It was the most epic meet cute since Atomic Blonde’s;
“Don’t shoot I’ve got your shoe.”
where the male spy holds up Charlize Theron’s red killer heel.
And maybe I did look like Charlize Theron’s late eighties MI6 agent with impeccable sense of style. I am blonde and I was wearing a long white coat when I arrived at the station way after midnight. But I wasn’t thinking about national security or the price of a new pair of Jimmy Choo’s. I was pretty beat. It had been months since I had been out of town this late, and my stamina for traveling had suffered from three years of non-stop cat sitting, cat mothering, and definitely-have-to-be-home-to-sleep no brainers.
Summer 2014 both my cats got ill. The big one, Willem, kept me bound to home at four hour intervals, until he passed away a year later.
And eighteen months ago the remaining little cat Max got sick. I ve been able to stabilize him, thank God, but whenever I leave the house for longer than let’s say six hours, he vomits or get’s diarrhea. Or if he doesn’t do those things, he refuses to eat for at least half a day.
And the little fellow wakes me up at night, before he has to throw up. He just pokes me and meows, and then I have no idea what’s going on until he starts gagging, and I get the towel to protect the bed covers. It’s like he woke me saying:
“Mommy I don’t feel good.”
You don’t leave that alone.
So no, I haven’t had training in traveling for years. And every time I do go away it seems harder to stay grounded and calm and to find my way in foreign cities, where ever changing roadblocks seem to make it impossible to use a rental bike.
I took the bus this time.
But still, it had been a long night. And I longed for nothing more than to get home.
On the train I had made a quick note in my notebook slash diary-to-go. My mother calls it the dairy that anyone is allowed to find. Because it’s the one I take outside the house, and it only has everybody’s name there in code. If I lose it, no one gets their secrets out. Least of all me.
So in this diary I made a note. And although it was meaningful, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to use it for anything.
“Saw Benjamin. And MISSED HIM!”
How is that a story? Which one of my blogs, could possibly benefit from that crappy bit of information? First of all, most people didn’t even know who Benjamin was, despite me having published my collected works as “The Book of Benjamin”. It contains three Dutch books as well, so I chose a Dutch title. But it was the book of Benjamin for a reason; because he was the only consistent character in my entire work.
And although at a private level I had more or less made my peace with Benjamin not being a part of my life, I knew that for literary purposes, I had to go full in and name my collected works after its most desired object of affection; Benjamin.
To say that I was okay with him not being in my life, meant that I had accepted that I had to wait. Because I knew, KNEW, without any doubt, a hundred percent fucking sure as certain as fuck and my apologies for the swearing but this is an area where I can’t allow for any ambiguity;
I KNEW Benjamin would come to me.
I could feel it in my bones.
Him and me were not going to die not having seen each other since the nineties. And I knew it had to come from him taking the initiative. I couldn’t be me, because he had refused to see me in 2014 so he was the one in charge of timing. He had written me an email, supposedly to finalize things, but I had picked up a different message.
Energetically, the message didn’t say; “No.”
It said; “Not now.”
And much of the challenge, or life changing project that I m embarking on under the name of “Reboot” (from love goddess to warrior woman) has to do with this realization that one day I will see Benjamin. During my affair with Mister Big my body has grown to Goddess size, as I felt that the only thing that was required of me – and in fact the only thing I longed for – was to surrender to him completely.
I had surrendered to his terms when I knew I would be a secret mistress. And I had surrendered for pleasure whenever we had sex. No wonder that after three years I had lost all definition.
But that was not the way I was going to face Benjamin.
He had known me when I was fifteen kilos lighter, all muscle, and although my attitude had been feisty and assertive, on the inside I had been eaten away by fears. The same fears that had prohibited me from giving into him. The same fears even that 25 years later had almost kept me from getting involved with Big. Almost. Because I caught that in time, and did the inner work nessecary in order to follow my heart.
So I had not just grown on the outside, being all curvy, but I had become a more emotionally resilient woman along the way. I was bigger and sturdier in all areas. Now I wanted to keep the mental benefits, and get my old body back.
Which was proving to be quite dramatic.
The week before my meet cute with Benjamin, I had been an emotional wreck. Crying a lot. Sleeping a lot. Old insecurities had come back to haunt me, multiplied, and I had felt further than ever from being a warrior woman. Now I was not just physically soft but mentally unstable as well. I even had my first fight with Mister Big in over two years, as if my desire for a strongly defined body, immediately back lashed into a power struggle. Something that I hated, especially now that I was at my lowest.
I knew that whenever you want a change in your life, and the bigger this change the stronger this will be true, everything will change. And all relationships, from business arrangements to love affairs, will change with it. Change is an incredibly messy and unpredictable process, which is why you only get what you were set out to do, if you go all in. As soon as you go half in, you will stop at the first signs of resistance. You need to want to have that thing, more than you have anything else in your life. And with everything that comes up, and every sacrifice that you unexpectedly have to make, you have to ask yourself:
“What do I want more? This or “the thing”?”
