filed away

He returned to the bedroom to find that she’d lit a few candles. She’d also opened the window, introducing fresh air and the sound of soft rain which had fallen relentlessly all day. Beneath the duvet he could see her bare shoulders.

Everything had been sexified while he was brushing his teeth. That was fine, nice, good. They were, after all, consenting adults only several months into a relationship.

But he couldn’t stop that whispering thought from nagging at him.

“You’re naked!” he exclaimed, pushing the thought aside. She giggled. He got in bed and they kissed. Still it nagged away. He took off his pair of garments and tried to forget it.  But couldn’t.

Things intensified and grew. Rain fell outside, pittering and pattering in gentle wave after gentle wave. He had heard that this stubborn weather front had come all the way from the tropics. The candles flickered. It seemed she was lost in him, in this moment.

He couldn’t let it go on like this. It really was very annoying.

“Neat filing at the top of the stairs”, he said, breaking away from a kiss.

“What?”

“That folder and those papers. Just dumped at the top of the stairs like that.”

“That’s what you’re thinking about? Really?”

“Just seems quite lazy to leave it there.”

She put her t-shirt back on.

“Sorry but I,” he said, unsure how to finish the sentence.

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ok not knowing

This morning I took a rare, indulgent browse of this blog and scanned some posts from around a year ago.

All had a dour, fairly miserable, nervous tone about Christmas.  The walking into a lamppost thing was unfortunate and painful but I wouldn’t disagree now with anything written then.

Comparing year ago me with today me reveals marked changes.  Most significant is the fact that I am no longer as lonely and frustrated about humans in the most general sense.  There is now a special person who I am extremely fond of.  Oh go on then, who I love.  And, to paraphrase a romantic musical, that does quite considerably change stuff.

This year Christmas won’t be the same as last, because I’ll be with somebody.  Hopefully I shan’t be out drinking alone watching dour bottom of the table Premiership clashes or walking into lampposts.  Not that I can totally rule out those possibilities.

Indeed, the spirit of the loner remains and I doubt will ever leave.  I still regularly take solo trips to the cinema and walk alone with a camera for some distance.  I still hanker for a dog.  I still have many of the same professional frustrations, perhaps even more than a year ago.  I’m certainly in an even more uncertain professional place now, in that precarious blurry limbo between self-employment and unemployment, with little idea what the coming few months will hold.  I doubt I’m alone here.

But I’m also relaxed about everything; sporadically scared and fearful of the future, but a little more fatalistic.  Having a person who believes in you can help with that.

*

We took a cross-country roadtrip to visit her distant aunties this past weekend.  They are particularly close to her after she lost her mother several years ago, and her father a couple of years later.  The three sisters were very close.

It was a whirlwind weekend of different experiences, environments and people.  Much discussion, mostly about family and relationships.  A considerable amount about spirituality – it seems to me the need for such belief grows stronger with age.  Perhaps it gets harder with old age to admit that it might just be this life and no more.  I listened and smiled and learned the names of lots of dead people and disagreed with things in my head (anti-euthanasia, spirituality and reincarnation, three and a half thousand pounds on an operation for a dachshund).  I voiced nothing, remained polite, kept smiling.

After two days staying with one auntie we packed up.  Heading back west, we stopped to visit an old family friend at a chaotic but cosy house with large dogs and a deviant lingering cigarette scent throughout.  A 70 year old party girl had her 30ish year old affable goddaughter visiting, and our coincidental quartet worked agreeably well.  Two hours of weak champagne, bruschetta, tea, dogs and bawdy laughs, then we headed off again.

The final scene was a pretentious, dimly-lit ‘exclusive’ hotel where frantic James Bond scenes may have been filmed in the corridors.  There we met her mole-ish Scotland-based half-brother for discussions about their father’s estate.

It felt in turns like a film as we bickered loudly over SatNav directions and mock-fought at service stations, the glowing winter sun casting long shadows across car parks and motorways.  It struck me at one point like a specific film, 2009’s charming and funny Away We Go, where a young couple go on a north American road-trip looking for a place to live.

Though her employment seems more secure, my girlfriend is not particularly fixed to our current region; she’s open to the idea of exploring or moving away, however far.  Travel is particularly appealing at the moment but only a pipe dream.  I have little motivation to ‘work’ in the conventional sense of finding a regular office job – although that is exactly what I’m seeking out of pure obligation.

Finding each other in 2012 was enough.  Hopefully there will be more discoveries in 2013 and hopefully they will be equally pleasurable and not lampposts to the forehead.  Not knowing is kind of ok for now.

