Sunday, December 24, 2006

"How do you leave the past behind when it keeps finding ways to get to your heart?"

I arrived in London and got my transfer train to Essex for the 21st birthday of a close friend Tess. She'd been in California for the past two years or so and wanted to see everyone before she applied to University. I met with the usual gang: Ashley, Hermione and Adam and Hermione's German friend Martin. The drink was flowing and everyone was having a great time. Adam brought up an incident in October where Hermione and I got drunk and made out. He kept referencing it.

Hermione, Ashley, Adam and I had been in London before our trip to New York, which Hermione didn't attend. Hermione and I were persuaded to go to the noted gay club G-A-Y, after heavy persuasion from Ashley and Adam, and we thought we'd seen Daniel Radcliffe walk past. It turned out to be great fun. Lots of cocktails. Lots of flash photography. Lots of dancing. At one point the barman called me a "beetch" playfully, presumably he meant "bitch", for me not drinking his Bloody Mary's. Then Hermione and I got closer, and as we left for the station to make sure Hermione got her train, there was some sort of lustful chemistry between us. We kissed. And kept kissing at different locations in London until we reached the station, where we kissed goodbye.

Ashley told me, and everyone else later that she found it "so funny that the two gays didn't have as much fun as the two straights."

Since then, Hermione and I have talked and remained friends, no more no less. But the past, and my past actions, always seem to bite me in the butt.

Oh, here's a love story for you. Once upon a summer, my friend Danny fell in love. It was sweet really. They met when he had signed up for a summer abroad programme in the USA. They spent the week holding hands, exchanging life stories, and telling each other they'd keep in contact for life. Photos of the two were taken, and memories were made. It was all very sweet, and the first of it's kind for Danny, who was a serial single and never really seemed to commit. Although Danny and this girl, we'll call her Kitty, never commited, or even publicly acknowledged their feelings for each other, they and everyone else saw the connection they'd made, and Danny and Kitty at least were hoping that connection would stay strong even back in England in the dark, depths of the 'English winter'.

Their parting at the airport was "hell" Danny told me. Once they'd claimed their baggage, they just looked at each other with Kitty proclaiming "This is gonna be hell!" and kissing him on the lips.

"That was a testement to the intensity of this whole Kitty situation," he told me. It was obvious he still had feelings for her.

They kissed several more times, "no tongues though", before Danny eventually left with Ashley for the North-East of England, and she remained in London.

"It hurt so much leaving her. It made me depressed. Just thinking about her it was..." Danny struggled to find the words.

"I know man, I know."

He made a visit in Dundee, where she was studying dance at University, in an attempt to keep their connection strong, but it was then that Danny realised things weren't the same and that, as corny as it sounds, it wasn't summer anymore. He made a conscious decision to get over her, though he then announced to a table full of his friends at a mutual friend of ours 18th birthday celebration meal that she was his “true love”.

Now, what makes the story relevant to today, and how you can never leave the past in the past, is he has a girlfriend. He adores her. But on a recent night out, where he was hideously drunk, he got home and signed into MSN.

“A confessional ensued as I told Kitty EVERYTHING! From meeting in USA to now. How I felt. I don’t remember exact words. But she returned my feelings for her. Now, what do I do Noah? Do I keep what I have, and what I can see working and where I can see the relationship growing into love, or gamble it for a long-distance relationship, but a relationship where the love has already been established? Noah, seriously, help me!” He ate the pepperoni from the top of his pizza. I could tell he’d lost his appetite.

“I honestly don’t know Danny, I really don’t. I think this ones a one for the ladies to advise, and, maybe you’re gonna have to figure this one out on your own.”

“Great, just what I was afraid of.” He sipped the water whilst simultaneously looking worried.

It was a tough situation to be in. I had a thought: could you ever really leave the past behind? How in the past is the past? Will it always find a way to get to your heart?

I looked at Hermione. She was laughing with Martin and Tess, and Ashley and Adam were dancing. I sipped my OJ. I thought to myself that there was definitely ‘the spark’, but I could only imagine us as friends. I knew though that although our kiss was in the past, it would always be there whenever we saw each other.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Cheap Vodka and Cheap Clubs"

"So do you love her?" Skye enquired over a jug of Long Island Iced Tea, on a night out.

"" This was followed by even more 'umming' and 'awing' as I tried everything and anything to use everything and anything but the 'L' word. "It's a bit early to say. We've only been going out," I hate that term - I mean where exactly were we going? "for a little under a month."

