necklace for myself as a reward for finishing up my MSc and getting a good job. I walked away from Tiffany’s empty handed but kept that heart necklace in my mind.

The next day Jamie and I went back to the mall just to browse some more and I was drawn into Tiffany’s again. I loved the bracelet so much but could never afford it. I decided to not get my necklace either and that is when Jamie made his move towards Adrienne who had been helping us. He said he was going to get me the bracelet and the necklace and I said “NO!” He said it was a good exchange rate and he wanted me to have them. I said that it was too much money and to choose one if he was certain he wanted to buy me a gift. Adrienne just looked at Jamie and asked which one, then winked at him and he handed her the credit card… I left with 2 pieces of Jewellery from Tiffany’s. Jamie was smiling as big as I was. I was shocked and felt unworthy of such wonderful things but appreciated that I had a man who loved me enough to buy me jewellery from Tiffany’s. This was the beginning of our love for shopping at the store with the little blue boxes.

When I look back on this trip I think of how we had such a wonderful time in spite of the awkward moments. I enjoyed so many new things with Jamie and it made us long for more. We began to talk seriously about getting married. We had a ring picked out at none other than Tiffany’s and we were going to do it this time. We didn’t have a plan but we knew we needed to try… he was coming back in September and we were going to make it happen…so we thought. x heather



December 25, 2011
by heather

Learning to be patient and just let go

If this past year has taught me anything it is this… I need to be patient and let go of some of my control. I always seemed to be an instant gratification girl. If I wanted to go to the movies and no one was around I would go by myself, If I wanted a new job I would get one, If I wanted a new book I would buy it, I was never good at waiting for my grades, friends’ chronic lateness drove me mental… get the picture? In my adult life I have not really had the patience to wait for much. I am a planner and I like to get things done but this past year has completely destroyed that impatient control freak person.

Since last December I have had to wait for everything and I mean everything and my level of control over my own existence has decreased. I had to wait to see Jamie in January, my whole work was counting down with me. I had to complete many Visa forms and wait for Jamie to complete his half. He was really good at this but not having the control over a lot of it made me antsy. Then I had to wait for the Visa to be approved. Having a person that I have never met read my letters and look at personal information in order to decide if I am allowed to be with the man I love was beyond hard. How can someone actually have the power to grant a person access to its heart’s desire? Once my privacy was invaded, fingerprints checked and face photographed my Visa was approved, exactly 10 days later. Then came the waiting for my return to Scotland, again a big countdown made it easier to bear. Crossing off calendars was something I had control of since I couldn’t control the sun rising and setting.

Once I was finally in Scotland I had the paperwork for the Wedding to complete and even that had a “can’t be turned in before his date” clause. I hated to wait. I just wanted the paperwork in someone else’s hands so that I would feel like the process was in motion. Planning the wedding was helpful with passing the days but I wanted to work so badly and was not allowed to due to my visa status. I missed working and we knew this would be a problem for me. To satisfy my need to work I got not one but two volunteer jobs. I was going stir crazy waiting for the wedding and my family and best friend to arrive. Then it finally happened… We got Married!!!! Amen! But now what was next… Oh yes wait for the Marriage Certificate to be sent out so that we could fill out the next Visa application and then wait some more.

In the meantime, a real job came up that I was encouraged to apply for even though they knew my Visa was still pending. I didn’t think I would actually get it but I had a good shot. I didn’t want to be cocky but every job I had ever applied for I had gotten. I was this ––– close to a job and really being able to contribute to my marriage. My Visa for my Spouse Leave to Remain was finally approved after 2 whole months and our passports going AWOL. Big sigh… I was finally legally allowed to work in the UK. Then SMACK! I didn’t get the job. How could that be? I was more than qualified and well liked at the place. I felt like I had wasted a whole month and 1/2 waiting to be rejected. I was thrown back so far and I began to question if I had really wanted the job or had I been pressured into applying. God help me, I had some more waiting to do.

