It’s 6:11am in the morning and I have just said goodbye to Edouard.
“I don’t want it to be goodbye,” I say into his collar. “I want it to be see you later.”
He laughs quietly in my shoulder. “Yes of course Lizzie.”
I hung onto him tightly in the dark, trying to make time stand still so no moment would pass into the future. If I held strong enough, maybe this wouldn’t happen. Maybe I could just feel this embrace forever.
“See you, Lizzie.”
He gets into his car, his possessions packed in the back and I’m reminded of how it was the both of us stealing away in the early morning last year for Marseille. How it had been a fresh start for the both of us.
He opens the door to his car and we could and give each other one last kiss.
“I love you.” I try to smile, wanting it to be easier for him and stay upbeat. “Have a wonderful time!”
He smiles back and then finally…
I stare after the lights of his car in the dark, my chest suddenly wrenching open, my lungs unable to take in the air as smooth as they used to. Suddenly I’m breathing in jagged breaths, my spine clenching and unclenching as sobs wrack my body.
I try to keep them inside myself, not wanting to wake anyone up in the house, not wanting to startle the cat, but at the same time wanting to pour all of my anguish into one black river before me so I don’t have to feel it anymore.
I know Edouard’s mother is in the kitchen. I don’t want to stay outside too long in case she comes out and comforts me. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.
I walk into the house, finish making my cup of tea and turn to his mother.
“I think I will go for a little sleep,” I say in very broken French (I won’t even attempt to write it.)
Knowing that this may be the last time I see her as well (she goes to work very early) I pretend as though it isn’t and I’m simply going back to bed. But as I hug her, a small shuddering starts to wrack my ribs again as I try and hold in my tears.
She gives me a sad smile as I release her, pick up my tea and return to Edouard’s bedroom.
His red lamp covers the room in a cosy glow of safety. I could stay here forever. I imagine doing just that, waiting for him to come back. It wouldn’t be so bad. It was warm, the bed is comfortable and here I feel utterly safe.
But I catch my plane today and this may or ay not be the last time I am ever within these four walls. I want to leave something for him for when he comes back, some note or something for him to pick up and smile, remembering me. But I’m too exhausted, and as I look round, there are reminders of our life together everywhere. The necklace I made him. It had fallen off from around his neck in Guadeloupe at anchorage, just after our conversation about him needing to go home.
I was so scared that it was a sign, that upon seeing it within the depths, I dived down, lungs burning, arms reaching, straining to grab it from beneath the bed, feeling the excruciating pain explode in both my eardrums three metres from the bottom. I swam on, harder, faster and I finally grabbed it and swam up to the service, crying out to God, Jesus, Neptune and every other divinity I could think of as the agony throbbed inside my head.
There’s my ink drawing of Delos that I did for an episode of Brady’s when someone had attempted to steal their dingy. I had given it to Edouard on the day I knew he was leaving Ascension Island. We had said our goodbyes, and I had asked Brian to take me back on Maggie so I could give him the drawing with a note and a bottle of wine.
It must have sealed the deal because three weeks later he was asking me to live with him in Paris.
“I’m sure we have to do something together even if we are heading straight for disaster. Because in the worst case it will be a wonderful disaster.”
I don’t know about disaster, but it certainly has been wonderful.
I don’t know what will happen in the future. I can try, hope and orchestrate all I want. But I want it to be natural. If Edouard and I are meant for each other, I want our paths to come together because it’s something we both want in our lives.
I went to bed last night thinking about Papageno. It used to make me sad to think of all the work I must do, but for some reason, last night I was getting excited. Talking about her rig, boat storage, imagining coming back in the new year with a crew who had expertise in some areas, working on her and improving her as we travel to a different place over the course of a month maybe two. Short sails so I still get to return to Europe for a rest. Take crew for seasons so I can learn in segments, rather than taking it all at once and breaking after six months (which is what happened to me and Edouard.) I thought about painting her floor, finding mattresses, I thought about the offer I had from Precision Sails to have her sails made for her, wondering if I could have my logo. Thinking about design I did for Papageno and feeling that pride in her, to how I felt when it all crumbled around my ears.
But now, I was potentially giving her a second chance.
I started a Kickstarter last night, for £3000 to cover her mast/rigging expenses to give her a second chance at life. To give the go ahead to the workshop where her broken masts have been waiting for three weeks. I pulled the plug on all progress since I learned Edouard wasn’t coming back. I couldn’t bear the idea of continuing without him. Didn’t know how I could do it.
But it became apparent quickly, that maybe people wouldn’t love her as much as me. Maybe people wouldn’t see the same potential. Maybe they would only see the difficulties and not the opportunities. Maybe the wiring and the tyres as fenders (hey, they’re free, aren’t they?) would scare potential buyers off.
If I couldn’t get what she was worth, what if I just kept her? Completed the project? Maybe after a few months of Edouard and I being apart, I would feel better? Renewed?
So, the Kickstarter project came into being. I had nothing left to lose.
£600 for the masts.
£1500 to have the cable and fittings created.
£900 to cover installation and boat yard fees (complete estimate on my part.)
I created “Save Papageno!” and connected any pledge with a reward from my shop for the same value.
After saying my goodbyes to Edouard, I lay on his bed and checked my emails and casually logged into Kickstarter.
My plan was to return to Martinique, clean her up as best as I could and either anchor her up or leave her in the storage yard. I know in my heart I need to return to England as soon as possible. I’m completely empty and need a rest. But to have her masts repaired before returning would be a huge achievement. Her rig installed would be an even bigger one.
And if I only have enough for her masts and not for the entire rig, I could return to Blighty and save up the rest over December. I could return in January and give the workshop the go-ahead.
“Yes, please, I’ll have a new rig for Papageno, you beautiful beasts!”
After seeing an email from Kickstarter, I clicked on it and logged into my project account.
I found that overnight we had sold £720 worth of stock from my shop to go towards Papageno’s repair.
And whilst I was trying to stifle the tears, it helped me wipe them from my cheeks.
Maybe the impossible was possible after all.
I looked around Edouard’s bedroom, feeling the safety, love and warmth in the room. I had been given an opportunity to walk my own path. I had been given an opportunity to grow and strengthen, to make me a better person. A stronger person.
And if me and Edouard ever find each other again, I don’t want to be the little English girl trying to cry quietly in the dark.
I want to be all I can be. And I want that for him as well. Happiness. Strength. A sense of direction. Purpose. So, if the day comes where we started from “Level 0” as we’ve been calling it, we’re going to be the best we can be for each other.
I hope we find each other again.
“Even if we are heading straight for disaster. Because in the worst case it will be a wonderful disaster.”
Thank you, Edouard for your love.
You can find “Save Papageno” here. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/669098898/save-papageno?ref=creator_nav