I’m considering showing this to S. I promised myself I would keep it from him, but doubts are starting to creep in. I’ve been very select in what I’ve told him about myself so far, and while I suspect he knows more about me than he lets on, I’m not entirely sure I want him to know all the details. Still, I’d like to see if he still thinks so highly of me when I’m stripped emotionally bare and I’d like to be able to speak to him about my past if he still accepted me. I’m wary of allowing myself to be so vulnerable, though.
Yet again, the weekend was wonderful. When I met S, I certainly didn’t visualise us spending entire weekends in bed, eating cereal from the box, playing each other our favourite songs on Youtube, walking around Tesco together with a trolley. I didn’t see us throwing ice cubes at each other in the kitchen, cuddling under the stars in the garden, surrounded by cigarette smoke and me fitting perfectly under his chin. In fact, all I knew of him was from his posts online.
Meeting someone on the internet is a strange experience. I’ve met two boyfriends though dating sites, two from a forum, and one 10-day stand on what was pretty much an easy shag site (he said love got in the way; I suspect love had little to do with it though… 10 days is hardly an affair). One boyfriend (A, from Blackpool) was an overweight egocentric sex addict. J was a dreadlocked, 6ft 8 mixed race goth with daddy issues. O, you know about – the ex-fiancé who promised me the world and left me for a thinner, younger version of myself and promptly got her pregnant while still sleeping with me and professing undying love to me. And then there’s S.
I met O and S on the same site. On a dating website, I suppose that’s not too rare, or too scandalous. However, falling in love with two people on the same very local forum is bound to drag up some guilty thoughts. For a while, I wondered if there was something wrong with me; if I was incapable of meeting someone in real life. Then I remembered the disastrous date with the narcissist guitarist, and The Boss’s continued infatuation with me.
Still, I can’t help but worry that an opinion has been formed of me. Any long-term member of that forum knows that O and I were an item, that we were engaged and utterly crazy about each other, and a few members know that something went on with another poster, but not what. Now, I’m with S, and sometimes I worry that it seems a bit, well… bike-ish. Y’know, like I’m the local leg-over. I probably shouldn’t care about the opinions of others, but I always will. It’s impossible not to.
When S and I met in real life, I was still firmly set on staying single. I was attracted to him, but I’m not so naive to think that feelings on the internet can be real. You can’t love someone you’ve never met. When he asked me to the pub, I saw it as nothing more than a friendly drink, a hand reaching out between two disillusioned people. The thought of it possibly being a date did cross my mind (we’d indulged in a bit of mild flirtation online) so I dressed accordingly (mini skirt, grey tights, black shirt and belt, plenty of eye liner and rock chick hair) and tried not to be too crass or open, but within half an hour of him plonking himself down opposite me with a pint and a pack of rolling tobacco, I have to admit I was slightly hooked.
I feel like an old romantic (or a dirty old lady) but I couldn’t stop smiling when he looked at me; which was a lot. I don’t often meet men who manage to keep a lot of eye contact without seeming creepy or a bit backwards, but S managed to keep me looking into his eyes the whole time. It was odd, suddenly having male attention focused solely on me; J paid me very little attention, especially in public, and I’d been all but blind to anyone else looking at me since we split. We drank, we smoked, we talked about Johnny Marr and Blur and how much we hate everything. We swapped bitter stories and discussed books. Each time we stumbled outside for a cigarette (we estimated we drank 12 pints each that night), we stood a little closer. It was almost unconscious; it had been so long since I felt comfortable talking to a man, I didn’t even realise it was happening.
Watching him walk to the bar, I realised that while I may be happy being single, I wasn’t entirely averse to letting someone in if the timing was right. Perhaps it was the alcohol, but I started thinking that I could really, really like S. In many ways he was a closed book, but when he talked about something he liked, the passion for his subject completely changed him. I recognised that passion; the one I used to have for writing, for learning.
We went our separate ways at midnight. As we waited for taxis, we stood together, close enough for our arms to touch. As S stubbed his cigarette out, he leaned against the pub wall and smiled drunkenly at me.
“I’ve had a really good night. You’re fun”
We stayed smiling stupidly at each other for a few seconds, during which time a little voice popped into my head, saying “g’wan, kiss him”. To this day, I’m not sure why I didn’t; I tell myself it’s because I didn’t want to look like an idiot if he shoved me away and screamed, but I’ve never been too bothered about that where men are concerned – I just do it anyway, and sod the consequences. I think I just didn’t want to do anything to change that moment. Plus, I was pretty drunk and in danger of falling into him or being sick. When the taxis came, I panicked, gave a little wave, said “bye!” and jumped into the cab. My mind didn’t know what to make of the situation, and I bailed before he could even say goodbye properly. In the taxi, I kicked myself repeatedly, convinced I’d acted like a twat in front of him and put him off.
The second time we met, I was at a loose end. My mother had been winding me up all day and I was in a rare socialising mood, yet nobody wanted to see me. We’d already planned to meet the following weekend to visit an old mill, so I’d been reassured that I hadn’t put him off me by acting strangely. We were chatting through PM’s on the forum, and I was bemoaning the lack of alcohol in my life. He mentioned that he had some beer and nobody to drink it with. I was alone in my bedroom, he was alone in staff accommodation. Naturally, it was decided that my dilemma could be solved by getting a taxi to the hospital, where we’d sit and drink in his room.
