Sunday, January 16, 2005
While I was getting ready, the phone rang. It was Madeline.
“Hi Noah, do you still want me to buy you some Vodka and cigarettes for Jason’s party?” She asked me.
“Yeah that would be great Madeline.” I replied.
We discussed what size bottle of Vodka and what cigarettes I wanted then she said:
“Ok, well my mum’s taking me so I’ll meet you there.”
“You’re coming?” I said, obviously shocked.
“Yeah, Jason said I could. In fact, how are you getting there?” She asked.
“In a taxi, with Jasmine and Kayla. You could probably get in with us.” I said.
“Yeah, that would be great Noah. My mum doesn’t know where it is. What time will I meet you?”
“Um, Jasmine is coming to mine for 6:30pm so just for then.”
“Ok, great, I’ll see you then.”
I put the phone down. I know the reason Jason hadn’t invited Madeline to his party until she confronted him about it. He knew it would be uncomfortable for Madeline, Nathaniel and Laila. Madeline and Nathaniel had this whole history and it would be true to say that everyone knew Laila, Nathaniel’s present girlfriend, was not happy with it. Jason, being as smart as he is, knew things would get tense and chose Nathaniel and Laila over Madeline.
I had a thought: Why did Jason choose Nathaniel and Laila over Madeline in the first place? It turned out the Jasmine had already arrived at Kayla’s house so Madeline and I walked down there. Madeline had bought me my Vodka and cigarettes and had also bought some sort of Vodka drink for herself with her pack of twenty Marlborough Lights.
The taxi took us to Jason’s house and after searching for five minutes; we finally found it. Madeline, Jasmine, Kayla and I were introduced to Jason’s ‘other friends’, who we didn’t know.
At around 7:45pm, everyone turned up. Madeline and me stood by the door, that leads to the back garden, while Laila and Nathaniel, surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, ignored us.
Madeline and I decided it would work out best if we got drunk. Out came the plastic cups and diet Pepsi, plus the bottle of ‘Glen’s Vodka’ that Madeline had bought me. I got drunk. Sometimes it feels like I want to escape, and in drinking and smoking, I found out how too...it was my escapism. Madeline and I went and stood outside while we smoked our way through several Marlborough Lights, something we did quite often that night. We talked about things and Marissa Bushnell, the girl in our “clique” who gets drunk, then gets emotional, and then cries, and her present boyfriend, who is also one of Madeline’s ex-boyfriends, Joshua Williams came and joined us. Marissa soon went back inside and I stood and watched Joshua and Marissa catch up. I thought to myself in my drunken state: How sweet.
It turned out that Joshua and Marissa were having another fight. Joshua later told me:“We were in the bathroom and I was going to fuck her, but, I couldn’t get it hard, you know how it is? I'm drunk so it’s probably because of the alcohol. So she just said ‘Fine!’ and stormed out, as per usual.”
“Yeah. I understand. I’ll stick up for you man.” I slurred my words as I spoke.
The night was drawing to a close. I was thinking to myself: Thank God nothing between Madeline and Laila has flared up. I guess I spoke too soon.
Laila’s brother had come to pick Laila and Nathaniel up. I went out and spoke to him, as did Skye, and Aidan. We’d met him at Nathaniel’s surprise party, back at the start of December.
Back in the house, I saw Laila walking over to Madeline. I knew something was going to happen. I was right.
Laila was pointing her finger in Madeline’s face shouting, “You ever call me a man again I’ll come after you, right?”
Madeline was obviously confused, saying, “What? This is the first time I’ve ever met you or spoke to you.”
“No, you called me a man on the phone.” She replied.
“What are you doing? You’re in someone else’s house. He’s not even your friend. You’re with Nathaniel. Have some respect.” Madeline later told me she, Laila, didn’t intimidate her.
“Come outside then!” Laila shouted.
“What? Look at yourself Laila. You’re acting like a fool.” Madeline responded.
At that point Nathaniel came and took Laila away while I pushed Madeline into the kitchen and shut the door.
However nice Laila was to me, I told Madeline: “She’s not worth it, leave it.”
“I know she’s not worth it,” Madeline said to me, piecing bits of her mobile phone together so she could phone a taxi to come and collect her and me.
The situation between Joshua and Marissa grew worse as the night went on too. I sympathised with Joshua, even though I was Marissa’s friend. Marissa’s other friends took on Joshua, making him out to be the bad guy. I thought to myself: Did they really know what was going on? Would they think differently if they did know? The majority of her friends being female, I don’t think so.
