Wayside #2: Pete

It is 2008. A boy just older than me stands in my shared house university bedroom doorway, anticipation on his face that is hanging from two ropes; one strung from the intention of a mirthful jab-in-the-ribs, the other proffering encouragingly a quick exit from this god-awful awkwardness that he has created for himself.

“I’ll keep you my dirty little secret…” plays from his iPod, through my speakers, the sentiment behind this having just moments ago been a dirty little secret even more well-kept, in his own mind, alone, without me as his confidante. Oh, transience.

I age an amount in that moment similar to, I imagine, what James MacAvoy attempts to convey in the moment in Atonement when he discovers the bodies of several children. Innumerable thoughts pass through me. My face remains still. Pete leaves. He will not test such a homely joke with anyone else.

A few weeks later, we have not hung out anymore. There have been no fake coffees, no awkward Converse laces, no parting from crowds. We are independent of one another. I go to a rehearsal for a musical I have somehow ended up in. Pete is there, with the girlfriend he recently broke up with and told me was completely in the past, and they are wearing matching T-shirts. They went to a Justin Timberlake concert together, and now they are jumping up at each other again like puppies at fresh toilet roll.

A few more years of street wisdom creep up on me. People lie. People change their minds. I leave the dance I am practising with the other chorus girls, and stand in the toilets for a while. I go back to the rehearsal. Pete attempts a quick, silent reconciliation of loose ends. I deny it. I perform in the musical weeks later.

This is the truth, the whole truth, of this ending. Something very grown-up in a number of ways. Plenty was left unsaid, and everything was perfectly understood – exactly as it should have been. No false graces were imposed in hindsight, in expectation, or in revelry of this short exchange. We got over ourselves and got on with it before we even began. I am grateful of such an honest encounter, for all its flaws and questions.

A memento from my grown-up self

Like where I’m going with this one? Introduction and other posts in this series at the wayside.


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