Today I write from the newly opened café in my small hometown. Across from where I sit are two couples with their young children and I am certain that I know them from my school days.
Any time I spend here feels like I how imagine coming out of a coma must: certain faces prompt a vague sense of recognition but to take it further, and be able to place them securely from memory, is a step too taxing. I know I know them but I don’t know from where.
There are people in this village who have grown up together and married the person they met in school. Every time I return here I hear yet another story like it.
I could have been one of them. For years I was in a relationship with someone I met in secondary school until I decided to emigrate. And what a difference it made to me. The relationship fell apart largely on the back of my realisation that if I could be tempted into a liaison in my new home then there must be hundreds of potential partners out there for each of us.
For the longest time I dismissed the idea of soulmates. There was nobody you were meant to be with and the more you travelled, the likelihood that you would meet any number of people you could feel yourself falling in love with would increase. It was all a choice, nothing divined. At some point you would just stop yourself and decide this person I will stay with because we make a good team, we get on and, crucially, I like them.
During the summer I spent a couple of weeks living in a tent on a hillside in Corsica with my boyfriend. In the evenings the gardener working on the campsite at the bottom of the hill would climb up to us and regale us with stories of the goings-on down below. One time we spoke about love.
I rolled out my old arguments, which hadn’t felt old until that point. I asked him if he really thought it was possible that people in the village where I had grown up had met “the one” without having to go anywhere or go through the pains of heartbreak or dating? Surely their horizons were just too small; they would have met someone else had they ventured outside the geographical box.
He answered that some people have to travel to meet their soulmate and some don’t; that life deliberately puts some souls together in that same village, that same town, because they are meant to meet and it isn’t suppose to difficult.
A part of the journey that I felt I had to take in my life was to leave this place and in leaving, I met my own soulmate. Like so many other times in my life, his belief made me wonder why I always consider my way of doing things to be the only one in existence.
I found his idea so touching that I copied his words into my diary that night once he’d left.
Now that I am back here in this village I feel they are especially pertinent, especially as I see these couples on the far side of this café.
I won’t scoff. Actually what I will do is smile at the idea that maybe life can be designed in a wonderous way for even the inhabitants of a tiny village like this one and at how following your heart, even if it means leaving your passport at home, leads us on the adventure that is meant for us.