Fearsome female control freakery

I had my doubts about his girlfriend before: was she insecure in the relationship, horribly cold, a control freak, an attention seeker, merely a tiring ball-ache?  I was meeting up with him for the first time in about two months, a fast-talking young Scottish guy with bags of energy.  Our pre-Christmas relationship had fizzled as we realised professional, personal and social differences. 

Still, we did get on well and didn’t want to lose touch, so we decided to meet up later in the Thursday evening, after the leaders’ election debate, in the upstairs bar of a dimly lit, sofa-rich venue in Soho.

We’d only been there for about half hour when his phone buzzed, and he said the words in passing, before answering the phone.

“Laura’s coming, by the way..”

“Oh.”  My heart sank.  It was covertly agreed beforehand that this would be a boysy catch-up.  We’d enjoyed evenings before Christmas like this, where, freed from his girlfriend, we’d had several drinks and chatted to girls: had fun.  Despite being in a long term relationship, he clearly loved it (“all in the chase, man”): the attention and thrill of performance which he revelled in.  He explained where we were to her, then hung up.

“Yeah, sorry.  I didn’t know.  She’s been out with a mate from work so…”

She arrived a few minutes later, drunk and gabbling about cocktails, hijacking the evening for a time, consummately strangling the momentum of chat we’d built up.  I nodded, smiled, asked civil questions about work and her teaching course – she was clearly destined to become yet another female teacher who spoke excessively about her work.  It was starting already, I thought, listening, glazed over.  My friend had recoiled at the social invasion too, even though she was his girlfriend.  He became quickly tired, sullen, unresponsive and slumped in the sofa like he wanted it to swallow him.  I continued to make polite small talk with her, not much caring about the answers to my questions. 

She’d sat without a drink for a short time, saying she didn’t want one immediately because of those crazy strong cocktails.  When I rose to visit the bar, she gladly accepted my offer.

I returned, graciously deposited bottles of beer (“you’re very welcome”) and resumed chatting about business to my friend, marginalising his girlfriend.  I‘d bought the pain in the arse a drink; the least she could do was let us talk about what we wanted to talk about.  Hell, I’d be really charitable and not even mind if she wanted to join in. 

But predictably enough, she didn’t.  She sat there peripheral and vaguely sulky.  Neither of us made any attempt to change the conversation or integrate her and she didn’t try to become more involved, sitting there mute and drunk, swigging distractedly at her beer.

On finishing the bottle, she began pulling on her coat and looking pointedly at her boyfriend.  We’d only been there little over an hour in total.

“I’ve got to go, I have to be up for work in the morning,” she said.

“…” 

Chilly glances and icy looks were exchanged. 

“You going too then mate, or…?” I asked, my voice wavering, tension escalating deliciously.

“Er, ehmm..” he dithered, not knowing.

“If you want to see the lady home, that’s cool,” I said.  “We can call it a night.”

She saw he was more leaning towards staying there, letting her go.  Those cold eyes of hers returned.  She was used to getting her way, bending her malleable man.  That sort of thing terrifies me about females.

Still he said nothing assertive, either that he’d stay or go, exuded a confused ambivalent lethargy.

“Right.  Ok then!” she said, and walked out.

“You want to go after her?”

“Nah, she’ll be fine.”  He shrugged, as if he didn’t care.  “Want another one then?” he smiled, a lightbulb flicked back on.

He tried to persuade me that I would get on with her if I spent more time with her, if we went out on full nights together.  I wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince me or himself.  He’d said this once before, following the chip incident, and I’d blithely nodded in agreement.  Yeah, maybe.. (whatever, don’t care). 

When I mentioned potential wedding bells, he blibbled uncertainly like men do, but said that she had mentioned it.  “I’ve got an empire to build man!” he exclaimed.  I asked him if he wanted to though: marriage etc. if everything with her was all going well enough.  He shrugged. 

Given my expert form in relationships, I counselled, “If you love her, go for it, living together for two and a half years should have given you a good enough idea.  If you don’t, shit, you’re 25 years old mate.”  I left it at that, not needing to scream at him that he could be completely wasting his youth.  Because he’d actually use it too, wholeheartedly seize a young, single metropolitan life with everything he has.  Unlike me, who sits back, thinks too much, doesn’t so much go with the flow as build a dam, then effortlessly screws up.

He shrugged again, not wanting the conversation, so we moved it on elsewhere.