I decided that I was better off without that job because I really missed working with the children. I looked at local day care centers and figured that would be an easy in. At home people always asked why I wanted to work for them because with my Master degree in Education, I was over qualified and they couldn’t pay me what I am worth. I figured it would be a small pay but something to start with. I applied to two local nurseries and then SMACK! SMACK! I was not qualified for the positions. This I didn’t get at all. I had a Masters degree in Education, 1 year of being a head teacher of a two year old class and 4 years of working with Autistic children. How was I not qualified to change diapers? I found out, I needed to have an early years certification to be registered with the SSSC. SSSC? I had to look that up too. Scottish Social Services Council. Daycare in the UK is considered Social Work? God I was confused and that equaled more waiting.

I had to call this person to be transferred to that person to find out this information that took me back to person A and then they recommended this thing that another person said would not work and then I just hung up the phone and cried… and cried… and cried. I was lost and I admit I still am.

It is now nearly 3 months since I have been able to work and still nothing. I have contacted more inept people and had more fits of tears and have barely more information than I started with. I have gathered that I need to expand what I am looking to do. It seems that no one will take me on due to the bureaucratic checking of boxes that I can’t fulfill because I don’t have a little college certificate that has taught me “How to Play.” I have had to learn to swallow pride which is so hard when I know what I have accomplished. At the same time I have had to dig to find my self worth that has been severely battered. My emotions are all over the place and I still have so much more to learn about the rules in the UK. Even if they don’t make sense to me they are the rules here.

So… more phone calls need to be made, more letters sent and I am sure more rejections will follow. I need someone to give me a shot, to not just look at the boxes but actually know the rules that go with the boxes. One thing that I have found out is that I AM allowed to work without being registered with the SSSC and I have 3 years once I am employed to get that stupid certificate that is well beneath my already earned Master Degree but no one knows the real rules and will not expand their minds outside of the boxes and see the loving, well educated teacher with a ton of experience and a lot to contribute. Take a breath… see I told you I am learning to swallow my pride… learning.

So, I will get through the holidays, officially my first with my husband ever, and then I will hit the ground running again. I pray that I will be patient because lets face it, it is be patient or go mad with worry, disappointment and feelings of worthlessness. I will get there and I am learning how to accept the things I have no control over. I will persevere, I will make it and I will finally begin to live when the waiting is over. x heather

December 18, 2011
by heather

Run away thesis

So at the end of yet another failed relationship, this one being the worst of all, I ran to the computer to talk to my best friend. This one tried to literally tear Jamie from my life. He completely invaded my privacy by reading every letter and email Jamie had ever written to me, freaked out on me and forbid me to talk to him… and that was it! I was done. It was not easy to get out of that mess but I did. It is hard to believe that Jamie was the one I always went to with a broken heart after being crapped on by my partner. It wasn’t a girlfriend, no, it was my best male friend who I happened to know was in love with me and I knew that hearing me so sad hurt him. But see, if you haven’t gathered it already… he was my bright light… my peace… my center. Even when he was just listening to me, letting me cry it out, I knew he was with me. He would always reassure me that it would be ok.

This breakup was not going away. I was trying to finish my Master’s Thesis and I was getting nowhere but stalked and frustrated. I wanted to just get away from it all. I had been talking to Jamie everyday, several times a day and he kept encouraging me and giving me hope that I would get done. I was so stressed out and was being pulled in so many directions that one day I just blurted out that I wanted to go over to stay with him. He didn’t even think before he said he would have some drawers cleaned out and ready for me. That was it… decision made… I was going to Scotland to stay with Jamie for an indefinite amount of time.

We discussed how we would live, when we could get my dog and if I could get a job when I was done with my degree. We hadn’t really discussed being a couple but our conversations were all about building a life, a new life for both of us. I got my ticket and I was ready for to finish this chapter of my life and start a new one with Jamie whatever that meant.

I arrived at the end of October 2006 and was greeted by that amazing smile and a huge hug. I felt better already. We got back to his apartment and he showed me the drawers he had prepared for me to put my things. He was too good to me. I set up a nightstand on the one side of the bed but I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of sharing a bed…even though it was a nice big one. I had decided that I would sleep on the couch for a while. As it turned out, the couch was the best place for me. When Jamie went to sleep at night I would take the silent time and work on my thesis. I began to clear my head and his Mac was the most amazing computer I had ever used. I could have all the things I needed open on the screen at one time. It made life so much easier and so did knowing Jamie was in the next room.

