I want to share a story with you about an encounter that changed my perception of romantic relationships. My reason for sharing it is that I hope it could give the one person who might have given up on love or who might be thinking about settling, a little nudge to wait to be seen, wait to be heard. At my ripe age of 33, I guess I should be married and maybe should have 2.5 children with a strapping young husband. But life has not played out that way and I am so happy for my friends for whom it has. However, a chance encounter with a truly beautiful man has given me the silent confidence that as long as I continue living my truth, I will attract the right people & potentially meet a man who sees me for who I am and not for who he wishes me to be.
My heart was broken. Another long-term relationship had ended. And our planned life together slowly slipped away; the children, the catamaran we wished to sail around the world, the shared home, the warm embraces, the whirling around the dancefloor in love and ecstasy, slowly all dripped away with the tears rolling down my cheeks. Our ending had been hard, a mutual understanding that being in love was different from loving someone, but still, one person breaks a little more, one person takes a little longer.
Inevitably, that person is always me.
And so, I was away, with my (superwoman)Mum at KolKol, literally counting our lucky (shooting) stars and unwrapping all that had happened between a romantic holiday in Tuscany to a newly-single, romantic weekend with my mum, in the space “the royal we” were meant to be in (Cue the violins). It was a Thursday or Friday I think and we had spent the day relaxing to the max. I was busy washing up the dishes from a delicious breakfast when my phone started buzzing on the countertop. My mentor, my friend, my soul sister.
“Tash, I have just met the man you will marry.” She says to me with a smile in her voice. I chuckle, “Oh yeah?” “I told him about you, I showed him your profile on FB and he wants to meet you. I hope you don’t mind, but he is a man, a true man, and I gave him your number. He will call”. I chuckle, no one calls these days, I think. I let her carry on telling me all about this dreamboat, we laugh and end the call. My heart is too broken to…my thought are interrupted, the phone rings again, an unknown number…I answer…
“Tash, hi…” His voice was magic. It carried strength, confidence, and curiosity. We chatted easily as if I had known him for years. He sounded so sure of himself, so sure of wanting to get to know me. “Can I pick you up for lunch?” He asks. Another chuckle, we are an hour out of Cape Town in the middle of nowhere, lunch and the excitement of this moment will have to wait. Not for the first time do I wonder why teleporting is not yet possible. We chat a little longer and agree we will meet. He lives in Joburg but works from Cape Town often. The opportunity is there, both of us seem willing to take it.
From a broken heart to a belly filled with butterflies, I see my mum’s smiling eyes peer over her novel. She likes what she heard.
And so time rolls on and unfortunately, our paths in CT do not meet, so a month of getting to know each other over the phone happens. We even have one beautiful “first e-date night” (this is obviously preceding covid, so dates online, not quite a thing yet) complete with wine, a shared meal, and 3.5hrs of beautiful and deep conversation. I couldn’t believe the turn of events. From a broken heart to one quickly feeling petrified of the promise of what this could be.
He spoke to me on a level I have never been spoken to before. As a life coach and unbelievable public speaker, he knew how to communicate, and gosh, how I had craved that in my life. In a childhood where structured communication was revered, I was so confused about how to speak with people who didn’t understand these processes. I had no idea how abnormal my way of communication and listening was. And so, finally, I felt seen, I felt heard and I felt like I could step into myself in a way I had never done in a relationship, my guard came down and my words flowed with the comfort of knowing that this space was safe.
To take a moment to give some more context, since my breakup I had started working through my annual “Unravel You year” workbook. In this workbook, they ask you several very challenging questions, they ask you to tackle some intense characteristics of your year ahead and behind, and then finally, they ask you to settle on a word, a word that will anchor your year, that will guide you through and become a mantra. I had wrestled through some difficult questions, confronted head-on the limitations I had had in my previous relationship. I had dug deep to understand my shortcomings and was really praying to find a way to improve myself and deal with things better. And with all of that in mind, I found my word…it was FEARLESSNESS. This was anchored in the decision to approach life head-on, to unmask what I wanted out of life, where I saw my ROLE in my own story and to take the bull by the horns and make things happen for myself.
Enter “Magic Man” and instead of losing all these notions above, he supports them, he encourages them and he strengthens my resolve. He loves this fearless approach I want to take and relishes in me grabbing life back by the horns. So, on the day, 6 weeks after chatting on the phone at Kol-Kol, he calls me and says, “I have to meet you in person”, this connection is too raw, too real to ignore, my word is challenged. He gives me two options, a safe one and a more courageous one – He would like to take me out on a date, the safe option is he will fly down to Cape Town and take me out for dinner on a weekend in January, the courageous one, he has tickets to see Michael McIntyre in JHB on that same weekend that he bought a year ago, being an avid fan. FEARLESSLY, I agree to the second more daring option – flying to JHB to meet a man I had only ever spoken to on the phone for 1 night. Haha, this was very unusual for me, but the connection was too real to deny. And so, I fall asleep with a smile on my face, knowing something beautiful is about to unravel.
