Michael Harding: Memories of the women I lost and that kiss on a sofa in Ennis

Meeting years later, we were older and in less danger of setting each other on fire

My friend had travelled the world; I had remained in Ireland, clinging to the rivers, lakes and hills of my childhood, writing sad memoirs and never wandering very far from home. Photograph: Brian Farrell.

My friend had travelled the world; I had remained in Ireland, clinging to the rivers, lakes and hills of my childhood, writing sad memoirs and never wandering very far from home. Photograph: Brian Farrell.

 I suppose you can’t marry everyone you like, so the older I get the more memories I gather of women I lost, or to be more accurate, women who let me go. Or to be completely truthful – women who escaped. Women who took one look at me and said: “I wouldn’t touch that ejit with a barge pole!” And I often remember women who opted for someone else; dear friends that I longed for and never quite succeeded in bringing into a close embrace. I suppose love is always a feeling of incompleteness.

I hovered over one particular woman many years ago, as we kissed lightly on her sofa in Ennis; a portion of time that ever afterwards replayed in such slow motion that I thought it was an eternity. And the kiss may have told her we were unsuited, because instantly she left the sofa, made tea, handed me a mug and vanished out of my life forever. In fact, she emigrated to America. 

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