By the end of the night, I invited Joshua to get in the taxi with Madeline and I. He accepted. It was only on the way home did I say we should all go to Madeline’s house and have pizza. She didn’t seem to mind so we did.
Joshua and I stayed at Madeline’s house until around 1:30pm. Joshua and Madeline mostly did the talking. I tried to absorb their conversations as much as I could. They talked about everything that had happened since they last spoke. I felt out of place a little, but it didn’t bother me that much. I sat and ate pizza, and observed two old friends, become new friends.
Maybe this would be Madeline and I in the years to come, after she’d moved to Darlington and I’d moved to Manhattan, although at the party, I'm sure we mentioned ‘Manhattan’, ‘together’, and a ‘studio apartment’ in the same sentence. Maybe we wouldn’t have to catch up like Joshua and Madeline did because we would still talk to each other. Maybe, just, maybe. Who knows?
Saturday, January 08, 2005
I’ll start from the beginning, which is a very good place to start.
After carrying what seemed like four thousand books home, I was just about ready to collapse and settle for an early night, the first in what was now to be known as ‘the week and a half I lived on coffee’, when the phone rang.
“Hi, is Noah there please?” Jason asked. My voice couldn’t have changed that much since an hour and a half ago, which was when I last saw him.
“It is Noah,” I answered, “What’s up?”
“It’s just it’s my Uncle’s birthday party tonight and I was wondering whether you would come to keep me company?”
“Hmmm, I'm not sure, I wanted an early night and have some work to do.” I answered.
“Noah, please come. I’ll invite Madeline and Skye, and even Aidan!” He replied. It was strange, as Jason had never really liked Aidan.
“I’ll tell you what, if any of them go, I will. Deal?” I said.
“Deal. I’ll phone Madeline now. - ” He said, hanging up before he said goodbye. I was expecting a phone call a couple of minutes later telling me what was happening, but when there was no phone call, I decided to phone Madeline.
“Hi Madeline, it’s Noah. Are you going to this party tonight? Has Jason even phoned you?” I asked her.
“Yeah, but I'm not sure whether I should. Joe came round last night and we sorted things out. I jus thought it would be easier if we got back together, now I'm thinking ‘what the fuck have I done?’” She replied.
At that point, I was thinking ‘what the fuck has she done?’ too. I like Joe, I honestly do, but Madeline has told me she loves him more like a brother than a lover.
“Aw Madeline. You’ll figure something out. So about this party, are you coming? I said I’d go if you did.” I told her.
“Yeah, go on, we’ll go. What should I wear?” She asked.
“I heard it was fancy dress.” I said, holding my laugh in.
“You’re joking? If you are I’ll kill you.” Madeline jokingly threatened.
“I'm joking. Calm down. Um, just phone Jason and ask him what the major details are. Phone me when you get some.”
“Ok, will do. Bye.”
Three phone calls later; the major, and minor, details had all been sorted. Madeline and I were meeting Jason outside of ‘The Stella’ at 7pm. He said if we were there before him “wait outside because it will be strange for two unknowns walking around in the party.”
‘The Stella’ is almost a ‘working gentleman’s club’, but almost a pub too. It had function rooms, one of them being where the party was held.Madeline and I stood outside until 7:35pm, which was when Jason eventually arrived. ‘Fucker’ I thought to myself in my head, I'm sure Madeline was thinking the same.
In this town, you always know someone, who knows someone who can get you into a party, and this was one of those moments.
We walked into the function room, all eyes on us since no one seemed to recognise us. We settled at a table in the corner, hiding us from Jason’s family, or so we thought. It turned out that some of his family sat near us.
After thirty minutes or so, Madeline and I plucked up the courage to walk to the bar, without caring if Jason’s family were staring, and then looking at each other and asking: “um, does anyone know who they are?”
I didn’t know what I wanted exactly, but I knew it had to be alcoholic. Madeline ordered a pint of Cider and Black current and I got a half-pint of Cider and Black current, which I wasn’t too keen on.
Madeline and I took regular cigarette breaks, even though I wasn’t smoking at that time. I just stood with her while she offered me cigarettes and talked about Joe and Adam, who had since phoned her when we were waiting for Jason. It turned out she was ringing the wrong number and it was Alan from London.
