Richard*. How do I even start with Richard? I suppose I could start with some facts of the situation with him. I was 24 years old, living abroad in Crete and I thought I had fallen in love for the first time.
In May 2014 I moved to Rethymnon, Crete for the summer. This would be my second summer working abroad as a holiday rep: not the ooh aah Malia type but the 5* resort type where I would wear a shirt and pencil skirt for work. Skip forward to about two months into my six month season and you’ll see me sitting at the bar in one of my favourite hot spots near my Greek apartment. I hear the accent of someone from England and instantly start a conversation with him about rugby. Small talk moved to some sharing of our crude sense of humours and we clicked. It’s like that moment you meet someone and just because they’re from the same place as you, or are wearing the same top, or they know someone who knows someone else who went to the same school as your distant cousin’s girlfriend… you’re instantly best friends. Well this was what happened with Patrick (sorry he’s not Richard but he’s important to the story I promise). Over the next couple of weeks I built a friendship with Patrick. One night he came into the same bar we had met where, again, I was sat at the bar with my fellow reps and housemates. Patrick wasn’t alone this time. With him were two young girls and a guy; Richard (there he is).
Richard was casual. He was kind of scruffy looking with dark hair and a thick beard; not a weird looking beard though. It was designer stubble but thicker. Anyway he was gorgeous and completely out of my league (although he’d be pissed at me saying that). Patrick spotted me at the bar and came over to say a quick hello while his companions sat down. Before I could think my mouth opened and tumbled out the words “wow your friend is hot. I’d lick all sorts of things off him”. Good one. Luckily Patrick has the same sense of humour as me and just laughed that off. Later that night he brought over Richard and introduced us. That was it. My guard was still sky high but something inside told me Richard would be special. I didn’t know how or why but I just knew. Now I know what you’re thinking, LAME and don’t worry because I think it too, but it felt true at the time.
Over the next few weeks Richard and I spent a lot of time together. He had lived in Australia for a year before travelling back through Thailand and stopping off in Crete to visit his best friend Patrick. From Crete his plan was to return to Australia for a second year. Well done me. Trust me to meet the guy who just doesn’t want to go back to England. Anyway, Richard extended his ticket to stay in Crete so we had more time together. He practically moved into my little apartment at one point and for the first time in my life I felt like I had met someone who believed I was worth more than I’d previously thought.
Richard would make comments about wanting people to see us together. He made me feel like he was proud to be seen with me. I’d never had that before. Guys previously had made me feel like they were ashamed to be seen with me: Richard was different. Everything between us was honest, open and, well just amazing! Yeah yeah I know, healthy relationships still have arguments and it isn’t all roses 24/7. It wasn’t, trust me. Richard’s friend Emily came to visit for a week and was staying with him. I didn’t mind at all because I trusted him and she was just his friend. Well on her first night Emily decided to tell Richard that she really fancied him and didn’t want him to see me while she was visiting. Excellent. That’s fine, I understand and I still trusted him. He was protecting her feelings and my feelings had never been protected before so I was used to them being overlooked. During her time Emily one night climbed into Richard’s bed with him. Another night we were all in a bar together and she was touching him and playing with his hair. Hold on a minute because I just need to get this straight. So I’m not allowed to spend alone time with the guy I’m seeing or touch him in front of her but she is allowed to in front of me? Seems legitimate. Richard was completely oblivious while I just drowned my sorrows in tequila slammers (tip: tequila does not help). Anyway, we got through that and came out the other side.
With one week to go until Richard was due to leave and fly back to the UK before going back to Australia, we spent as much time together as possible! The end was coming too quickly and we both knew it. My guard had come down quickly and over the few months Richard was there I was trying my best to fight my feelings for him. It was temporary. He was leaving and besides, surely he doesn’t feel the same way about me. On one of Richard’s last nights a few of us went out for some drinks and I was messaging a few of my best friends from home (I’d worked with them the summer season before). I’d talked about Richard and one of them wrote that I was in love. Love? Surely not. I replied saying I didn’t think it was love but I did like him a lot. At this point I realised that a tipsy Richard was looking over my shoulder and he uttered the words (well close enough) I had begun to believe I’d never hear from a man to me…. “you must be in love because I know I am”. With him that was probably as close as I’d get to an ‘I love you’ and I was alright with that. My heart swelled and stayed that way for the last few days.
When the day came to say goodbye I’d organised for Richard to travel to the airport with me on my airport transfer shift for work. He sat at the front with me and we talked and laughed and basically did everything to distract ourselves from what was coming. When we got to the airport, I did my work and then had a few minutes to find Richard and say goodbye. Jesus, I can tell you now it was like something out of a film! We hugged, kissed and said goodbye. Of course I teared up a little but I’m a girl so I’m allowed! I turned and walked away to continue working. As soon as I walked over to my colleagues I just cried. What if I never found anything like that with anyone else? Had I just let my chance of happiness walk away from me (well fly away)? I had to work. I wiped my eyes and started my duties pointing new arrivals to their transfer coaches. While directing a family I spotted someone walking towards me and turned to see Richard smiling at me. Without any hesitation or care he strode up to me and said “well I couldn’t leave without kissing you one last time” and took me into his arms and kissed me. Alright I’m sorry but it had to get mushy. Unfortunately this story has no Friends ending where Rachel got off the plane to be with Ross. Richard got on his plane and he did leave.
We continued talking and luckily he was still in England when I returned from my season so I went to Leeds to visit him. This time it really would be our final goodbye. I spent the weekend with him and met his parents who were lovely! They welcomed me into their home and said I could visit any time. Richard took me for a walk and for dinner. We were us again. With Richard I was beautiful and my insecurities began to melt away. He made me feel like nothing I’d ever felt before. I could be completely me and I could let my guard down without the cynicism or apprehension I normally felt. As we know because I still have many more stories, Richard and I had to say our farewells again. It was just as emotional as our first goodbye but had to be done.
That was it. I haven’t seen Richard since. We had a very near miss at the airport when he was between countries but we still talk. As with most of my stories, there aren’t any great happy endings. Richard and I had a conversation where he admitted that maybe he didn’t love me. He said what he thought I wanted to hear at the time. Who knows really. Did I love him? I think so. I’ve never felt that way about anyone before. He doesn’t have plans to come back to England any time soon and so I attempted to get back in the dating game to try and distract my thoughts from my near miss with love. What I did learn from my time with Richard is that I deserve so much more than I have let myself get in the past and that I can have it! I just have to keep looking to find it. I also learned that unfortunately I think it will be very difficult to get over or move past Richard. Watch this space…