Thursday, December 30, 2004

“…And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how a friendship is ruined by a relationship”

There’s only two times when you can ever become a ‘we’. One: the Royal we. Two: the most common of the two, if you’re in a relationship, but until then, you’re stuck as an ‘I’, and that’s single.

When you enter a relationship, ‘I’ automatically becomes a ‘we’ and ‘me’ automatically becomes an ‘us’.
‘Sorry, we can’t meet you for coffee.’
‘Us? We like having sex three times a day.’
‘Stop making fun of us!’
‘Is it ok if we meet up with you?’
‘Sorry, we’re not going anymore.’

It made me think: you share your thoughts and your body with the one you love, but do you really have to share your life?

“Doesn’t dating seem much easier than actual ‘tie-yourself-down’ relationships?” I discussed with Madeline as we travelled to Newcastle once.

“Yeah, I mean, there’s no hassle, no strict rules, no ‘oh my god, you didn’t call me?’ ” Madeline replied.

Madeline was right. There were no strict rules with dating. Why was dating not as popular? Why were so many people jumping straight into relationships without getting know their partner until they were fully committed in a relationship?

A few days passed and I arranged to meet Madeline in the city. We met at the monument and after wandering up Northumberland Street we met Joe and Joe’s mother, Darla.

“Noah, this is Joe’s mum, Darla. Darla this is Noah.” Madeline said.

“Hi, I’ve heard quite a lot about you.” She said. Maybe she was lying, I couldn’t tell.

“And it was all bad,” Madeline joked. I laughed.

Darla, Madeline and I followed Joe out of the shop. When we got out; Darla pulled a ‘Lambert and Butler’ cigarette out of her pocket and we walked back down Northumberland Street as she smoked it. We turned down a little street and stopped for a coffee at a small, underground cafĂ© that had a tanning salon in the back of it. I ordered mocha, Madeline ordered an iced-mocha and Darla ordered a cappuccino. We sat in the smoking area and Darla asked:“I hope you don’t have this dirty habit,” as she pulled another Lambert and Butler from the packet.

“He does when he wants to,” Madeline told Darla. Madeline talked to Darla as if she were a friend and not her ex-boyfriend’s mother. Madeline told me that she was meant to be meeting Darla today, alone, but Joe turned up with Darla.

I had a thought: Was it hard for Madeline to let go of Joe because she was so attached to Darla? Was it like she was really in a relationship with his mother instead of him?

Joe came and met us in the coffee shop and Madeline, Darla and Joe smoked their way through cigarettes while I drank my way through the mocha.

When we left the coffee shop, Joe got angry and went home so I stayed with Madeline and Darla as they looked at clothes and shoes. We were planning on going to a shopping centre near by but we decided not to. Darla and Madeline went home and I stayed in the city. Skye had said her and Aidan were coming over so we were going to go to Starbucks to catch up. I had a new text message on my phone.

“Yeah, we’re definitely coming, but how much longer are you spending there? We’re leaving in 10 minutes. We shouldn’t be long. Skye x”

Four text messages later, three of them saying they’d be another fifteen minutes, Skye finally cancelled: “Hi, I’m really sorry but we can’t come. I hope you can forgive me. Tell Madeline I say hello. Skye x.”

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how a friendship is ruined by a relationship. The ‘I have no time to see you’ turns to ‘We have no time to see you’ which hurts even more.

Is it time I gave up on Skye, just as Madeline has done? I’ve been thinking about it for a while but the sentimentality of our friendship means too much for me to make a decision without thinking about it more.

I got her message while I was ordering a ‘grande mocha’ from Starbucks. I changed the order so I could take it out because I got pissed off and wanted to go home.

“Hi, I just ordered the grande mocha to stay in with, is there anyway I can change that to take out now?”

“Yeah, your order hasn’t been made yet so I can change it for you.”

“Thank you.”

“It should be at the end of the counter soon.”

I took my mocha and rode the metro and bus home, alone.

Another thought: How many times can Skye shit on me like this? Ok, once, shame on her, twice, three times, four times, many more times, shame on me. It really was shame on me. I was sick of being shamed.

So, in a world where “we” over rules “I”, relationships really do destroy friendships.

"The Return of Nush - Fate?"

