Friday, September 21, 2007

"...Goodbye To You: The End Of The Beginning."

With my move to Leeds getting ever closer, I decided now would be the time to make final memories with friends and say proper goodbyes. Saycon Pittsburgh was the first to go, moving to Germany for a year after landing a job looking after children there. After a hop, skip, leaving party and final supper meal later, she was gone.

“Going, going...gone. It’s like one by one we’re all leaving...and things will never be the same.” I told Madeline over another one of our famous lunches, which involved very little lunch and a lot of cocktails.

Our conversation led us to adulthood. “I was talking to Danny, Skye and Aidan the other week and I was just like, how old are we? We were talking about bills, rent, and insurance. We’re adults now. I have a bank, with a big, BIG, overdraught!”

“It’s scary isn’t it?” She replied, knowing exactly what I was talking about.

There comes a time of year in Newcastle when you can feel the seasons change, almost as if it were clockwork. It was several mornings later, on my way to meet Madeline for breakfast at the Stateside Diner, that I felt this change. It was 8.55am and the air was crisp, no longer soft. I walked from Central Station to the Stateside Diner and noticed that, although the leaves were not necessarily orange, they were no longer green. I couldn’t help but think that I was in the middle of change.

Over breakfast, Madeline and I discussed change, our friends and lives. After my stack of pancakes and her mushroom omelette, we went shopping. We wandered, without aim, around the city, in what I thought of as my farewell tour of the city I love and know: Newcastle. We stopped at the Monument, and I looked around. This was my home. But a crisp breeze reminded me of changes – the change in Seasons, and the change I’m making in my life.

Although I knew that I’d be back, saying goodbye to Madeline made things feel final. We wished each other luck, hugged goodbye, and I took my final metro journey home.

“I can’t believe this is goodbye,” I thought to myself, while crossing a bridge that overlooked the Quayside. But this was, essentially, the end.

The next morning I packed up my car and set off for Leeds. It had taken days of packing, deliberating what to take, and saying goodbye to my friends and family, but I had done it. My place looked bare and empty, but it was clear that new memories for new people would be made just as I would make new memories in Leeds. The next chapter...well that’s still unwritten.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"I Heart Newcastle: The Beginning Of The End..."

There comes a point in everyone’s life where moving on is the only thing you can do. For me, that time is now. It took several trips to Ikea, in which I bought essentials for my new apartment, and the correspondence between my new landlord and myself for it to finally set in – I was leaving. An unofficial farewell night out with my old friends was thrown in the city on Thursday. Combined, I couldn’t help but ask the question: was this the beginning of the end?

Brooke picked me up and took me to her house, where Haley was waiting, ready to go...apparently. Of course when we got there, both decided to get changed and I was sat for another thirty minutes as my beer buzz wore off. Brooke reapplied her hair extensions and in a moment of boredom, I tried one of them on, giving me a mullet that could rival that of a guest’s on ‘The Jerry Springer Show’.

After hair extensions in, hair extensions out, hair extensions back in, jewellery on, jewellery off, jewellery back on, high shoes on, flat shoes on, high shoes back on, we finally climbed into Brooke’s 07 Mini One and headed into the city.

It seemed that the more vodka I drunk, the more positive comments I received about my new found blondness. I wasn’t complaining. One girl even told me I suited being blond more than I did my natural brown colour. “Um, thanks.” I answered, as if it were a question.

Seeing the many old faces, and noticing the faces that weren’t there, made me realise that we had all moved on, and were all ready for new challenge. Although we were able to move onto bigger and better things, there was always the feeling that we’d regroup and be able to share our experiences.

In my drunken state of mind I began contemplating my move to Leeds. With this contemplation, I had a thought: why was living in Newcastle so extraordinary? It was a question I brought to Madeline’s attention when we met for “lunch and cocktails” several days later.

“I just love Newcastle. I know it so well, I know the places to go, the places not to go. It’s just home.” She replied.

“I mean, where else would we know where to go for lunch and cocktails at 1pm for a reasonable price?” I replied, half laughing, half honest. I began thinking, once I had moved there would be no more spontaneous “lunch and cocktails” in the city, and Newcastle would no longer be a short bus ride away. My meetings with Madeline, in which we should share the new goings-on in our lives, would have to be planned months in advance.

