When I was 16, I had a best friend. A true BFF. We where as close as only 2 high school girls from dysfunctional families could be.
The story of how I met Arno is also the story of my friendship with Benita. His sister.
I recently read some of the letters she wrote me at this stage of our lives, and it was so cloyingly, sickeningly sweet and soppy. Kind of hard for me to see myself as that naïve, innocent, co-dependant, teenage being. I’ve built so many walls in my life since then, had so many shattering experiences, it feels like a different person.
I always knew Benita had a brother, but I had never met him. She and I were in school together since grade 1 to 3, Then again in High school. We only got close again in High school, by that time Arno had already left school, and went to the Air force for his compulsory Basic training.
I went home with Benita to do homework one day, when he walked in the door. I stood in the passage, looked up and saw this being, surrounded by light. It was like a physical shock to my heart and gut. I instantly turned red, could barely look at him, and could barely speak.
I was struck dumb, and felt myself turning a fiery hot red. Benita still asked me if I was okay, and I mumbled something about probably coming down with a fever. She said “Yes, you don’t look well”
I had to get out of there as soon as possible, just to be able to breathe. After that first meeting Arno was around a lot when I spent time with Benita. We talked from time to time, mostly about music. Whenever I could force myself to control my voice, not stumble on words and actually make sense.
This continued on for a while. He was in my dreams, he was in my fantasies, and I was completely consumed by him every waking and sleeping moment. I thought it was just another annoying crush, which I would eventually get over.
Things took a turn for the worst when Benita ran away from home to live with her Boyfriend and his parents. Like I said, we where both from pretty dysfunctional families, and she tried to escape hers. She got pregnant at 16, and her parents forced her to get married, which she did.
At that time her mother and Arno frequently phoned me. I later found out that his mother pushed Arno into staying in contact with me, as she was hoping I would be a source of information regarding Benita, who she had pushed away, and broke all contact with. Arno later told me that I was so shy, and scared all the time, he never felt completely comfortable around me.
We even went on 2 dates. One to see an Australian band and one to see a movie. In both instances I was way too self conscious and shy to in any way be able to converse with this Godlike creature, who I could not believe would have the slightest interest in me.
Well by the Time I was in my last year of school I think it just got too much for me. The constant intensity of my self consciousness was too overwhelming.
We stayed in contact over the phone, where I had no problem to talk to him at all, and this was it. Benita and I had had a falling out at that stage, as her mother was using me to get to her, and Benita felt very threatened by her mothers overbearing controlling manipulations and obsessions.
We parted ways, which was very painful to me, and I spent many nights on the phone with Arno, crying about this. Both of us being able to share our saddest emotions around this tragedy.
After school I left Cape Town and went to Film school in Pretoria. My 2 years in Technicon was the start of a very intense growing up experience, filled with Self destruction, meeting my Twin Flame, and getting to know the real me.
I broke all contact with everyone from the past. I was not this shy, self concious, blushing child anymore. I found false bravado, false self esteem, and false value in many things.
A lot of first steps where taken, and I found it painful to look back at that child I had been.
From time to time, when I was home for the holidays I would phone Arno and Benita’s parents and find out how things where going with them, but I had no more contact with either of them. This was how I found out about Arno getting married, his parents kicking him out of the house, and disowning him for it. This was just a part of the pattern that they’ve been following throughout the time I’ve known them.
On the flight back from the USA I listened to Lanee’s message more than once, on the walkman I specifically bought for that purpose.
I was a bit disappointed about the time frame change, and I was even more sceptical now than ever before. How in the world would I ever get together with a man I firstly could not come near in all the time I knew him? He was married, I knew they had a baby, he never showed any interest in me, beyond friendship.
Where would he be? Do I really want this? I just came out of a very nice little relationship which caused me great pain in the end, so do I really want to form a stronger attachment. If Rob was a pre-view of Arno, did I really want the real thing?
I landed in South Africa mid July 1998. My time was filled with reuniting with family and friends. I even ran into an old comrade from Technicon, who wasn’t even supposed to be in CT. I told him all about Lanee, what she said, Arno, and how I am struggling to not pick up the phone and phone his parents even.
Another friend from Tech, visited with me and we spent a day at the V&A Waterfront looking at crystals and stones, as Lanee had given me a list of Crystals and what they could be used for.
After that weekend I just couldn’t wait anymore. It had been a month. I was dying inside. I had resolved my issues with Rob, I spent time reuniting with family, and I was alone again. I was alone, bored, frustrated. I was living in a house with younger souls again, and the day to day friction was driving me to despair again.
I so badly needed to hold onto the magic, light and hope that Lanee was in my life I decided to phone Arno and Benita’s parents and just find out where everyone was. It would make me feel slightly better, and more resigned if I could let it go and find some way to at least know.
The moment his mom heard it was me, she told me. Her and Arno where at the V&A Waterfront that Saturday and they saw me. They where trying to remember my name. They didn’t call to me or anything, but Arno wanted to, but felt bad not being able to remember my name.
They’d been trying to figure it out ever since. She told me he had been divorced, and told me the whole terrible story behind it.
Arno was working close to where I lived, and she took my phone nr to give to him. (Oops did I give it to her)
His, now, ex wife had cheated on him, which he only found out after they where divorced, and the baby was most probably not his. That’s the short version.
I spent over an hour on the phone with his mom listening to the whole sordid tale though.
Eventually we rang off. I just sat there, overwhelmed, kind of excited, a little bit scared, and decided Lanee was wrong. I was supposed to find him. How else could he find me? He was free from the commitments I though prevented us from being together “in the right and proper way” according to Lanee.
I needed him. I did not want to be alone inside my head anymore. I had a taste of what things could be like. I did not want to go back to my old life of lonely self destruction. I was ready. And then the phone rang again. I was still sitting there. It was him.
Arno phoned me. He had been trying to get through to his mom’s line for the hour that I was talking to her. He had remembered my name and wanted to phone her to tell her. He got my number from her.
That was the beginning of our Romance. He visited me the next day. A month later we where a couple, and we where ready to commit.