There were three visitors to the apartment today but I saw none of them because I was out wrestling with wallpaper shops. My rampant autism makes it impossible for me to tell you the nitty-gritty because there's a timeline I want to stick to here. Suffice it to say that my day began early with a trip to my future home, followed by a marathon shopping expedition where women held up fabric expecting an opinion and I loitered around the power tools looking manly. I move a week on Wednesday and time, tide and fabric wait for no man, no matter how many power tools he's looking at.
Meanwhile, back to the flashback. If you recall, Sabina thought -- quite sensibly -- that asking Tatiana's husband if I could take his wife to the opera was a terrible idea.
Sabina had become my friend, cheese-making buddy, vegetable-growing guru and all round good egg. She helped me with fuel in the form of wood, coffee in the form of, well, coffee, and gained much amusement from my attempts to help her and her husband Igor get cows up a mountain in the spring. We would chat and walk the dog and all gather in the cow shed of an evening. She would often call me and demand my presence when she suspected I was dead. All in all, if I was going to tell anyone that I had a soft-spot for Tatiana, it was her.
Sabina had told me that they had taken over a B&B in the village for the summer. This meant that at last I knew where they could be found at any given moment.
This was the given moment and off I set.
He was serving coffee to a variety of tourists and looked like he'd rather be doing something else. We had met before and he regarded me as low on the serving order, so I waited for perhaps fifteen minutes before he came over and said he didn't have time to chat. With that, he was gone.
He isn't terribly loquacious at the best of times and triaged his conversation to the point of dismissal. I left, thinking that Sabina was probably correct and it was indeed a terrible idea.
And then, some two weeks later, I saw Tatiana in the local shop. We said hello and found ourselves checking out in tandem and I asked if I could accompany her home.
"Do you like opera?" I asked.
"Yes. Well, I went to a lot as a child. My parents were keen to introduce me to such things. Why?"
"Would your husband kill me if I took you to the opera?"
She laughed. "No, of course he wouldn't. He'd be glad it wasn't him who had to go. He's going paragliding for a month in October so when he gets back I think I'd deserve one night off."
We got to her house and said our farewells and I all but floated home. I had a mad idea of one wonderful evening at the opera with an incredible person and that incredible person had said yes. I could hardly believe it. I was struck at the time by her comment. He was going paragliding for a month and she deserved one night off. I didn't give it too much thought, but it did make me wonder.
To prove how amazed I was that she had said yes, I did nothing about it. Nothing at all. September turned into October, and before I knew it, it was Christmas.
In the dying days of that fateful 2015, Sabina rang my doorbell. She assumed I was coming for New Year but Igor suggested that she checked. I was going there again and that thought made me happy. I felt very honoured to be among a close group of Slovenians (Sabina is Swedish but you know what I mean) and this year would no doubt be the same as the last; Sabina and Igor and the kids, the two old twins and the fun collection of guys who helped around the farm. I was very much looking forward to it.
I bought wine and nibbles and on New Year's Eve, off I went to the old farmhouse for some traditional Slovenian cheer.
And the first person I saw when I entered the house was Tatiana's husband. She's here, I thought. Actually...here! This I did not expect.
I said hello to him and then she appeared in the hallway. That moment was how I imagined the opera to be. In the presence of someone very special.
"We still haven't been to the opera!" she said. He was standing with us so obviously she was right. He didn't mind the idea. "We must make a plan."
"Yes," I said. "We must."
And so began an evening that changed my life. I wrote about it at the time and you should read it (the Refreshment room at Milford Junction) because what I wrote didn't contain the things you need to know. I left them out for so many reasons. Now I can tell you and it's interesting to read an account of something so important yet so seemingly innocuous. Suffice it to say that everything that has happened in my life since then has flowed from that one New Year's Eve, from moving out of Bohinjska Bistrica to Bohinjska Bela, from wandering around South East Asia for five months, living where I live now and even going to visit my old landlord in Corfu. Everything. Even my lack of blog posts can be traced back to that night. I called it "The Refreshment Room at Milford Junction," but it could as easily be "It's a Wonderful Life," with George Bailey standing on the snowy bridge. There is a moment in everyone's life that shifts it in a completely different direction. I know exactly when it was for me: The very first second of the very first day of 2016, when all the bells rang and nothing would be the same again.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things