I got there at 9pm, and left the next night.
His room was small;very small, with a single bed against the wall, a sink containing a beer can near the door, a big drawing desk with his computer on and a huge television squashed onto a chest of drawers. There were post-it notes on the walls near his desk, with diagrams and scribbles on. The floor was covered in boxes (he was moving out the next day) and computing and science books were stacked haphazardly on a shelf. I decided the bed was the best seat – it seemed a bit cosy plonking myself at his desk, and there was only one chair. He handed me a can of Guinness, told me smoking wasn’t allowed (obviously) but hanging out of the window solved that little problem, and sat on his computer chair. We talked about everything: music, the language in A Clockwork Orange, PC games, experiences with drugs, depression. Taking it in turns to sit on the window ledge to smoke, we kept drinking and kept talking, long past midnight. By 1am, he’d joined me on the bed; he’d finished smoking, and instead of climbing over me like he had been, he sat down, not close enough to touch but close enough to feel his breath on the side of my face when he spoke. We talked about suicide; I drunkenly told him about the time I overdosed, he told me how he understood that feeling, how sometimes everything seems pointless. I joked about how I couldn’t even kill myself properly, and he looked up at me and said “I’m glad you didn’t.”
By 2am, we were listening to The Prodigy and still talking. 3am, and I began to realise that I perhaps wasn’t going home that night. By 6am, we were leaning against each other, occasionally speaking, mostly just sitting in silence. All the beer had been finished, the Guinness was gone, and we’d almost finished a bottle of red wine between us. We started out drinking from glasses; by now, we were passing the bottle back and forth, my head resting on his shoulder, our knees touching. Joking around would occasionally turn into play-fighting, with a few half-arsed punches on the arms and digs in the ribs. We found ourselves, in our pissed and tired state, poking each other in the belly and tickling each other. Around 7am, we were wrapped in each other’s arms on the bed, his head against mine, talking about everything and nothing. We lay together for hours, just holding each other. I can’t really remember what was going through my head, I just felt so peaceful and comfortable. I’d been there all night, we’d become horribly drunk, and he hadn’t made a move on me, other than to occasionally stroke my back as we cuddled. I’d never known a man who held me like that; not even O had spent a whole night alone with me and not tried to kiss or touch me.
We talked sleepily, turning our faces to each other, my arm around his chest, his around my shoulders. As the sun rose, we listened to the birds waking up and the sound of our breathing; he stroked my face, I stroked his hair. I commented on how fast his heartbeat was; he replied with “what do you expect?”. Finally, he kissed me. It wasn’t a short kiss, but it wasn’t a long, lingering one either. Just a comfortable, open-mouthed kiss. We fell asleep, back to back, our feet touching. Me being involved with the move the next day seemed to be a natural result of the night before. S made me a cup of tea (well, I showed him how to after he confessed he can’t make tea) and introduced me to his father when he turned up to help. When S was out of the room, his dad asked me how long we’d been together, and I stumbled out a reply about it being “very recent”. In truth, I didn’t know what was going on; one kiss does not a relationship make.
The afternoon was spent ferrying boxes to S’s new lodgings. The first time I stepped through the door, his landlord asked me if S and I were an item. I looked at him and said “I don’t have the faintest bloody clue, to be honest”.
My hair was messy and sweaty, I smelled faintly of booze, I’d used S’s toothbrush at his insistence but still had hangover mouth, so when S asked me if I’d like to go to the pub and meet a couple of his mates, I nearly said no. Still, I wasn’t going to pass up an offer of more time spent with him, so we walked there together. Halfway through the walk, S said his friends couldn’t make it, and offered to buy me some drinks to finish the night off. Seeing it written down now makes it seem a bit suspect, with hindsight… but at the time, I believed him about his friends not being able to come. We sat outside in the smoking area, drinking more pints, listening to the eclectic choices of whoever sorted the pub’s music and avoiding talking about the night before. After over an hour of idle chit-chat, I let my alcohol-fuelled brain take over and I said “when are we going to talk about it, then?”
“Talk about what?”
“You know what”
We bumbled our way through that conversation like a pair of idiots. Sentences were left unfinished, hints were given but neither of us seemed to want to admit anything concrete, we umm’d and ahh’d and giggled like children.
“You know what I want, so it’s up to you” he finally said.
“I don’t know what you want, though”.
“Really? You don’t know?”
“Well, duh” (or something as equally intelligent).
“I want to be with you. Y’know, like, be your boyfriend. Take you out. Spend time with you”.
I looked up. “Now that’s sorted, I’m going to the toilet”
As I stood, S grabbed my hand, put his arms around me and said “c’mere, first” and kissed me. I instantly forgot about the need to go to the loo. If the CCTV of us, snogging like teenagers (yes, snogging) in the smoking area ever got out, it’d be pretty shameful. We stumbled, we drunkenly missed each other’s mouths, we had to save each other from falling over more than once. We had a drunken fumble, right there in front of the camera, where anybody could walk out.
Four months later, I’m still baffled by what we have. Earlier on, he sent me a text.
“Hey you. Yeah, you. You there. Yeah. You. I love you.”
I suspect I’m a very lucky girl.