It was the exhilarating time when the clouds were billowing and gathering for the storm, the trees swayed in the eerie wind and the air was fresh and cool; just like the weather I was used to in England. It was such a relief after the Mexican dry season.
I twirled my platinum wedding ring, an heirloom from my grandmother’s era, around my finger and gave thanks for the gift that was Jago, who had come laughing into my life with the keys of warmth, openness and generosity to unlock my heart.
He did not just take from me like other boys I had known. He wanted to know all about me - my hopes and desires and thoughts. It was hard expressing my feelings for the first time but I knew that I needed to learn how to open up.
I met Jago when we were both nineteen working as volunteers in a citrus orchard. I had my first glimpse of him sitting at a table near to me having breakfast. He was speaking loudly and making his friends laugh. He had light brown hair, almond shaped eyes with thick eyelashes and his dark brown eyebrows met in the middle giving him an intense look. He was very slim with a nervous energy that had an electrifying effect on the people around him.
I got to speak him when we were shuttled to the citrus orchard the next day, in a flat trailer with wooden benches, pulled by a tractor with twenty other young people. A pick up truck had deposited a large crate at the end of each row of trees ready to be filled with the golden fruit. Each shouldering a canvas bag we went in pairs to pick the grapefruit. Wearing thick gloves to protect my hands from the thorny branches and dodging the irrigation pipe, I gradually filled my bag enjoying the sharp citrus perfume and singing as I stretched up to reach a very large grapefruit, tempting because it was hard to get and dropped it into the bag until the weight started pulling painfully on my shoulder.
It was hot. The earth was hard and compact from the long dry season. Holding onto my cotton hat to prevent it being knocked off by the densely packed low hanging branches, I walked to a crate, opened the canvas bag from the bottom and carefully let the grapefruits gently roll into it.
I noticed that the grapefruits the two Mexicans had deposited were unripe.
I called across to them.
“You’re grapefruits are too small!”
“Too smole? Oh, too smaal” Jago chuckled looking at me up and down taking in my long suntanned legs and curvy body.
“I didn't understand your English accent,” he explained. “So how do you know which kind to pick?”
“Look at the size of,” I hesitated, “the grapefruits I put in the crate,” I continued slowly and carefully.
At coffee break our group of twenty volunteers from France, England, Canada and Mexico gathered around the small fire, that was heating up a pan of water and ground coffee, Jago had the chance to ask me the usual questions. Where are you from? Why are you here?, whilst we drank the unfiltered piping hot coffee, careful not to drink the dregs at the bottom of the cups.
Over the next few weeks we spent more and more time together. Jago made me feel alive again. He reached out to me and it was as if he pulled out my innermost essence. And I let him because I knew I needed to come out of my shell. Usually if I was sad I would clam up and hide myself away. I had been an island in a sea of people who could make contact with each other. I did not know how to talk about my feelings.
“So your mum sent you away for a year because she couldn't handle your moods? Tell me more about it. Put some soul into it baby. It will make you feel better,” he told me. That made me smile. I answered all his questions shyly, expecting ridicule or a puzzled look because my views usually seemed so strange to others. He did not laugh at all; even when I sat in the corner of a field meditating or when I danced on my own to music in my room. We spent hours talking about our families, our ideas about religion and wondered about the state of the world and found we were on the same wavelength. We told each other ghost stories and held each other shaking and laughing having scared ourselves silly.
Together we built a house of dreams. We would have children and love them the way our parents had not loved us. And our dreams came true.
When the doctor told me that I was pregnant I was overjoyed that I had a new life in me. For the first time in my life I felt like a significant person. I would be a mother.
So on that stormy day I found myself in our house in Mexico waiting for my baby to be born; and that night I gave birth to a beautiful girl. I looked down in wonderment into her almost turquoise eyes and felt complete.