Saturday, 13 March 2010

How Do I Love Thee?

Little by little, friendships are beginning to be established in Sydney. They are still tenuous, like the delicate roots of new pot plants. Marcus has invited me to breakfast. By the time I stumble from bed, find the restaurant and slide into my seat, Marcus has been to the gym and already had a preliminary breakfast with another friend of his. He has an hour before his next appointment. I gather that Marcus is something of a high achiever.

This is Sydney and it’s another glorious blue-sky morning. Ninety per-cent of the tables are positioned on a terrace under sun umbrellas. Business must be scant when it rains.

“How are you?” he asks solicitously. That is just the wrong question. I burst into tears. I turn my head away in shame and flap at my face with a tissue. But the crying will not be suppressed. After a very long few minutes of sobbing in a crowded restaurant in the middle of a sunny Saturday morning I dare to turn back to face Marcus. He is gazing back at me with a look of clear, unsentimental compassion. It sets me off all over again. Marcus reaches across the table, wipes the scattered strands of mascara from my cheek with his thumb and then strokes my face with his palm until I am calm.

“Lily, you have to love yourself through this.” I look at him, “ But I don’t know how to. Everything I’ve done with the best of intentions has ended up being disastrous. I loved Nick and he has destroyed me. That is what my love does.”

“Do you agree that love is an action?” asks Marcus. I nod. “Then the answer is to do kind and loving things for yourself.” “Oh my God!” I say, “I’ve never looked at it like that.” Suddenly I am inspired. “What do I do? How do I start?”

“I want you to call me at eight a.m. every morning and tell me three loving actions that you are going to do for yourself today.”