It is late in the afternoon and I am sitting on the front verandah of the summer beach house I have been sharing with some friends, sipping on a hot coffee, trying to calm my nerves before I have to face Jimmy again tonight. With red fingernails tapping idly on the coffee cup, I am trying think of some way to say goodbye to him. I am tired of being Juliet; from now on I want to make sense of my mixed up life rather than losing my heart and identity over some guy.
Next week I am returning to university and leaving behind the summer and surf of my little piece of paradise. I could feel this wild life closing in on me for a while, but I knew I was just really delaying have to face reality. Now I am determined to find my own way and not be the second prize for anybody. I didn’t want a life that was empty of meaning other than how much you could drink on Friday night, and I knew Jimmy wasn’t my chosen one. He was too aimless and drifted through life from year to year, finding jobs when he could but often being the worse for wear after a night out. I didn’t need to be tied to a guy like that when my open mind wanted to find out what really happens when a dream is set free.
Gazing out over the blue ocean, I keep thinking about all those times I have left my heart behind with a kiss, returning to the time when I first met Jimmy. He was a wild one, not the type of guy I usually dated, but perfect for a crazy summer fling. He had a way of making me feel good, lifting me up with his way out exuberance and thirst for living life as if there was no time to delay for even a moment.
We met at a pub on New Year’s Eve when one of my friends introduced us to this bunch of guys she knew. I danced with Jimmy to the music from one of the local bands playing that night, before we ended up in the car park talking about how he had recently broken up with his girlfriend. I gave him a shoulder to cry on, until we kissed under the midnight fireworks and later ended up in bed. In the end we used each other’s shoulders while all around the world was in chaos. He used to say that he had travelled all over the world but came home because Aussie girls were sweeter, and I was the sweetest of all as he lay next to me sharing his soul. I never thought about tomorrow, just living for the moment of being turned on and free.
From that moment on there was a wild party every weekend, with flat out rock and roll each night until the pubs closed. Then the evening would change down a gear, becoming a bluesy ballad with a saxophone playing soulfully as we moved onto the beach where the mood was more romantic, or sultry depending on the night, and lovers would pair off, clinging to each other around the campfire until sparks flew high into the starry sky. Some nights we watched the storms out to sea, thunder and lightning showing glimpses of tangled arms and legs in the sand.
That is when I got a rare glimpse of Jimmy’s softer side, tender and considerate with low words that he usually kept well hidden under his wild exterior. Our conversations were never very deep and meaningful as it was more a relationship of passion and the search for a good time. I loved Jimmy but never really fell for him, if that makes any sense. He promised to call me all the time, but I knew he never would because he wasn’t that kind of guy. He usually just turned up in the evening ready to party and expected me to take off with him, which I always did. Nobody was going to tie him down, which suited me just fine because I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship at the time either. The way Jimmy set the world on fire made him perfect company for that one wild summer.
As the sun rose over the waves, we would walk home along the beach past the surfers getting ready for their morning swim, hand in hand as the waves licked around my ankles, before heading to my own bed to sleep through the morning, closing the curtains to block out the sunlight and nurse any remaining hangover.
In the afternoons I would walk back across the road to the beach for a swim, washing away my sins from the night before and then baking my body in the sun as I read a book or worked on my stories. Sometimes I would just sit and stare across thousands of miles of ocean and let my mind wander aimlessly.
So why was I worried about breaking it off with him? He knew I was heading back to university soon. Everything had seemed so clear until last night at dinner, over a glass of red wine when he gave me that wonderful smile I had watched so many times, and asked me to marry him. Now I have to find a way to say no, to explain that I can’t, and breathe a last goodbye before the summer breeze turns into chilly autumn winds.