The first chapter of my love novel began when I visited London, England circa summer 1993.
Picture me … a typical teenager donning a black velvet choker and Dr. Martens listening to “If” by Janet Jackson repeatedly on my yellow Sony Walkman.
Ask me about visiting the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace and honestly, I have no recollection.
What I fondly remember was meeting a group of uber-stylish girls (daughters of my mom’s friends) with posh accents taking me on my first double-decker bus trip and introducing me to bacon crisps.
And developing a crush on one of my friend’s brother Phil*.
When I first laid eyes on him, my heart jumped with the intensity of instant infatuation coupled with the agonizing despair knowing our time would expire.
Phil had a quiet demeanor to him which at that time, I took it as a bad attitude. So we barely spoke to each other.
My friends played matchmaker relaying messages from me to Phil like a human telephone game. I wonder what messages were received and what messages were lost in translation.
They must have said something positive because I received a letter from Phil upon my return to Canada.
After a few letters exchanged, he asked me to be his girlfriend.
Perhaps it was in denial or defense mechanism to avoid a broken heart (some things never change!), I dismissed his proposal as a joke and never responded.
Fast forward 23 years later, my friends were playing matchmaker yet again when I was recently back in London.
During afternoon tea at Oscar Wilde Cafe, Phil’s name came up and one of the girls decided to text him to set up a date.
He didn’t respond until the following day with an excuse that he was busy with work all week and couldn’t take me out.
Now I have confirmation that my puppy love interest was really an optical illusion.
But there is nothing like an unexpected twist to spice up this love story.
The night before I was leaving London, my friend who I was staying with received a message from Phil. He wanted to see me.
From that moment, I had feelings of confusion, excitement, nausea and happiness all happening at once.
When Phil arrived and got out of his car, I saw the teenage version of him but much taller.
We chatted about what we’ve been up to over the past two decades when he brought up the last letter he wrote to me in 1993.
I explained that I thought the girls put him up to it and didn’t take it seriously.
To my shock and awe, Phil confessed all the letters were written by him and he genuinely had feelings for me.
With this newfound information, I didn’t know how to respond except to smile.
When he dropped me off, I did my trademark wave and dash as a way to avoid an awkward goodbye.
The following day, I received a text from Phil:
“It was great to see you yesterday even though it was brief. I’m sorry if I was nervous but all my feelings from before came rushing through.”
It only took a 6 hour plane ride and 23 years to confirm Phil had always been interested in me.
I don’t know how this chapter will end. Maybe I’ll be whisked away to London by Phil and fulfill a childhood fantasy. Maybe I’ll meet and fall in love with someone in the same area code.
All I know is that Natasha Bedingfield sang it best…
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
*name has been changed to protect his identity