It is 2008. I am on msn chat. Jamie is telling me – typing in his bedroom – that he has gone round to see, and kissed-and-stuff, his ex. In my bedroom three minutes down the road, I see these words pop up on my screen, one sentence, one afterthought, at a time. I have short, dark hair. Chin-length, dyed.
I go to a friend’s house. We pretend to ourselves and to each other that we are working on a project together, instead of killing time and distracting me from what might otherwise be dealt more attention than it was worth. We are aiming for a swift upheaval from a silly game that I almost sat down to play for keeps. She dances around to songs that she ‘loved’, and I hated, at the top of her usual scale of animation and liveliness. I appreciate it, but am my usual subdued self. An observer. I feel like I am waiting for something.
Jamie calls me something like ten times. I ignore it. Eventually she answers, with my permission, and speaks to him patiently, telling him that I don’t want to talk to him. He sends a message that says he is pacing around thinking, and could I call him if I can? I don’t call. I stay the night at my friend’s house, probably the only time I ever do this during my uni life save for drunken laziness. I don’t have the same kind of friendships here that I did in the Forest. Here, it is about drink, or projects. Not mutual personal interests or shared experience.
A week later, I hear there was more than a kiss. I hear there was a lot more to the ex than I realised. Everything the ex had said to me in a horrendous chance encounter was probably, not true, but as good as true. I should have let that dog lie. I find myself laughing. The whole thing is ridiculous. I am above it. Another week later, I go to him. I proffer friendship and forgiveness. I will later know that this was too readily given.
We chat, we laugh, he is awkward, I am less so than before. I come out of my shell. We part ways, having known each other very briefly in this capacity, and I think,
“What good closure.”
He asks when he will see me next. Somehow, we are back on. I decide to let this roll. Go with the flow. It took him two years to persuade me to be with him, I might as well give it more than a paltry two weeks and one mistake.
Two weeks later, I am in the Forest. I am on msn chat. I have been taking photos of the big house and garden to show Jamie. Jamie types to me, hundreds of miles away, that he is stressed; I am stressful, this is too intense, he doesn’t want all this, he doesn’t want a relationship, he needs space. The same words are appearing on my screen again, but this time without the excuse of another girl.
Hours later, I am still on msn.
A friend fills the gaps and tells me about the other girl. This time, I take it to heart.
Like where I’m going with this one? Introduction and other posts in this series at the wayside.