When Madeline and I returned to the bar, she order another ‘Cider/Black’ I think she called it and I was recommended to get a ‘Diesel’, which was lager and black current mixed. I did, I got a pint of it. I still wasn’t keen on that either. I smiled most of the night, pretending to laugh at the dumb jokes they were making. And after even more cigarette breaks I ordered a Vodka and Coke, then soon after two Vodka shots, one for me and one for Madeline. Then before we left, another Vodka and Coke, which I drank pretty quickly.
Jason’s mother drove us home and I got out at Madeline’s house as I literally live four minutes away.
“Do you fancy going for a walk?” I asked her.
“Yeah sure, we should. Wait until Jason’s mum is gone, then we’ll go.” She replied.
Once his mother had gone, Madeline pulled two cigarettes from her bag, knowing I only smoke when I'm drunk, and at 11:03pm that night, I was very drunk. I stumbled around with a cigarette in my hand and eventually, I told her everything that I had been feeling since my grandfather had died.
“Seeing Jason, and how his family are close to their grandfather, it just brought back so much.” I said. “You know, when he was in hospital, I was the most scared I have ever been.” I revealed.
“I know. Well I don’t know, but I can imagine.” She replied. Madeline was so great that night.
“And when my mum rang from the hospital to tell us he’d died, I heard the tone of my Dad’s voice, and he didn’t even need to tell me. I knew it. I knew exactly what had happened. It was horrible. I burst into tears and started shouting, ‘Well why the fuck couldn’t it have been your fucking father?’ It’s the only thing I thought of. How could someone so evil, still be alive, when the nicest man I’ve ever known had to die?” I said, close to tears, drunk, and finishing the cigarette.
“I know exactly what you mean. It doesn’t seem fair does it?” Madeline replied.
I had a thought: Would I be telling Madeline all of this if the alcohol and nicotine wasn’t there, fuelling my emotions and confidence? Of course I would, she knew it all anyway, but maybe not to this extent.
I carried on about how I wanted my Dad’s father ‘fucking dead’ and how I was planning to change my name when I reached the legal age. I said: “I don’t want anything from him,” him being Alan, my Dad’s father, “Not anything, not my looks, not my blood, not my name, just my family he’s provided me!” I joked that I should change it to “Noah Sandshaw.” Madeline laughed. I told her how he’d came to my Grandfather’s funeral and how it made me so mad to know he was watching me pay my last respects to my only Grandfather by reading a letter I had wrote to him.
I guess I don’t remember much of that night when I walked with Madeline. I remember smoking two cigarettes. I remember being close to tears talking about my Grandmother’s hospital experience, although it wasn’t nearly as awful as my Grandfather’s, who had died in there, and I remember being close to tears, because of the frustration and anger I felt towards Alan, the supposed Grandfather.
That night I went to the place I had come to fear the most, my mind. I had told Madeline everything about how I had been feeling since August. She listened. She nodded. She was everything I want in a friend.
“Um, so, what do you fancy doing now?” She asked me.
“I'm not sure, how about we go to the Baltic?” I answered.
“Yeah, I haven’t been there in while. Do you want to go the long or the short way?”
“The short way,” I said with a smile on my face, “obviously. I'm pretty lazy you know.”
After a long walk, which was supposedly the short way, and fifteen minutes of me complaining about the muscles in my legs hurting, we arrived at the ‘Millennium Bridge’, which you need to cross before you arrive at the ‘Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art’. The ‘Baltic’ was once a flourmill, with the side of the building still branded with “BALTIC FLOURMILL”. We walked slowly over the bridge.
“Look how dirty the water is.” She said.
“Yeah. Do you think they pump sewage into it?” I asked her.
“Probably.” She replied.
We stayed silent until we got over the bridge and were getting closer to the entrance of the next gallery.
“Wow, look at that.” I said pointing to the temporary ice rink opposite of the ‘Baltic’. “We should go ice-skating.” I said.
“I don’t go ice-skating, I’ve never been before.” She answered.
“I used to go all the time when I was younger, I couldn’t skate so I would cling onto my Dad.” It was true, I was tempted to go on and lie about how I eventually learned to skate, but if she changed her mind, I would look a fool, so I didn’t.
“Ah, that’s sweet.” She replied, half replying to my story and half indicating to the elderly man and women sitting on one of the bridge’s four benches; eating sandwiches and drinking coffee.
Scary thought: Would this be Peyton and I in fifty years?
