Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"The Toxic Relationships"

Toxic relationships: the relationships that aren’t good for you but you just can’t let go of. They’re the relationships that destroy friendships, relationships with families and relationships with your inner self.

Having fallen behind with my writing and with my work, I’d decided to spend this particular Friday night at home, with a cup of tea (how English of me) and crumpets (ok, I lied, I meant to write toast), but that was until I’d remembered that I’d promised Skye I’d spend the night out with her, Aidan and Madeline. “A Friday night, and I'm playing third wheel to two other couples.” I thought to myself as Aidan drove to Adam’s house as we picked up Madeline and Adam. “Great.”

After seeing the movie ‘Notes on a Scandal’, which was amazing, if a little creepy, and having my card declined by cinema staff claiming they don’t accept the brand which caused major embarrassment and a whole waste of time, we drove our way to one of our usual hangouts when we’re all together: Wetherspoons.

Adam and I headed to the ATM while Madeline and Skye set up shop in Wetherspoons and Aidan drove home, leaving his car there and returning to us from there. However, Madeline was ID-ed, and although being of legal age, was declined entry into the bar.

“Bastards!” Madeline repeated, over and over again. “Three weeks in a fucking row! Bastards! I’ve been coming here for four fucking years! I'm so angry.”

It was understandable. They’d ask her age when she was actually legal but when she was underage they’d happily serve her alcohol.

“It’s alright.” Skye and I tried to comfort her, while Adam used other words.

We decided to go to Skye’s house with some wine and a Chinese and watch some DVDs. Aidan drove back down and took us to the Chinese after alcohol shopping and while we were waiting for a Chicken Chow Mein, a discussion over schooling took place and Madeline stormed out from the car. Several minutes later Adam followed her. When Aidan arrived Skye and I explained the situation. We waited ten minutes in the car, hoping they’d return. And following numerous unanswered phone calls and un-replied text messages, we made the decision to head to Skye’s house. In the car towards Skye’s house, I had a thought: had our friendship become toxic? I got worried, Madeline was one of those true friends who you could go weeks without seeing, but when getting together again it was like there had been no time between your last meetings.

After watching ‘Dirty Sanchez: the Movie’ which may quite possibly the sickest film I’ve ever seen, Aidan decided to walk me home, which I suspected was a guise to get him out of Skye’s house, which had been filled with tension since we first got there.

On the walk home, we drank bottles of pre-mixed alcohol and he talked about his plans for a new car. It wasn’t long before our conversation turned to Skye.

“I want her to go out. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered, but I know she wants to, so I say to her that she should go out, but she just doesn’t want to without me.”

I already knew this, but I guess it was just hearing him say it, and it being repeated, that enforced the seriousness of the situation to me.

“Sometimes I just want to stay in play on the Xbox, watch a film, have a wank, whatever, I'm easily pleased you know. But she just won’t go out without me. And it’s because she think I'm going to go with other girls,” he paused. “I just don't want to be the reason she doesn't go out and have a good time.”

“I guess that’s what happens when you spend literally every waking moment with each other.”

“Yeah. Because like we work together, go to college together, and every other moment we’re with each other.”

It was at this point I became so grateful for what I had with Ella. We didn’t spend every waking moment with each other, yet somehow, I figured that our lives just fit.

He went on to tell me that at one point in the past they’d come close to splitting up because of this. I knew that if they had, it would have killed Skye, literally. He was her heart and soul, and I couldn’t help but feel torn between the two feelings: 1) being happy that Skye was so in love and 2) being slightly worried that she won’t let him out of her sight.

Had Skye and Aidan’s relationship become toxic? Or had it always been that way? I’d known for quite sometime that their relationship hadn’t been healthy. She never seemed to want to do anything alone anymore, and always seemed to need him by her side. Had she become dependant on him?

I left Aidan with a sense of guilt. I felt like I was leaving him to deal with his toxic relationship, but then I realised I really had nothing to do with it. I was just relieved to know that my relationship wasn’t like theirs. At that point I thought: would I really be able to deal with it if it were?

“I have enough trouble sharing my food never mind my personal space,” I told Danny over coffee the next day. “Maybe by keeping myself to myself a lot, and not letting Ella in as much as I should, I'm kind of, sort of, trying to protect myself, and my relationship, from becoming toxic.” Well, at least it made sense to me.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"I Belong To Me"

Some have claimed, from apparent experience, that relationships can only work if you’re willing to share everything in your life.