"Noah...does she give you butterflies?"

"She does." I replied.

I couldn't help but think back to feeling like a 15 year-old again - which is exactly what Ella is.

Before I met up with Skye and her boyfriend Aidan, who was our designated driver for the evening, I'd spent the afternoon with Ella at a shopping centre, gathering presents for Christmas.

"We spent the afternoon holding hands and looking into each others eyes," I told Aspen while Skye and Aidan were at the bar. I failed to tell him about our "fragrance war" in the perfume shop, fearing it would sound too immature.

"Puppy love Noah, puppy love. You have to be careful, remember how girls at 15 got attached really easy?"

"You think? Ugh I honestly do not care - so what if she's younger - and an adolescent - I really like her; is a year and a few months really that big of a deal?"

"Just wait..."

Why had I resigned myself to using the world adolescent? What was I? A 75 year old man talking about "those pesky adolescents on the metro"?

I spent my train journey down to London the next day thinking about Ella. Why was I so scared of the word 'adolescent'? I mean, we'd all been there.

Hungover, with big dark glasses, and a bottle of water becoming a permanant fixture in my hand, I phoned her.

"Ugh Ella, I feel so bad!"

"I'm not surprised. Babe, when you phoned me you were slurring and shouting and everything!"

"Oh wow! I don't know what happened. I think it was the house treble vodkas," they were cheaper apparently, "Oh no. Oh no! Please tell me you didn't hear Wonderwall!" Oasis' classic had come on and Skye and I had phoned her.

"Yeah, it was if I was really there."

"I actually cannot believe it. I can't believe how drunk I got. I can't believe how hungover and sick I feel right now. Well, I'm gonna go, probably get some food. I'll see you babba!"

There were so many thing I felt like I need to say - like how I quite literally am disaster. I just wanted to try and warn her about me before things got anymore serious. For example, I'm a serial binge drinker who you'll quite possibly receive calls from at 2am, totally wasted from cheap vodka from a cheap club. But for now I wouldn't.

"I think I'm still drunk, " I thought to myself, "Oh God!"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Status: In A Relationship"

There comes a time in everyone's life when they change their status. For Richard Branson it was becoming a 'Sir'. For Camilla it was becoming 'Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall'. And for me, it was changing my MySpace status to: 'In a Relationship'.

In a world of text messages, instant messages and MySpace, how hard could it be to change my status? The answer? A lot harder than I thought.

I spoke to a friend over MSN one day.

"Aspen, do you think I should change my MySpace to 'In a Relationship'?" I asked him.

"Um...sure, go for it!" He replied.

I just didn't want to put myself in a position of vulnerability, but I did want to show Ella that I did care.

"How long have you been 'going out' then?" He asked.

"Since the infamous party where I got out-of-my-mind drunk and declared my love for her several times, to her face...AND in several voicemails."

"Oh...Well I definately think you should change it." He reassured me that it was the right thing to do.

Was Aspen right? Was I really ready to take the plunge and click the button?

A couple of days later, on a usually quiet Thursday night, I was making my way into the city for another 18th birthday celebration. Kiri's. We, we being a group of her closest friends, were invited for an Italian at The Gate. Long Island Ice Tea after Long Island Ice Tea, the conversation fell into the area of age difference in partners, specifically the age difference between me and Ella.

"So are you not bothered by it?" Saycon asked me.

"Not really...You can't help who you fall for." Wow, I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. This was met with an "Aw" from the 7 other ladies at the table, with me and Aspen looking at each other and rolling our eyes.

"Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed," Aspen said, this met with open mouths and shocked gasps, "is what someone told me. I think it's sick!" He hastily added.

I laughed and laughed, while taking a break to order another jug of Long Island Ice Tea.

Conversation led to elsewhere, and Samantha leaned over the table and whispered: "Don't worry Noah, I won't judge you."

The next night I was invited to another 18th birthday party. This time at Studio, a nightclub in the town my college is situated. I had invited Ella to come along and she did. We spent the night drinking vodka, holding hands and dancing/kissing/gazing into each others eyes.

"It all seemed very adolescent," Danny said to me later, "She just seemed to be infatuated by you, and you her, like you were..."

"...15 again?" I was thinking exactly the same. Ella was 15. I started to wonder what I was getting myself into. Was this puppy love? Or was I forgetting the feelings I had for girls when I was 15?