A self-obsessed, new generation teenager, that I’ll call Jennifer, threw a party, uncharacteristically on a Monday night. It was a celebration that we’d completed our final ‘Winter Term’, in our final year of school. It was also to make sure our ‘Secret Santa’s’ didn’t get away without giving out their presents to their chosen friends. I luckily pulled Skye out of the hat. I bought her the debut Gwen Stefani record. She seemed please, not that I was too bothered. I received the Green Day record, ‘American Idiot’, from Tanya; I was there when she bought it so there was no surprise to be surprised with.

The party was dull, Aidan and I walked to the convenience store over the road, I bought Pepsi. I wasn’t in the mood for alcohol. We wandered back to Jennifer’s house and it was decided we would all play ‘spin the bottle’. It was boring and we soon moved on to an even more boring game of ‘truth or dare?’ By this point I thought I was going to fall asleep, and by 10pm, I’d made plans to jump into Skye and Aidan’s taxi.

The following morning Jason waked me at 11am. He wouldn’t stop phoning so eventually I had to answer.

“Hi… are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. You woke me though.”

“Oh sorry,” I knew he didn’t mean it, “Anyway, I was wondering whether you, Madeline and Skye fancied doing something, um, not today, not tomorrow, not Wednesday or Thursday but Friday?”

“Um, I will, but I don’t think Skye can, Aidan and his family are taking her to a church to give presents to the homeless. Hey! Don’t laugh, I’m being serious.”

“Oh. I thought you were joking. What about Madeline? Do you think she will?”

“I’m not sure, maybe.”

“Okay, you phone Skye, just to check, and I’ll phone Madeline.”

“Right. Goodbye.” I hung up.

I told Madeline most of the details of the party, and Jason’s phone call, the next morning over the phone. She sounded glad that she wasn’t invited to these events and I was also informed Jason hadn’t phoned her. She told me she’d made a ‘mistake’ with Joe, once last night, and once this morning. She blamed it on the alcohol last night, thought she never made an excuse for this morning, not that I was expecting one. We made plans to do something and at 5pm, she knocked on my door and we stood at the bus stop. Like all the other times, a bus ride and metro ride later, we were standing in the line at Starbucks waiting for my ‘grande mocha’ and Madeline’s ‘tall mocha’. We stayed in Starbucks until closing time, which is a pretty early 6:30pm. While in Starbucks, Madeline told me about her dates with ‘Adam’ and Joe’s breakdown. Because of Joe’s breakdown, Madeline stopped dating ‘Adam’ because the guilt was too much for her to take.

“I phoned him last night,” she told me while sipping on her ‘tall mocha’ and looking around for any signs that indicate that she can’t smoke, “he pretended to be someone else. I suppose I deserve it for ignoring him for three weeks, but I needed to sort my own shit out.”

“What did he say?” I inquired.“He pretended to be someone called Alan from London. He’s from London anyway so he didn’t need to change his accent, but I knew it was him.”

I had a thought: was the only way to break up with someone pretending to be someone else until you get the hint?

She was pissed about it, although I would be too. A good job, a healthy wage, a “glamorous lifestyle”, as Madeline put it, and a BMW would be gone. “It’s more than what I had with Joe”

At 6:31pm we walked up to “The Gate”, an exclusive hot spot in the city, surrounded by clubs and bars, which is only three or four streets away from Starbucks. “The Gate” itself was made up of bars, restaurants and on the third, and final, floor, a cinema and “sky terrace”. Madeline and I made our way to the cinema and purchased our tickets for the 7:40pm showing of the movie, “Christmas with the Kranks”.

We waited, we waited even more and eventually, at 7:12pm, we got into the cinema. I bought Peanut M&M’s and we made our way through them.

After the movie, we made our way down to Central Station. I had to use the toilet under the bridge there and I’m sure the guy who came out before me was using drugs in there. I pissed. Thank God I’m a man so I didn’t have to sit down.

“Doesn’t the trip back always seem shorter compared to the trip there?” I said to Madeline.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“Wouldn’t it be so much better if this wasn’t the Metro, but it was in fact the Subway, in New York, and, we weren’t on our way home, we were on our way to our Manhattan studio apartments?”

She nodded, and smiled, I could tell it was forced but I didn’t care. I was too caught up in the fantasy of being on the Subway, in New York City, and going to my Manhattan studio apartment.

Picture this:One night later, I was lying in bed watching a rerun of “Sex and The City”. My phone signalled to me that I had a new text message. Nush. I wondered if my life was bound down to these text messages from her.

“Hi. Long time no speak. How are you? What have you been up to? Text me back, Nush x”

I had a thought: what if this was the girl I was meant to fall in love with?I decided to reply to her message.

