When I was a student, Catherine worked in a clothing store that I visited quite frequently. Back then, she was a young woman in her twenties. A lovely woman I liked very much. Also a very pretty woman, with long blonde hair. Catherine was always nicely dressed. She was permanently in super high heels, despite being on her feet all day long in the shop. You could tell that she was aware of the effect she had on men, but she was never arrogant about it. She simply enjoyed it.
Sometimes, when I was in the store, she told me very entertaining stories about her love life. I remember once she shared a story about a famous musician she met at some fabulous party. The man had been very flirty with her all night and was clearly interested. Unfortunately for him, the feeling wasn’t mutual. Catherine turned the poor rock god down. I think she had some fun in the process. She was young and wild and free. A few years down the road, the clothing store closed down and I lost track of her and her romantic adventures.
When I first saw them together, I couldn’t help but think that ten years ago, this guy wouldn’t have been a leading man in one of Catherine’s stories
That is, until recently. Some ten years after our first meeting, I saw her again from a distance, walking in the street. Undoubtedly the same Catherine, only now no longer a girl, but a woman in her thirties. Not that different really, except without that elusive glow of youth. Her long blonde hair is gone, too. Now shoulder length, she no longer wears it flowy and free, but in a short, strict tail. The day I saw her, Catherine wasn’t alone. She was meeting a man. From what I could tell I’m guessing he’s in his thirties too. Rather tall and skinny, with slightly nerdy glasses and a slightly receding hairline. When I first saw them together, I couldn’t help but think that ten years ago, this guy wouldn’t have been a leading man in one of Catherine’s stories. Nothing about his beige trousers screams ‘stud’. And yet here they are, holding hands and looking at each other lovingly. So, I thought, is this the tale of a tragic woman, who, no longer very young, no longer holding the gaze of leather jacket rocking studs, is settling for what she can get? Did she miss the boat? Should she have been a bit less picky five years ago, when her hair was still long and not a single wrinkle was gracing her face?
Or is it something else? And yes, I think it is. I think it’s a slightly less tragic story. One of finding life in unexpected places. One of finally getting what she never found inside those leather jackets.