Thirty Six Days of Me – Day 02: Your first love, in great detail
Discussing my relationship with someone else, particularly a relationship that is ended, is particularly challenging for me, who has a tendency to remember and hang on to unhappy memories rather than the other sort. Discussing any person in particular tends to be a catalogue of their failings or my failings and what we did that was wrong and why we’re no longer in contact.
I don’t want to do that this time.
I was starting the second year of my undergraduate degree; he was a bartender in Planet Hollywood, Piccadilly Circus. We met at an Imperial College’s rock night and I persuaded him to come along to UCL’s rock night the very next week. Because I am clearly very shallow indeed, I have no reservations in confiding that what first attracted me was his looks; shoulder length dark brown hair in a ponytail, short goatee style facial hair, trenchcoat and jeans based personal style. On the androphile side of my sexuality, I have a type and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
At the time, I was suffering from PTSD. I’ve never been shy about discussing my history, and back then I was even more upfront and brutally honest to the point of social awkwardness, so I told him the second after our first kiss. That it didn’t put him off was already a good sign. We arranged a date, on which the conversation was awkward and self conscious between moments of geekish bonding over Red Dwarf, the Discworld novels and Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. We had in common a love for the SFF genres, nearly overlapping tastes in music (my tastes ran a little heavier, and that’s all) and a fondness for hanging out with friends and getting drunk. The Harry Potter books were still being written and Buffy was on season four on UK telly, and we enjoyed those together, as well as discovering new authors, series and nerderies. We read the Sword of Truth books, before realising just how rubbish they were and deciding we didn’t have to anymore; we watched Charlie’s Angels and I came out to him (and explained that no, this doesn’t mean I’m not monogamous) and I was introduced to the Final Fantasy games (VII and VIII), although I never completed either.
We fitted our relationship around our unconventional schedules; I was an earth science undergraduate with a medium-weight schedule, and president of the Rock and Metal society, and he was a bartender who lived in the suburbs – and at the time this felt like a onerous commute – so we sorted things out; spending about equal amounts of time at my place or his. This of course depended on where we were each living at any one time; in the three years I had three successive flats I called home and he two, of varying levels of pleasantry. As he often worked late and my flat was invariably closer (and always convenient for the night buses), he would come over to mine at two or three in the morning and I’d open the door at varying levels of sleepwalk-ness. On Thursdays, we had a routine down pact; I would without fail be clubbing with my best girly friends at High Voltage – the classic rock night at Metro on Oxford Street, and if he was working he’d swing by and meet me there. I used to spend a lot of time at the front door, which was the only place you could get fresh air, chatting with the bouncers and waiting for him between dancing my heart out. Coming from work, he’d often be wearing jeans and trainers; the kind of attire that they’d turn people away for, but given that a) everyone knew me, b) everyone knew him and c) he, like me, could be in blue jeans, white trainers and a football shirt and still be recognisable as a rocker (and he often was), it was never a problem.
The sex was great, and this is important to mention. Please remember that these three years were directly after being raped and the whole relationship was a healing process for me; he was patient, compassionate and understanding and I pretty much defined the pace… mostly. I don’t suppose there’s any getting around the fact that the whole thing was frequently defined as ‘Debi has issues with sex’, and I am not comfortable with that, but that’s part of the whole ‘why things went wrong’ part I don’t want to get into. What’s important is that before we met I was too scared to carry the rubbish around the side of my house after sunset, and he held my hand while I went from that total mess to being able to walk along a main road back from a club in the early hours of the morning without any worries. He was right next to me when I got the phonecall telling me the guy had been arrested. He came, with my parents, to the Crown Court building during the trial, waited with me and waited outside while I testified, because I didn’t want to tell the story in front of them. But he was there.
We fitted, for a while, but it wasn’t perfect, and despite how much I wanted it to be, it wasn’t a long term fit. For a few years, our lives lined up so the sections we were experiencing fitted together along that path, but we weren’t heading in the same direction and we disagreed on how we should make our current lives a better fit. From a purely individual perspective in hindsight, I wasn’t the best at inter- or intrapersonal understanding, and I was trying to force us both into boxes without any consideration as to how we’d fit, and without any consultation. The break up was terrible and melodramatic and incredibly hurtful for everyone, but in the end I think it boiled down to both of us expecting the other to follow a fixed script, and getting angry when that didn’t happen.
Thank goodness I don’t do that anymore!
…uh, I hope.
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