The routine began… Jamie to sleep, me to work on my thesis until usually 6 or 7 AM. He would get up, get ready and go to work. If I had been asleep on the couch I would stay there if I was awake I would go crawl into Jamie’s side of the bed and cuddle his pillow and sleep there for a few hours. Then up, food, and more thesis. I also began to think long and hard about what it was that I wanted and what was I doing. I was with Jamie, my best friend and the best man I had ever known but I was still unhappy. I was being treated terribly by my thesis advisor who was pulling power trips left and right. My real advisor had died suddenly and I had fallen through the cracks when dividing up her students. When I approached the department with the problem this woman was a terror and denied ever receiving any of the 7 emails I sent or the 3 voicemails. Needless to say it was a really painful time in my academic career. I was not alone while going through it, the dean of education was cc’d in on all of my correspondance and she began to help me through the finishing touches and gave approval for things that the witch was ignoring or being critical about. I also had Jamie, quietly sitting by me with loving reassurance.

Our routine became more solid as the days passed, we began to make dinner together every night and I was keeping busy with my thesis and keeping the apartment nice but we were not connecting. We sat on separate couches while watching movies or TV. I can remember exactly how I felt with him so close but still too far away. I wanted to sit next to him, to hold his hand or rest my head on his shoulder but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was a mess and felt like hell, how could I go over there? Why would he want me to? I thought, if he wanted to be with me he would come over and sit with me. I was stupid but I was also depressed and a depressed brain never can think rationally about anything. I was in the worst shape physically and mentally that I had ever been in my life and he was still right there, still loving me from a distance. He was patient and helpful, always there when I needed to bounce an idea off of him or needed a book from the library. He was a Godsend and I was so lucky to have him.

We did some different things though. I think Jamie was trying to get me out of my funk. We picked out new glasses for him, his were like 20 years old. This was fun and he looked so different in the new glasses. He instantly went from being a boy to a man. Jamie also took me to a concert in Glasgow to see a guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. They were amazing. It was one of the first nights I really felt alive again. We also spent a day in Edinburgh. We went to Mary King’s Close to get scared and we wandered around the Christmas Market. I had a great day even though I was still sad I managed a few great smiles that he caught with his camera. This is the one truly amazing thing about Jamie, he always could make me smile. I loved that about him. Even when I was in the darkness of my brain he could pull me out.

As my thesis was finally completed I had more time to think about what I needed to do, I had run out of money and I missed my family. There were many nights when I was on the couch crying and I wished Jamie would come hold me and tell me it would be ok but he kept his distance. I learned from talking to him recently, that he didn’t want to upset me or push me away and he simply didn’t know how to comfort me in my state. I didn’t have any time where I felt relief from being done with my thesis I felt like I needed to fix things at home. I had run away from not just my ex but I had run away from reality. I needed to love myself for a little while so I made the decision to go back home just before Christmas.

The rest of the trip is hazy to me. I think that a lot of that part of my life is. I blocked it out. I do know that I did begin to feel better, I had lost about 15 lbs and I was ready to take on life back at home. I know now that my decision hurt Jamie but he never told me that December. He cared for me so much he always put me first. God what I would have given for him to shake me and tell me “Don’t Go!” But he didn’t. All of the nights he wanted to take me by the hand and lead me to the big comfy bed to sleep, he didn’t. It is not his fault we didn’t stay together it was a joint lack of communication… again. I went home… we fell back into our routine of emailing daily and IMing. I missed him but I needed my parents and I needed a job so home was best for me then. When I was having a bad day I would look at the picture of Jamie smiling and it would lift me up. Even though he was sad I was leaving, he was smiling for me.

The smile I held on to.

Recently we had occasion to be back near that flat in Stirling. We walked to it in the dark and began to really talk about things that happened and didn’t happen there. I began to cry at the horrible missed opportunity and for all of the things that he did for me. I felt all of the sadness I had felt back in 2006 but then Jamie, with the strength that he now possesses in spades, said what has become his routine line for me when I am sad about the past… “We are here now.” We strongly agree that we would not be the people we are and we would not be where we are had our entire history not have gone as it had. The pain, the joy, the longing… it made us strong it made us who we are. We are here now, together the way it was meant to be. x heather