Was I becoming 15 again? Was I demonstrating that 'you're only as young as you're last girlfriend'?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Hot Kisses & Hangovers"

A couple of weeks back, I attended an 18th birthday party; it was one in a succession of 18th birthday parties I've been to lately. "Is Ella going to be there?" My friend Danny asked me. "I think so...I hope so." I knew she would be. She'd been friends with the newly turned 18 year old since she was 7. "Well have fun, and just make sure you don't get together when you're drunk, she might think it's just the alcohol."

He made a valid point. If I got hideously drunk and declared my true feelings for her, maybe it would be passed off as another one of those drunken declarations of love that always seem to happen when I get drunk at parties.

I had a thought. Could alcohol be to blame for the pairings of many couples? Could it be Brad and Angelina shared a bottle of wine before falling head over heels in love? And how about TomKat...could it be there romance started over a beer or two? And maybe if Shakespeare hadn't had his way Romeo and Juliet would have fallen in love over several shots of Tequila. It was an interesting thought, and one that may turn out to be true.

I spent almost thirty minutes trying to choose what would look perfect, hopefully trying to seduce Ella into a relationship. "Sorted," I hoped to myself that I looked good enough, because I'd be lying to say that looks, and impressions, don't matter.

I met my friends Danny, Samantha and Kiri for a few pre-party drinks that would hopefully build my 'Dutch courage'. We made plans to visit London and spend copious amounts of money on watching the many new musicals to hit London this season: Wicked and Avenue Q were the front runners. And then we left for the party.

Our arrival at the party was met with, for me at least, tedious hand shakes with people I never speak to and drunken hugs from the people I do speak to. I immediately scouted the room for Ella. I couldn't see her. I'd been assured by her she'd be here so I made my way to the bar.

Three double vodka and cokes later Samantha told me of her arrival. I bounded over to her and greeted her with a hug - one of those drunken hugs I always complained about.

"Ella! How are you babe?" Did I just say 'babe'? I never say 'babe'.

"I'm great Noah. How about you? Are you drunk already?"

"No, no, don't be silly. I'm good though, really…good."

Maybe it was the lack of curry I'd eaten, or tried to eat; earlier but the vodka was sure making its mark. Then again, it could be that three double vodka and cokes is actually a lot! Already I seemed to be £15 out of pocket.

"Hey. Do you want to get a drink? Come to the bar with me." I grabbed Ella's hand and pulled her to the bar.

"Can I get another double vodka and coke, and....." I looked at Ella who looked at the barman.

"....a vodka, lemon and lime please."

We looked at each other and smiled...'Could this be the start of something new?' I thought to myself.

After what seemed like forever, and after what I've been told was six double vodka and cokes, we went to dance...I say dance, but I actually mean "stupidly shaking what your mama gave you" as a friend one described it.

"So..." I began.

"So..." She replied.

I thought to myself 'here goes...' and went in for the kill.

We spent what felt like two hours kissing. Just kissing. Occassionally we glanced at each other. Then more kissing. Then a trip to the bar. And then again more kissing. All the while holding hands.

"That's my Dad behind you." She whispered to me.

"FUCK! What?"

"That's my Dad."

OH SHIT! Usually first introductions to your partner's parents aren't when you've had over half a litre of vodka and are dancing like a fool whilst kissing their daughter.

"I must have made such a good impression" I told Danny over lunch several days later.

"Well at least they've seen the real you.." He tried to console me, but it just wasn't working.

"What? An older, alcoholic lathario seducing their younger daughter without thinking of the consequences. Fucking great."

"Jeez Noah, exageration much?" He said while pushing a lettuce leaf into his mouth, "Seriously, calm down. I bet they were drunk too! You shouldn't worry. They probably don't even remember."

"Ella told me they do. Apparently I got her to introduce me to her parents, and she did! Then when I left I left her a string of voicemails that she happily played to me at the bus stop that Monday. Great!"

There was a moment of silence before Danny changed the subject. "So how did you feel the next morning then?"

"Like shit. Absolute shit. And what's more is that I had to travel with my parents and brother down to Leeds to drop him back at University. Like I even wanted to."

"Lesson to be learnt maybe?" He asked, rhetorically. I smirked and drank the rest of my water.

Maybe Danny was right. There probably was a lesson in all of this. But I was probably too hungover to figure it out.