I was nineteen years old when I met Andrew, the love of my life and the man of my dreams. He was everything I had ever imagined my soul-mate would be, tall, dark, handsome, exotic, and with a brilliantly wicked dark sense of humor.
We met in the upper deck bar where the staff and officers hung out as the M/S Scandinavian Sun made her way into the Miami harbor. Gambling is only permitted in international waters. When the casino closed at the international sea border a few miles from shore, the casino staff milled into the upper-deck bar.
I was working as cruise staff. I had just finished the passenger horse-racing, and was not on further duty that night. My friend, the chief purser, told me to come to the bar after work. There was somebody he wanted me to meet.
“Andrew Razak, I’d like you to meet Nicole Johnson, daughter of Captain Peter Johnson of the Scandinavian Sky.”
He had dark olive skin, black hair and ice-blue eyes. He looked Greek or Middle Eastern, but he spoke with a distinct northern English accent. He had a slight overbite and a soft lisp. He smiled only slightly, took a good proper look at me up and down then smiled widely and said, “Andrew Razak. Nice to meet you, Nicole Johnson.” He looked me over a second time. I almost melted right then and there, warm and fuzzy.
Good partnership needs synergy of attraction on three levels. This is my truth: my mind, my heart and my pussy all have to agree, or it is not going to happen.
It was many years before I understood that. At that time my eyes and my pussy ran the show. If he looked good, my pussy said yes, and it was a go.
My pussy knows if someone is a go within five minutes. It’s primal, pheromone-driven, intuitive, magical, and I have no control over her judgments. It is either a yes or no. A no means do not spend another second considering it, no matter how smart, funny, rich, or right he might otherwise be. Now, just because my pussy says yes does not mean it’s a good idea; she’s just the one with the lowest standard in my system.
Next up is my mind, my brain, who needs constant stimulation and is hardest to please.
And slowest to make the choice if someone is suitable, is my heart, and it has taken all forty-one years of life to learn to listen to her. Our story is one of the saddest stories I have heard and the saddest story I have lived.
With a goofy grin he told a story about insulting an elderly passenger, in that rude and ridiculously funny way that British people can endear, charm, and insult you all at the same time with quick witted wordplay and endless charisma. I was howling with laughter and completely smitten.
We spent the night together in my cabin. We all had cabinmates: two staff share one closet-sized cabin with two bunks and a tiny bathroom. Whoever moved in first got the top bunk. I had the top bunk. My cabinmate, Toni, was a sleepwalker.
Andrew had a bottom bunk. We debated which cabin to choose. The beds were all the same size, at about thirty inches wide or less, not exactly designed to accommodate two grown adults. The other option, of sleeping on the floor, posed other problems. One person would end up underneath the bottom bunk, while the cabin mate would have to tiptoe through body parts to get to their own bed.
We elected Andrew’s bottom bunk, the fall being too risky from mine. His cabinmate leered as we tried to settle in and snuggle, still dressed in shorts and T-shirts out of consideration for him. We kissed all night long, and dozed off in each other’s arms only momentary.
It took several days maybe even a week before we actually had sex, simply because of the circumstances of staff life on a cruise ship. But in that first week we spent every night snuggling, kissing and cuddling, and talking endlessly. We told each other our life stories and laughed and cried and talked and kissed some more.
During one of those first afternoon naps we fell asleep tightly wrapped around each other and when we woke up we had had the same dream. Not only was that a first for me, but it both scared and excited me. I decided that it had to be a sign of from the gods. This man had to be my soul mate: we were so in tune.
I was new to astrology, reincarnation, healing, spirituality in general. I was moved and impressed and completely without skills on how to interpret or deal with the overwhelming influx of feelings. I had a deep and inexplicable spiritual recognition of this man. I knew him inside out, and he me. He felt like a long-lost friend I had finally found again, after centuries of being lost. I think he actually had a girlfriend when we met, but she was dumped after that first night of snuggling, and sent on her way after the syncopated dreamI had a high school boyfriend lingering in the shadows in Denmark that I hadn’t really been able to let go, mostly because he loved me so much and it felt so secure. Andrew and I embarked on a rollercoaster of romance and love, and for me a spiritual awakening. I have often joked that I met God when I met Andrew–that’s how deeply distracting it was.
Do you ever recover from a love like that?
Twenty-two years after we met and twenty years after we broke up, I still ask myself.
I have finally come to terms with the fact that it is possible I may never love like that again in this life.