“Yeah, long time no speak,” what she doesn’t know was I had been writing about her two nights before, “I’ve been up to nothing, how about you? Noah x”

Nine text messages, nine chances to ask her out on a date, and nine songs later on my iPod, Nush said she was going to bed. I told her to have sweet dreams.

"The Relationship Famine"

“I have to go, my girlfriend’s coming over.” I lied. It was one of those lies you know will never come back to haunt you because you lied so you could block the ‘buddy’ who IM-ed you first, who you never talked to in your life before that first “hey” or “how are you?”

Even though it wasn’t true, and I knew it wasn’t true, it felt so good to have that sense of security that relationships bring flash before my eyes in the chat box. I quickly shut down the chat box and blocked the ‘buddy’. But when the chat box disappeared, so did that sense of security that comes with relationships.

Not being in a relationship didn’t bother me until I realised that maybe it’s been too long since my last relationship. Two years, has it really been that long? ‘Maybe I miscounted’ I thought to myself, but I hadn’t, it really had been two years.

Six, maybe seven, months ago, this famine of relationships in my life nearly ended, but it was my fear of commitment that kept it going. Legally known as Anouska, but socially known as Nush. She was a beautiful, olive-skinned, girl who was two years younger than me, but her perfume reeked maturity. We met through Jason, at a fair ground in Durham, a smaller city just outside of Newcastle. We didn’t initially click. I was more interested in her friend Lisa, who was a year older than me. She had long, dark hair and the most striking eyes. She didn’t seem interested so I was keen to play with Nush.

We flirted all afternoon. We exchanged numbers and began sending text messages everyday. A week later, and over one hundred messages sent, Nush phoned. It wasn’t meant to be as serious as she was making it. She made me promise to not answer with a no, and that was when I knew what her question was.

“Noah, will you just promise me you won’t say no?” She sounded as if she was almost crying as she asked me.

“It depends what the question is.” I replied. This went on for a good five minutes; I was trying to stall the situation, even though I knew what was eventually going to come.

“Will you go out with me?” she quickly asked.

I knew what she asked, but I need to validate it, “What did you say?”

“Will you go out with me?” she said, almost as if it were the most shameful thing in the world.

The next thing I did would come to be one of the shittiest things that I may have ever done. I hung up. I don’t know why I did it. I think it may have been because I couldn’t handle letting someone down, face-to-face, or voice-to-voice.

I sent her a text message saying, “Sorry, my battery ran out, I have been meaning to charge this for days. Anyway, I just don’t think it’s a good time to be going out with someone, I mean, I’ve just got out of a serious relationship and all I want is a bit of freedom. Sorry, Noah x”

The truth was that I hadn’t just ended a serious relationship and the one thing I didn’t need was freedom, if anything I was sick of freedom.

Was being so used to freedom holding me back from relationships as I thought they’d take my freedom away? It was an interesting thought.

I, again, needed validation; so I turned to my friend of around four years, Mischa Richards. We first began talking when I found her email address on some pen pal website and we clicked there and then. I ran to her with most of my problems. She is very open about most things and not scared to shy away from her own opinions.

“So how long have you been single for?” I asked her.

“Um…lets see, around nine months maybe,” she replied.

“I’ve been single for nearly two years!” I said, as if it was some sort of contest and I was topping her answer with mine.

“It’s no big deal Noah, some of my friends have never even been in a relationship.”

I suppose that made me feel better, knowing that at least I had some experience to help me in the future.

I wanted to know more about relationships so I asked Milly, she was an old friend of Mischa and so that’s how we met.

“Are you single?” I asked.

“Yeah, since about April, so that’s about, eight months.”

“Oh.”The more and more I enquired, the more and more normal it seemed for people to leave long gaps between relationships, but it still played on my mind that it was two years, which is twenty four months, while these two girls had so far left nine and eight months, retrospectively, between relationships.

That night I could see myself dreaming of being alone forever. Two years turned to three years, three years turned to six years and eventually six years turned to an eternity. I was shit scared of being alone. I longed for that security and warmth relationships provide. So why did I turn Nush down? That still plays on my mind now.

Only a few days ago I received a text message from her, Nush.

