In this blog, I wish to introduce my delightful ‘Sam’ to you in preparation for a variety of odd and hilarious situations we have encountered together. We met via an online dating site years ago, we developed a surprising friendship and we have kept in touch intermittently ever since. Sam is not his real name, of course, but my acronym for ‘Self-effacing Antipodean Man’ and he is a son of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, otherwise known as New Zealand. He is currently engaged in his “Overseas Experience”, when natives of this land, known as ‘Kiwis’, embark upon a prolonged outward migration, only returning decades later to reproduce and prevent the islands from being entirely over-run by sheep.
Sam and I start corresponding in the virtual world and discover that our complementary features, which should be completely and mutually abhorrent, are a source of intense fascination. In his photographs, he appears fit: tall, rangy and attractive with sandy hair and grey eyes, in his twenties. I am his elder by almost 20 years; he is not perturbed in the slightest. After online banter and self-revelation, we move on to telephone calls full of mirth. His mumbled Kiwi accent, beautiful baritone voice, quick wise wit and unexpected throaty chuckles mesmerise me, even though on occasion, I am unable to fully comprehend precisely what he is saying. He is travelling through the United Kingdom for only a little while and has no time for any more than a brief love affair. I am incredibly attracted to his artless, stable candour, as well as that wonderful voice.
We finally meet very early on a sunny spring day, at the coach stop and it is apparent that Sam is indeed lean and athletic, earnestly handsome, with sandy hair and green eyes, wearing walking clothes. He is observing everything taking place around him in the curious, relaxed fashion of an experienced traveller. We smile, we exchange greetings, we hug, we purchase coffee and we chat as though we had known each other for years. Somehow, in person, I comprehend his accent perfectly. He is concise, calm and factual while I am effusive, emotional and prone to exaggeration. I love the enthusiastic way he constantly states, “Yiss, for sure!”. His eyes are kindly, a gentle blue and they crinkle at the corners; his smile is absolutely like a slow sunrise. We are powerless to stop touching each other, little brushes of fingers-pads on hands or arms and equally unable to desist from gazing into each other’s eyes.
We kiss briefly, an unutterably tender and sweet kiss. It is astounding how healthy Sam smells: I breathe in the scents of fresh mown grass, damp earth, sea salt, baking bread. I also notice how alert his body is, totally contained in experiencing the moment. He climbs into my vehicle without demur and I drive him home, cogitating upon how trusting he is, since for all he knows, I could be some serial dispatcher of unsuspecting backpackers. And that is how the wonder begins, as we discover how at ease, tactile, passionate and “sixy” we are with each other.
Years later, he is in his thirties and we are still friends and occasional lovers, when we are in between other relationships and in the same country. Now, you may have understood from the way his eyes change colour as does the sea, that Sam is an understated being with supernatural powers. He frequently engages in determined, unannounced, private competitions to break various world records in long-distance and extreme sports; often succeeding with quietly satisfied triumph, although he will deflect any excessive adulation, modestly stating: “It wiz ok.” Sam is an expert in low-key grumbling, yet he does not moan or complain excessively, he stoically “jist gits on wuth it”.
Knowing Sam has altered me for the better: I have learned about simply dealing with challenges as they present, without endless analysis and he has become more emotive in my presence. On the occasions that we do meet, we remain polar opposites flung into a magnetic storm of attraction. I have no expectations of this comforting friendship: it is merely what it is and one day it will end; yet I utterly adore Sam and he quite likes me too, although he is preoccupied with taking the globe in his manly, uncomplicated stride. Ever a master of understatement, he mumbles, “Gees, if I wuz based in the UK, who knows, could be quite ixcitin’.”