Because there is no way around it. You can be sure that all the hiccups are a sign that this is an area in your life, that is affected by your desire for change. You can’t keep that the same, and expect to keep making progress.
And the most ironic thing of all, is that the bigger the mess you’re in, the more certain you can be that you’re on the right track. That change is happening, and that your dream is manifesting.
It’s just that having a crappy week and feeling shit about your relationship, feels more like a dead end street than a high way to looking fabulous. But I knew there was no other way. For now all I could do was sit with it.
But I wasn’t in the best of spirits.
In fact, on my way there – I was going to a concert – I even gave myself permission to leave within half an hour. I would go in, say hi to all the people that expected to see me there, and who I would love to see and talk to don’t get me wrong! But after 25 minutes I would excuse myself, say I was feeling sick (which was true, I did got sick on the train ride) and leave.
I called it “doing an Obama” after Barack Obama visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in a ravishing twenty minutes. I would do an Obama; smile, make entertaining conversation, and give my full attention and appreciation.
And then leave.
But that was before I saw him. Because a few hours after delivering my debut novel Mango, and the Book of Benjamin, to a local retailer, I had the biggest deja vu in the history of deja vus.
I saw Benjamin.
Not the real Benjamin, a forty-ish business man in a suite, with brown skin, a short black hair cut, and dashing Western facial features that would stun even the most spoiled model scout.
I saw a character that was even more familiar because I had personally breathed life into him! I saw Benjamin the way he had looked in 1991. With a jeans jacket, a T shirt, and long strong hair, in a low bun in his neck. His bun was nothing like the contemporary hipster hairdo.
This was a messy carefree bun that I had seen in my life only once, but that I had relived a thousand words and several chapters over; It was the exact same bun Benjamin had in my book.
He was there, my real life protagonist, at the concert. Exactly the way I described in my book.
I had never met real Benjamin at a concert but this one was. I was reliving my own book! I had manifested this man, being at this concert, I was sure of it.
But this was the concert I had intended to do my “25 minutes of Obama”, and then leave. Besides I had already written a whole book (Dutch American Diary) about me meeting a Benjamin lookalike. And then another one, LS Diary, where the lookalike was called Rafael.
I was done reliving my own history and making a fool of myself.
Or so I thought.
Because after an hour, I was still there. The group of friends I was able to hook up with, was much more fun and diverse than I had expected, and I was having a wonderful time. Next to that, the concert was about twice as good as anticipated. I had lost all desire to do “an Obama”. And there was something else.. The nagging feeling that me ignoring this Benjamin, at this concert, on the first day my books hit the stores, was a painful and stupid mistake and something I was going to regret for the rest of my life. But I had not seen “Benjamin” since the start of the concert. And I wouldn’t be able to find him before the concert had ended.
So I stayed.
After the concert, I said my goodbyes to several groups of people, and as I walked around trying to locate where everyone was, I expected to automatically see Benjamin as well. But he wasn’t there. I looked harder, inspecting not just the concert hall but also the bar and the smoking area, but nothing. He wasn’t there. My hesitant reaction in the first hour of me being there, which was about the time it took before I realized I wasn’t just staying for the music and my friends, that hour was now costing me. I had lost the time window God had given me, and now the ghost had vanished.
I left for my bus.
I half expected him to appear from the dark, running for the bus, but he didn’t. And then I let it go. I continued my journey. Bus. Train.
“Saw Benjamin. And MISSED HIM!”
That line, in my dispensable diary, would be all that would remain. And I would probably not even use it, not for any of my blogs. It was a crappy story line, finishing a crappy week, and for the time being that was just the way things were. I wasn’t Mister Big’s Love Goddess anymore, but I wasn’t a warrior woman either. And I didn’t feel Benjamin worthy anyway. Maybe it was a good thing this was how it had ended.
An hour later I left my train. It wasn’t particularly cold but I felt chilly none the less. I headed for my bike, and I wouldn’t have noticed him if had not been for someone who shouted out a name, and I unintentionally looked up to see who was greeting a friend, at this eerie square and ungodly hour of the day. The friend was a rangy brown man. He was ageless. He could be twenty or forty, you would have believed either. He raised his hand, said hi, and walked on.
It was Benjamin.
This time I did not hesitate, and I called him by his real name, that I had just learned.
A few wee minutes later we were smiling at each other, and I touched his hair.
“This is almost like a spiritual experience,” I said, after I had explained why I was so intrigued by him.
He accepted my business card, and he gave me hug before he left.
And I realized that whatever pain or discomfort I would have to go through, Reboot, my path from Love Goddess to Warrior Woman, also came with some surprises.
An Unexamined Life is not worth living
My Dutch novel Mango, about the other meet cute with real Benjamin (1991), is book of the month and temporarily available online for free.