“Hey Jason, how are you doing? We haven’t spoke in a while so I thought I would just check up on you. Text me back, Nush x x x”

Jason? She knows I’m not Jason, and we have spoken ‘in a while’, we fucking spoke last week. What kind of game is she playing? Does she know that I’m not Jason and just saying it to piss me off, or, has she genuinely made a mistake? I’ll go with the first, reason being I seldom reply to her text messages, and maybe she is getting pissed off at me ignoring her. Oh well, what is she going to do?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"The People We've Come To Hate"

At 9:40am on a typically English ice-cold morning, two streets away, Madeline was just waking up. Madeline Sandshaw was one of my closest friends and probably the only one who knows the most about my life without me having to tell her verbally. I’ve known her now for the better part of five years. She’s classy and sophisticated, with a brain “to die for”. I had already been awake for close to twenty minutes when we postponed our trip to the city by thirty minutes.

She was early by ten minutes, when she knocked on my door, and I was nowhere near ready, so I rushed around the house and she stood there in silence.

A bus ride and metro ride later and we were there. We wandered down Northumberland Street as Madeline smoked her way through a ‘Marlborough Light’.After our quick break at the ‘popular’ Starbucks, the conversation turned to our friend Skye Manning.

“I’ve kind of given up on Skye.” Madeline told me, as she sipped on her ‘tall mocha to take away’ (she once proclaimed ‘mochas’ as man’s greatest invention.)

“Every time I try to talk to her it’s always Aidan that she talks about, whether I’m talking to her or not, he always becomes the subject we talk about.” I couldn’t do anything else but agree, even though I hated doing so because I once loved Skye non-platonically. We both loved each other non-platonically, strangely at the same time, but neither of us had the balls to do anything about it. It was only a few weeks ago we admitted this to each other, when she and Aidan were going through one of their weekly rough patches.

“I know how it is.” I replied in agreement, “but you don’t have to go to school with her and see her talk about him everyday, every single day, and you don’t have to watch him break her heart as he wanders off into the hallway with Nathaniel.”

“I suppose. I love her I really do but I, but...” Madeline struggled to find the words she was looking for, “…but I don’t know anymore, their relationship seems to be wrong, but saying that the relationship I am in, or I’m not in, at the moment is in tatters.”

I had a thought: was Skye turning into one of those people Madeline and I hated, the ones that obsess over their partners until their partners break up with them? I would always be there for Skye, but I felt like things were eventually going to come to head. We were talking about Christmas over an MSN Messenger conversation and she suddenly interrupted with, “do you think I’m ugly? Aidan says I am and he only went out with me for my good personality.” I don’t even know why I replied.

Madeline and I carried on walking until she broke the silence with, “I don’t mean to bitch about her, but there’s nothing else I can do when I’m seeing one of my oldest friends being sucked into a relationship that I can see ending in disaster.”

I nodded. I was still thinking about Skye possibly turning into one of the ‘obsessive partners’. How could the once innocent, sweet, and kind girl I knew turn into one of the ‘obsessive partners’ that I read about on the Internet? It just didn’t feel real.

That afternoon, after Joe, Madeline’s on/off/on-again/off-again boyfriend drove us home, I spoke with my friend Jason Matthews; the biggest whore I know, for a man anyway. At a party not too long ago, I, and four other people, walked in on him fucking some virgin’s brains out. When I asked him about it later he said, “She was as tight as, as tight as,” there was a pause as he tried to think of something really tight, then, I filled in the blanks for him.
“A virgin?”
“Yes, a virgin.” He replied.

He said he’d also noticed a change in Skye. “She seems to have become more distant from our group of friends and more dependant on Aidan.” Just like before I couldn’t help but agree, even if it did hurt me in the process.“It hurts me to say it,” I said, “but I have to agree. To me, it seems like she needs Aidan’s approval of everything she does. If I had arranged to go into the city with her, and Aidan wasn’t happy about it, she’d make up some excuse as to why she couldn’t go.” She’d done that so many times, I remember them all though.

“Yeah, she did that with me. Now, I just don’t invite her anywhere. Anyway Noah, I’m meeting up with Victoria again, I know, I know, you don’t have to say it.” He replied.

“Yeah, I know I don’t have to say it, but I will anyway, you’re fucking crazy! She cheats on you every time but you just keep on running back.”

“But Noah, the sex is so good. Her parents caught us in their bed the other day, it was hot stuff dude.”“Okay, that’s all I can take, I’m still fragile from my morning mocha. Speak to you soon.”

I put down the phone. I wondered: was it this same obsession that made Jason keep going back to Victoria, and would it be the same obsession that could make Skye go back to Aidan, no matter what?

I made myself an instant coffee; you only get the good stuff from Starbucks around here. After thirty minutes of research on the Internet I learned nothing. Ignorance is bliss I guess.