I have argued for so long that Newcastle is great. I have always said that it combines the values of the North, which is the friendly atmosphere and community spirit, with a nightlife that could rival Hollywood or New York. New bars opened practically every week, and it seemed that there was something somewhere to suit individual’s tastes.

“I’m going to miss it so much,” I confided in Madeline. “It’s such an amazing city with such character and history.”

“Noah,” Madeline replied, sipping on her Margarita, “Leeds is great too, you know. They have the Corn Exchange and places like that, plus, the nightlife is meant to be amazing. So when I come down to visit, you’re definitely taking me out!”

Looking to the future made me think: was this really the beginning of the end? Sure enough, it was the beginning of the end; the end of one chapter in my life. But was this a case of the glass being half-empty or the glass being half-full? With the glass being half-full, I simply decided that now, it was the end of the beginning.

Monday, September 03, 2007

"A Little Older, A Little Wiser?"

My return from Barcelona brought some unwelcome questions that I hadn’t prepared answers for: What’s happening with you and Lyndsey? What’s happening with you and Jaime? What’s happening for your birthday?

My birthday was here and although I was a year older, I felt none the wiser when it came to women. Whilst sitting with Danny at breakfast one morning, I had a thought: what had I really learned about girls? That maybe I should turn gay. Well, maybe guys wouldn’t treat me as bad. Then again, although they treat me bad, and are confusing, I just can’t help but love the women.

“What have I really learnt in the past year about women?” I asked him.

He looked up from his bacon, eggs and baked beans, took a sip from his O.J. and said, “That you go for the cunts who treat you bad.” A woman with a child on the next table looked at him. “Fucking children.” He scowled at me.

“Well, I could have told you that. I honest to God think I'm no wiser than I was a year ago.”

A serious relationship, and several failed attempts at starting two serious relationships later; I was still getting burned by the girls I tried so hard not to get burned by. I had to think: was there any joy?

I looked at several of my friends. Samantha and Mark. Brooke and Brady. They had all managed to get into relationships, and find joy, and even love from them. How had they got it so right?

“Looking back,” I told Skye as I drove home from dinner with her, “every girl I’ve ever been with has been quite a bad experience.” Then I thought: maybe I had conditioned myself to not put myself out there fully and embrace the love that could be. “Ella was just a whole negative experience in itself. She was everything I wasn’t, and that just didn’t work for me. Jaime, well, she played me, and now she fucking wants me to go to lunch with her, just as ‘friends…or whatever.’ And Lyndsey, well, she blanked me on holiday.”

“Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from. But you can’t just give up. There’s someone out there Noah.” Ah, good old faithful Kayla: The eternal optimist. She’d found love at an early age, well, fifteen, and has been with him for the next four years. Her optimist was contagious.

“I guess so. But Jesus Christ why the stress?” I arrived at her house and told her I’d see her tomorrow. I was planning to be her guest, using her gym membership in a bid to lose weight and get fit for my move to Leeds. Maybe a toned, muscular Noah would attract new girls.

9am the next morning. “Hey. Lying on the beach getting a tan. Mwahaha. What the weather like there? Raining? What you up to? X” – It was Jaime. Didn’t she get I didn’t really want to talk to her? Maybe she didn’t get it because I actually did want to talk to her. I still liked her, but the Miguel situation still played on my mind.

Logging onto Facebook, which is pretty much the new MySpace, I saw Lyndsey’s status. Her summer was apparently over and she wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s probably because she missed out on your Summer Lovin’ Noah.” Danny texted me.

“Shut up! That’s just corny!” I closed my phone. The sun shone in my garden as I stood out there drinking a mug of coffee. I had a thought: maybe that’s all Lyndsey was – a summer romance that never was. But I had wanted so much for it to be, and it wasn’t. I knew I hadn’t tried hard enough.

So, the only thing I could figure out was that, although a little older, I certainly wasn’t a little wiser. Unanswered questions don’t bode well for a ‘wise Noah’.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

"Escape to Barcelona"

After avoiding instant messages, phone calls and text messages from Jaime, I decided I needed to take ‘Operation Complete Ignorance Will Make The Situation Go Away’ up a step and I booked myself on a flight to Barcelona and stayed there for four days. Thank God for family living abroad, in particular my self-proclaimed “fabulous” gay brother.