We spent a couple of minutes observing the little children holding their parent’s hands, and the young teens in love holding hands, skating around the outside of the rink.
“Ok, so do you want to go into the art shop first, or should we look around?” asked Peyton.
“Hmmm, well, I want to look around first.” I would have said this if I wasn’t being a gentleman, but I was so I said: “Well, I'm fine with whatever you want to do.”
“Well, we’ll look around first and on our way out we’ll look in the shop.”
In the ‘Baltic’, each exhibition is given it’s own floor, with there being four floors, five including the observation box. We looked at the first exhibition floor, which I commented on as being “different” and Peyton commented on as being “just ok.”
I walked in front as I headed towards the elevators to take us up to the next floor.
“Oh Noah, these elevators make me feel nauseous. Is it ok if we take the stairs?” She asked, almost embarrassed by this.
“Yeah, that’s fine. I need some exercise anyway.” I replied, almost sounding sarcastic. Hadn’t I had enough exercise anyway from walking to ‘The Biscuit Factory’ and then the ‘Baltic’?
Was I being this kind because, self-consciously, I knew she could be the one? It was an interesting thought.
We reached the second floor, eventually, and we walked into the exhibition.
“Wow!” I said to myself. Peyton overheard.
“Yeah, I know, it’s great right?” She said.
“It sure is, this is probably my favourite one so far, ever.” I was over-exaggerating, but she would never know.
Peyton and I left the ‘Baltic’ around forty minutes after arriving. We walked to the Starbucks where I told her to get us a table and I’d be over there once I had my ‘tall mocha’.
I sat down and she looked bored.
“Aren’t you going to get anything?” I asked her.
“No. I told you about the bad Starbucks experience I had didn’t I?” She replied.
She had already told me about but she went on to tell me again, mentioning her boyfriend and an ‘iced caramel machiatto’.
We sat in silence. I sipped my mocha and Peyton looked at the guy sitting across from me. Well, actually, she was looking more at his notebook. Later, I figured that she was trying to decipher what he was writing since she was obviously bored of watching me drink coffee.
I watched her for a minute. She was still watching the same guy, who looked Spanish, scribble in his notebook.
“I'm in love with New York.” I said, hoping to start a conversation of what we want to achieve in life.
“Yeah.” She sat in silence after that. Ten minutes later I had finished my mocha. I thought to myself: What’s wrong with her? What have I done? She was ok at school, so why now was she being silent?
“I need to go now, I said I’d be back for 4pm.” I said to her.
“Yeah ok, we’ll go now.” She replied.
It seemed as if she wasn’t at all bothered about conversing with me, or interacting with me in someway. One of the strangest things I remember Peyton saying to me was:
“That church over there, apparently over 100 witches were buried there, but no one knows exactly where because they didn’t leave markings.”
“Oh. Ok. You learn something new everyday I guess.” I replied, not knowing what to say.
“Yeah. Sorry I just know these facts, I'm big on stuff like this.”
It was at that point, after visiting a witchcraft shop selling hand-made wooden wands, made from the wood of trees from the Northumberland forests, that I knew she wasn’t right for me.
On the train home, we sat in silence, and we did on the bus as well. When I think about now, most of the day was spent in silence. But, it was that awkward moment when we both left each other at the corner of Essex Drive and Heworth Road that I’d most like to forget. We weren’t sure whether we should, kiss each other on the check, on the lips, or hug, or whatever. So after about thirty seconds in silence just looking embarrassed and awkward, I said:“Ok. I better be off. I said I’d be back soon anyway.”
“Sure, yeah. I’ll probably just see you around. You have my mobile number right?” She answered.
“Yeah I do. We’ll speak soon anyway. Bye.”
I walked away from her when she said bye. The wind was blowing so strong my hair was in my eyes and my Manhattan Skyline artwork I had bought was bending. I'm sure it wasn’t that bad for a first date.
Monday, January 03, 2005
A New Year brings new dreams, new hopes, new aspirations, and a new determination that only ever lasts until the end of January for most people. This year, I was determined to join the ‘dating game’, I had give up on relationships at some point last year when I realised I was scared of commitment, but hey, who isn’t, even if just a little.