The next morning I wake up to the most beautifully crafted email, outlying exactly how the weekend will play out, it was hilarious, filled with self-deprecating humor, and then dealing so beautifully with the fact that he will put me up in my own guesthouse so that I do not have to concern myself with that awkward question. With the whole of the Saturday night laid out, he tells me Sunday is a surprise. I laughed my way through the email and my heart fluttered, this guy was something else, “Magic Man” was showing me something vastly different from anything I had had before.
And so a week later after more skype chats and leaning in on my girlfriends’ enthusiasm for this idea and fearless decision, I found myself a day before leaving for JHB. I had gone down to the village beautician to sort out waxing, eyebrows and all those sorts of things, I told her the story nervously and she was too excited, she ran across to the hairdresser and arranged me a sunrise hair appointment the next morning before I flew, the whole village was now behind me and my love story. She even treated me to a manicure and shared some of her own love stories. The group of woman that supported me through all of this was unreal. Women supporting women is truly beautiful.
I hardly slept that night, I was oscillating between excitement and moments of WTF am I doing? My heart was still sore from the recent break-up, but I also knew this was so rare. I played out every scenario – he is a serial killer, I am about to meet my husband, he is gonna bore me to tears, am I okay with living in JHB? That really was how active my brain was.
I woke up the next morning thinking what am I doing? Am I mad? I went to the hairdresser, retold her the story, showed him his picture, at 2metres tall and pretty dam gorgeous, it was hard for her not to be excited for me. She did a beautiful job of stylizing my locks and making me feel super fancy pants. I got into my car and drove to the airport. The nerves picking up. As soon as I got to the check-in desk, I started talking nervously, 1000 words a minute telling her the story. She took the moment to try to sell me a business-class upgrade. I laughed and refused, wheeling my carry bag to the boarding gates.
As I got to the gates, I saw our national sports teams at the gate, a good-looking group of fit men, of which I knew the captain, an old friend from an earlier version of myself. Once again, I couldn’t stop my mouth from flying through the story, begging me to tell me I was not a crazy fool for doing this impulsive trip. He smiled, put his hand on my shoulder, and told me it was brave and that Magic Man sounded kind. As I walked towards the gate, I saw him relaying the story to a few teammates and they cheered me off as I disappeared down the boarding tunnel. I had booked a front-row seat, so I didn’t have to wait to exit the plane.
As I got to my row of seats, there were two lovely ladies (I would have a guess 60+) on the aisle and middle seat. I maneuvered myself to the window seat and listened to them sharing each other’s life stories. They became slightly more interested in me when this national team walked down the aisle and as they came past me gave their “good lucks” to a now blushing me. Both ladies turned to me, it was time to spill. I can’t remember their names now, but one of them, let’s call her “Francesca” reminded me of my mum, she was unassuming, gentle, and dressed with comfort in mind. She had a soft and soothing voice and seemed kind and caring. “Deborah”, a well-dressed, confident woman, with a wonderful gift of the gab, matter-of-a-fact and refined. They asked me why I was going to Jo’burg and then, once again, with a glass of bubbles in all of our hands, I retold the story with visual aids! It was amazing, they were on my journey with me, they knew about the break-up, they knew how nervous I was and how wonderful this Magic Man sounded and felt to me. I laughed at how invested they became in our love story.
As soon as the plane landed, Deborah jumped up, she had only hand luggage, she hated wasting time, she gave me some words of wisdom, waved a classy goodbye, and strutted with confidence to the exit. I turned to Fran (we were on nickname terms now) and said to her, “I am so nervous”, she held my shaking hand and we walked off the plane to go and get our hold luggage. Once we both had our bags, she kindly walked out with me. We could see him, standing like a beacon of strong, masculine, gentle hope with a huge grin on his face. She squeezed my hand and said, “he looks wonderful”. I walked straight up to him, my cheeks stretching to their smiling capacity and I gave him a hug, introduced Fran. She says to him, “she is wonderful, treat her well.” He surprises us, by saying, “Yes, I have heard, Deborah has just come out and told me how lucky I am and I need to play my cards right.” The ice is broken, we laugh, Fran leaves and he and I take the escalator up towards the car park….
…..PART 2….COMING SOON.
The Magic Man
A brief love story that changed my perception of what I needed and how I could be treated in love and in life.