I blame Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the whole sordid mess; the bit at the end where the male lead looks at Audrey Hepburn and declares “People do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” It was Breakfast at Tiffany’s that convinced me to make romantic love my urgent mission.
Hence, I’m sitting at my MacBook staring at ‘The Headwall’s’ profile and just quietly, I’m excited! According to his profile ‘The Headwall’ is tall (6 foot 4!), athletic and has blue eyes and blonde hair. He enjoys skiing and outdoor adventure activities and wants to meet the woman of his dreams. But best of all, he is American, residing in New York City – the exact place I would love to live!
‘The Headwall’ (real name Tom) is also a member of the global internet dating site I have decided to join and has sent me a note asking if I would like to converse. And after browsing through his profile and studying his photos I decide yes, this is definitely someone I would like to get to know. Admittedly, Tom isn’t what I would usually consider my ‘type’, but then I reason, it’s my ‘type’ that has led me here in the first place.
I was in my early thirties and Breakfast at Tiffany’s had really hit a nerve; I was a successful woman of the world, and yet seemingly incapable of carrying out a long term functional relationship. After one devastating break up and subsequent years of dead end first dates with what felt like the entire population of Sydney I was becoming increasingly disillusioned and wondered if I would ever find my ‘One’. Australia was fast becoming a nation of She Men and I just wasn’t prepared to be in a relationship with anyone who was hairless or spent more time shopping for clothes than me.
So I decided to do what any modern millennium woman would do; I jumped on the net and joined an international dating forum. The world was my oyster and I was determined to seek out my treasure.
Whoahhhhhhh! I found a gold mine of talent there! Suddenly there were all sorts of tall, educated and handsome Mark Darcy types wanting to converse and swap photos – I was addicted!
And it’s only a couple of weeks later when I receive the note from Tom who is a handsome New York Wall Street banker and, by co-incidence knows some of my Manhattan based friends.
I nearly fall off my chair when he emails through photos of himself clad in overalls and doing Man Stuff in his original home, the Alaskan wilderness – could this be my perfect man?
Before long Tom and I are emailing, swapping photos and talking on the phone. And then he does it – Tom suggests we meet for a date. In Paris! Under the Eiffel Tower! And I say “YES!” My friends and family are divided, half of them think it’s the most insane thing I have ever done and the other half encourage me to go for it. I am somewhere in the middle, fluctuating between hoping this will be the ‘One’ and looking forward to a new life in the States, and waking up in a cold sweat at night, wondering what I am doing. “If you jump into a fry pan,” warns my father “expect to get burnt.”
So two months later there I am, in Paris, waiting to meet my potential kindred spirit. The night before is hell. I pace the floor manically, affirming I am a calm and serene goddess. Deep down though, I fear we will meet and I am less attractive than what he was expecting, or less funny, or just … less.
The next day I wake at sunrise, decide to wear my favourite red and white’ flower power’ dress and strappy red heels then make my way over to la Tour Eiffel. I stand there waiting … and waiting… have I turned up on the right day? Has he seen me then decided to run away? Finally, after what feels like eternity there is a tap on my shoulder and I hear a deep American voice behind me. “Bonjour madame!” It is Tom! I spin around and… and… is it unfair to judge a person for wearing beige shorts?
And it isn’t just the colour of his shorts, he has them pulled up waaaay too high and his hair is parted on one side. And what’s worse, he somehow seems smaller and almost effeminate in real life, not the manly man who has captured my attention in all his photographs. I hate to say it but that essential ingredient, the ‘SHAZZAM!’ is missing. I know in an instant Tom isn’t my ‘One.’
I decide to break the news over dinner that night. “I don’t think this is going to work,” I stammer. But surprisingly Tom is non- plussed, tells me to give it more time, and remains in France so I can get to know him. Over the next seven days I am accompanied to a classical music concert and beautiful gourmet picnic in a park, whisked away for a countryside tour of the south of France and wined and dined in a grand old chateau. I am showered with gifts (such as a gorgeous silver handbag he has bought with him from Fifth Avenue) and treated to breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There is only one problem – still no ‘SHAZZAM!’
“Is he your Mark Darcy?” emails one of my friends excitedly “Well, he’s definitely a Mark Darcy,” I reply, “I just don’t think he’s mine…”
As I head off to Montreal, the next stage of my journey, I re-iterate I can’t see a romance happening between us. I am disappointed I can’t feel any passion when Tom has clearly done everything in his power to light the romantic flame. I also feel weighed down by a sense of obligation, feeling I should somehow agree to a romance because my date has made such a concerted effort. After lengthy debates about the subject of Love and my neutral heart, we finally agree to stay in touch as friends and I leave France feeling relieved.
But then, Tom unexpectedly takes time off work and drives all the way from New York to Montreal –so we can hang out as friends. After a relaxed day of sight seeing Tom then urges me to reconsider my decision before driving back home to New York. What the?
The next day I head off for some solo adventures further a field in Canada before making my way to the US. It is on my plane trip to New York when I come undone. I am sitting next to a distinguished Canadian businessman when suddenly I feel compelled to tell this complete stranger everything. He nods his head thoughtfully as I explain the blind date scenario under the Eiffel Tower, how I hoped Tom would be my ‘One’ and that my heart won’t co-operate. I confess my fear – if I can’t take the leap now, will I ever? “Perhaps I could grow to love him over time?“ I query. “Admit it Vanessa,” says my fellow passenger sagely, “It’s just not happening.” I nod my head glumly and decide to break the news to Tom as soon as I arrive in his hometown of Manhattan; the clean break is needed.
Oddly enough, Tom doesn’t listen. Once again he insists we can make it, if only I give things more time, then determinedly sets about courting me in the Big Apple. I feel I am stuck in a weird sort of ‘Ground Hog Day’ where I keep repeating my feelings only to remain unheard.
Tom then follows me to Vancouver, where I finally relent and reconsider my stance. Maybe this is right and I just don’t know it? Here is a tall, handsome, successful man – every girls dream. On my last day in Canada Tom hands over a note imploring me to consider a relationship. Unlike me, he is convinced my heart will grow to feel more passion and we can have a successful union if we try. He confesses how dedicated he is to this plight and promises to wait patiently while I make up my mind. I fly back to Sydney with a head full of conflicted thoughts. ‘How important is love anyway?’ I wonder. If you aren’t in it to start with, then you can’t fall out of it, right?
After a month of deliberating back home in Sydney I telephone Tom. “I’m not in love,” I say, professing I need to be in love to make a commitment. Tom immediately flies to Australia, begs me to ‘come to my senses’ then finally returns home to New York broken hearted and disillusioned. He leaves his job on Wall Street and travels the world for six months, and I feel like a monstrous guilt ridden cow.
My family express their unified amazement that I could attract (and date!) such a madman, then order me to stay away from the internet. After recovering from the humiliation and disappointment of yet another romantic car accident I come to the conclusion single life does indeed have a lot going for it. I throw in the Romance Towel. I go on strike from dating and announce to anyone who will listen that I am the love of my own life. Ha!
I decide the Breakfast at Tiffany’s sentiment is true – people do fall in love and people do belong together. It’s just you never know where they are and at what time they will find you.
Vanessa Waters is a writer. She lives by the beach in Sydney with her husband and daughter.
What’s your love story?