So, a few days ago, a friend of a friend, who was now my friend, we’ll call her Peyton Dylan, told me she had a thing for me. Peyton was a year younger than me, but looked older than me. She had black hair and a pale shade of white face. I took a chance and asked her out on a ‘day-date’. She said she’d ask her boyfriend if that was ok, I was shocked, as was Mischa when I told her. He said he didn’t mind and we arranged to go to an Art Gallery where Andy Warhol’s work was currently showing.
My spies told me she was having trouble with her current boyfriend who had already cheated on her four months into there, so far, seven month relationship.
Although we had arranged what we were doing, no final date was set until the day before when she rang me.
“Hi Noah? This is Peyton.”
“Oh hello. What’s up?”
“I just had a diary check,” she said giggling, “and I'm free tomorrow if you still want to go on that date.”
“Yeah sure.” I said.“I found out that the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Biscuit Factory is only until January 6th so we should go while it’s still on.”
“Yeah, yeah, that sounds cool.” I had butterflies in my stomach already.
“Okay, so if we meet at the bus stop at school at around 10.30?”
“In the morning?”
“No, at night silly,” she said sarcastically.
“Ah ok. See you then Peyton.”
“Yeah, see you then.”
I hung up and looked in the mirror. Was I a step closer to committing myself to someone? It was an interesting thought.
The night before the ‘day-date’ I stayed up until 3am reading through old journals. The nostalgia of everything and realising how much I had changed made me less nervous. I thought to myself: right about now I could use an alcoholic drink and a cigarette. It was strange as I only smoked and drank at social occasions. 9:45am, the next day, I woke up. My alarm hadn’t gone off. “Shit!” I said to myself. My hair was being a bastard that day, she even commented on it when we were in a shop, comparing it to the Beatles-style hair.
At 10:30am I left the house. I was late. I sent her a text.“I’ll be literally three minutes.” I said, hoping I would be.
10:35am and I approached the bus stop and spotted her.
“Three minutes my ass. You’ve been five. But it’s ok, I like talking to strange old women.” She said jokingly, with a smile.
I replied with: “Five minutes? Sorry. I woke up late and had to shower and then, well, that’s it.”
We only waited two minutes and the bus came. We got on and we discussed how tired I was, how tired she was, how an apple and cup of tea can wake you up on a morning and how if I fall asleep would she wake me up.
All day I was scared in case the conversation ran out. Conversation did run out three quarters of the way there. I thought, shit. I started making up possible conversations in my head.
“I think it’s so fun listening to old women’s conversations,” she said, indicating to the two old women on the next platform who were talking to loud they might as well have been broadcasting it over a speaker.
“Yeah, I haven’t exactly done that before.” I said, sounding naïve as we climbed on to the Metro.
“Oh you should Noah, you can learn a lot. Last week I heard Dave was in hospital with a bad liver, apparently he’s an alcoholic!”
“I have no idea.”
“Oh, so what you really like doing is listening to other peoples lives and their problems?” I said, joking slightly, but really meaning it over all.
“No! Well, ok, yes, maybe.” She said laughing.Conversation ran out again so I asked her which station we should get off at.
“Um…whichever one you want to.” She replied.
“Ok…Monument because that’s the closest to a Starbucks and we can walk to ‘The Biscuit Factory’ from there. I need coffee. I can’t function until 2pm without it.”
“I'm not a big coffee drinker. Bad Starbucks experience.” She said.
Bad Starbucks experience? How can that be? Starbucks is my ecstasy, and I can feel myself falling towards the addiction.
I collected my ‘grande mocha to take away’ and she told me: “Make sure I don’t buy any Dorothy shoes, now that’s my addiction.”
“Dorothy shoes? What are they?” I asked.
“Like the ones Dorothy wears in the Wizard of Oz.” She replied.
We made small talk all the way there, most of which was me asking, “are you sure you know where you’re going?” “How much longer will we be?” and “Can I see the Gallery from here?”
‘The Biscuit Factory’ was a quite new art gallery which held modern art as well as a lot of older art.
“I like seeing the more modern art, brighter colours, better patterns. I just love the modern art more.” I told her.
“You see, I like both types of art, and if I had to choose between the both, I couldn’t. I have my eye on Andy Warhol’s ‘Marilyn Monroe’ piece, £50,000 plus V.A.T.” She sighed. I could tell by this she loved art much more than me. “But, I just don’t have £50,000 plus to give away. I love it so much too. Maybe Christmas?” She said, giggling slightly.
I thought to myself: maybe she wasn’t the girl I thought she was. I then thought: I still have the rest of the day to find out.