So after a morning, and some of the afternoon, spent either in an airport, or airborne, I landed in the city of Barcelona. “I am ready to forget England and my drama there,” I told myself. After a bus ride from the airport, in which my brother had told me I’d gotten fat, I arrived at my brother’s apartment. We decided to drop my luggage off and then head down to a café come bar and meet up with his friend Diannah.

She was an African beauty, who was a one-time actress and had guest starred in many of Britain’s most famous dramas, such as ‘Casualty’ and ‘Eastenders’. Now, she teaches English to Spanish adults, while being hungover from the night before.

“Hi daahhrling! It’s great to meet you!” She greeted me in an accent that was so clearly exaggerated, but so clearly worked, as she kissed both of my cheeks. “Is it too early for wine?” She asked, ordering red wine with tonic.

My brother and I looked at each other, my brother almost telepathically telling me ‘I did warn you.’ She went onto talk about how she is playing two guys, French Marvin, and a guy called Dan. French Marvin is “lovely” but Dan has the “most perfect penis in the world.”

After spending the day in my brother’s boyfriend’s salon, I decided that I wanted to celebrate my new blondness, and wanted to test the theory that blonds have more fun, I decided to see what Barcelona’s night scene had to offer.

That night we had a Columbian meal, which included several hefty glasses of fine red wine. Half-buzzed, my brother and I headed to Diannah’s apartment, where more alcohol was consumed. Even more was consumed on our walk to the bar where we met more of their friends.

Several vodka and mixers in the first bar, with measures triple the size of what I'm used to, later, we merrily rolled along to ‘Club Mondo’. Along with Diannah, my brother and me, were about five Scottish friends of theirs. They’d all worked in Barcelona for the Summer, but were soon to return home. French Marvin and his friends were there, as was Albert, an American man who had managed to get us VIP Guest list in several bars.

‘Club Mondo’, a bar that overlooked Barcelona’s famous harbour, was beautiful, and it truly made you feel like a VIP. Of course, with this came VIP prices, so my brother and I shared several more Vodka and Mixers, along with a drink or two American Albert had scored for Diannah, who decided she wasn’t drinking that night.

We spent the night dancing, and I lost my self in what Barcelona had to offer. Jaime, Lyndsey and all the drama from England were gone. I was happy just to be in my brother’s company and having a great night. I had a thought: was a new hair colour, and escape to Barcelona, alcohol, and dancing all it took to let this drama go? Was it because I was in a new country that I decided I didn’t need old drama? Whatever it was, my night was drama free.

Several more Spanish cocktails followed in a new club ‘City Hall’ and the club closed. It was 4am.

“NO! I don’t want to go home. The night is young…C’est la vie! ...No...I mean Carpe Diem!” I swayed, whilst American Albert handed me a can of beer. “I love it here! I want to experience full Barcelona!”

“I know Noah, but I'm tired. We’re going to the Picasso museum in six hours time!” My brother pleaded. It was no use. I was a lost cause.

“Fuck Picasso! I want to party!” I began dancing under a marquee outside the ‘City Hall’ club.

“Listen, if you want you go home, I’ll look after Noah.” Diannah told my brother.

“No, I'm staying with him.”

We ended up at some house party where a pretentious young girl from London tried to make us think she knew what she was talking about…she didn’t.

“I'm tired. Let’s go.” I said to my brother. It was 7.30am. While we were leaving the grande apartment that seemed to have a million rooms, I ran into one of the kitchens, grabbed the Doritos, and ran. Diannah and my brother followed.

We stopped at a café that had just opened for the day: Diannah ordering a glass of wine, my brother a coffee, and me an iced coffee. We got home at 8.30am and I paid the price for the next two days.

“I’ve never vomited so much in my life. It was just constant. I couldn’t keep anything down.” I told Danny when I got home. “But hey, I lost four pounds. And that’s good considering I’ve put on twelve since May.”

“Well, what’s good is bad and what’s bad is good.” He told me.

“What the fuck is that? That’s not a saying!” I laughed. I knew what he meant, every cloud has a silver lining. And maybe my drama in England was my escape to Barcelona. And my escape to Barcelona was my great night out. After all, it had been an escape after my break-up with Ella that had helped me out. Was escaping the new dealing head on with your problems? It was an interesting thought.

“So what are you doing for your birthday next week?” Danny asked me.

“Good question…”