A couple of nights ago Ella and I celebrated being together for two whole months by going out for an Italian. In the two months we’ve been together, I think it’s fair to say there have been some ups and downs, mostly downs. But, as I always say “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

“Just think, two months ago today we were at Rachel’s party hooking up.” I said, looking at her across our table.

“Yeah, just think.” She replied, smirking and semi-giggling.

We ordered our food, me getting a Spaghetti Bolognese (original, I know!) and her a burger. It wasn’t long before conversation turned to the people around us.

“Do you they are?” She said to me, indicating to two men behind me.

“Do I think they’re what?”

“You know…”

“Um. I don’t know. Maybe?”

“I think they are. My mum and I do this all of the time when we’re out. Do you not?”

“Not really.”

I twirled more spaghetti onto my fork and carried on eating. I thought to myself, watching her eat her burger: is she like a small child seeing a wild animal for the first time? Was she mesmerised by the fact she rarely comes into contact with homosexuals? “I still don’t see the big deal she has with it,” I said to Kayla through a text message.

“When you see a black person, you don’t question whether their African or Caribbean do you?” I later told Danny. “Apart from that small thing, it was a surprisingly pleasant meal. It was calm, we talked, and I just felt like we reconnected – is that a little bit romantic of me to say?”

Several nights later, I met up with Kayla, Madeline, Ella, her friend Mary, Aspen and Josh and we hit up Studio, a club just outside of the city. It was a good night in which we all got drunk, Madeline and I smoked and drunk more. And after several hours of partying hard, Madeline, Kayla and I decided to hit it up somewhere else. Kayla wanted to meet a guy she had been seeing and I was getting sick of the whole Studio atmosphere.

“Ella I have to go now. I'm sharing a taxi with Madeline and Kayla and they want to go now, so I'm off too.”

“Noooooo! You can’t just leave me!”

“Why? You’re with Mary…”

“Yeah, but she’s at the toilet,” she interrupted me.

“And she’ll be coming back. Plus, Aspen and Josh are here, and I know for a fact they’ll look after you two.”

“Yeah, but, you can’t just leave me by myself.” She repeated to me.

“Like I said, Mary’s still here. Lets find her then.”

I waited outside the ladies’ toilets for what seemed like ten minutes when Ella and Mary came strolling out. Ella seemed angry but still kissed me goodbye and I ran out to meet Madeline and Kayla who’d been waiting for me in the cold, dark, wet, night. ‘Real, unselfish, friends’, I thought to myself.

“I'm sorry. I had to sort something.” I shouted to them, feeling slightly deaf from the overly loud music, as we ran towards the taxi rank.

As we climbed into the taxi, the discussion of my sex life with Ella arose.

“Tell me you haven’t done anything with her Noah,” Madeline demanded.

“No, we haven’t. I just don’t know where she stands.”

“Well, just wait. Because believe me, I know that when you do something, and it’s not right, it hurts you so much after.”

I looked at Kayla, hoping for her to tell me something different, “It’s true Noah.”

“Yeah, I know it’s true. But what if it does feel right?” I questioned.

“Still, wait.” Madeline said.

“But the thing is, she’ll get me so worked up and into it, and then just be like ‘Oh, I need a drink.’ And I buy her a drink.”

“It’s different for girls though.”

“How? It’s sex. Same for everyone.”

“No, it is different for girls. More intense and more meaningful.”

It was a valid point. I had a thought: was I meant to wait until she signalled that it would be ok for us to sleep together?
The next morning, I phoned Kayla.

“Good night last night wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, apart from when you guys were left outside in the cold while I was held captive by Ella,” I said, laughing.

“You know, I thought that’s why it took you so long. I just didn’t want to say anything,” Kayla confessed.

“I mean did she think I was a dog or something and if she lets me go I might not come back?”

“I know what you mean,” she said, slightly giggling.

It was an interesting thought, but did Ella really think I belonged to her, and she belonged to me? Was I ready to share my life entirely with someone in order to make this relationship work? I wasn’t sure, but for the minute, I knew one thing, that I belonged to me.