Monday, November 19, 2007

"Season of Love?"

There are several sure fire signs that Christmas-is-a-comin’. For one, the red Christmas cups are now available at Starbucks. As is the Christmas menu, which includes my addiction: the Eggnog Latte. Another sign is the Big Issue vendors who have now started wearing Santa hats in an attempt to get people to give that £1.50 for a magazine most won’t even read. “Merry Christmas, Sir!” Slightly early, I thought to myself, but it was from the heart.

Fast forward to that evening and I was in Oceana, partying, again. Faye was there, but had to leave early as she was on placement at a primary school the next morning. After a few sly, short kisses, she said she was leaving.

“Why do you always text me at five and six o’clock in the morning?” I asked her, in an attempt to make her stay longer.

“Because I want some!” She replied, with no hesitation and a raised eyebrow. She turned and walked out.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I said, as I watched her walk away. Maybe she expected me to follow her, opening an invitation for her bedroom and my Durex, or maybe she was just ‘throwing it out there’.

The next morning I woke with a steaming hangover, not remember much more of the events from the night before after Faye had left. I came out of my bedroom and made myself a cup of tea. Christian was in his room, playing PS2. I sat myself down on his bed.

“Hey dude, good night last night?” He asked.

“Um, yeah, from what I remember. I don’t even know when, or how, I got home.”

“It was about 4ish, you didn’t wake me, don’t worry. I was getting some work out of the way.” What was he, I thought to myself? A drug dealer? A pimp? Who works at 4am? “You and Faye then?”

“What about me and Faye?” I responded, in mock shock, thinking he was referring to the Trojans on my shelf.

He rolled his eyes. “You must know that she has her eyes on you to be her boyfriend.”

Oh shit. “You think? I thought she just wanted, you know, friends with benefits. I don’t even think I want a relationship. I can just about deal with my own life, never mind having to deal with anyone else’s. Nah, she can’t want a relationship. She doesn’t.” Then it dawned on me. “Oh shit, she does.” I was trailing on. I was possibly still drunk.

“Noah, dude, chillax.” Christian was forever coming out with stupid little phrases like that. “You’ll need to decide whether you want to be with her, because she definitely wants to be with you. It wouldn’t be fair to string her along.”

“Wow. Philosophical.”

The next night, and still slightly hung-over, I played host to our very own flat party. A very inebriated Faye was in attendance. I had decided to analyse her signals. I had to work out: Faye...friend or girlfriend?

“Why do you never talk to me except when you’re drunk?” She slurred, in her very sexy Northern Irish accent I might add. Girlfriend.

I chose my words wisely. “It’s you. I always talk. You only ever seem to text me when you’re drunk.” I grinned.

“That’s not true.” She replied, playfully punching my shoulder. Friend. She lay back on my bed, eyeing me up. Girlfriend. “Can I borrow your belt?” Friend.

“Sure.” I rolled my eyes, and she kissed me goodbye, in a non-friend, but definite girlfriend, type of way. Girlfriend.

A day later, with Faye still playing on my mind, and after an expensive lunch in a Tapas bar with a course mate, I was pre-Christmas Christmas shopping. You know, looking at potential gifts for others, in hope of finding something for yourself. Looking at the fragrances, I smelt something familiar. It was ‘The One’ by Dolce & Gabbana. I had bought it for Ella last Christmas. Sentimental, sexy and understated. It reminded me of everything I had ever liked about Ella. I picked it up and sprayed it onto a test card. I fingered the simple, golden logo that was printed on the bottom of the card. This time last year Aidan and I were shopping for our respective girlfriends. The only difference now was that Aidan and Skye had made another year, where as Ella and I only managed three more months. I slid the card into my back pocket, and left the store.

Several streets and too much money later, Ella was still on mind. I needed to shake this. I dumped my purchases back at the flat, changed into my joggers, grabbed my iPod and went jogging. Was I hoping that maybe I could run away from the memory of Ella? I went to wipe a bead of sweat from under my nose, and ‘The One’ lingered on my hand. I had a thought: maybe it was time to talk to her.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"On The List"

It was a couple of nights later and several of my friends, including Hayley Carmienti, who is also in Leeds, and I went to the biggest club in Leeds, Oceana. Oceana boasts around six bars on four different themed floors, from Boudoir, the sexy bar with beds and drapes, to the Aspen Ski Lodge with real life log fire, and more impressively a New York disco, complete with a mirrored and fluorescently lit dance floors. Faye was there that night, but with a different set of friends. We had since been around each other, but only as friends. However, there was always flirting; from my part at least. I rarely misread ‘the signals’, but I still had to ask: was this feeling I felt mutual?

“I rarely venture to a club or bar without being ‘on the list’.” I told an old friend in Newcastle over the phone, while I contemplated new clothes in Harvey Nichols in Leeds. “It sounds pretentious, but it’s not, it just makes life a hell of a lot easier.” No que-ing, sometimes no entry fee, always at least a reduced entry fee, and a hell-of-a-lot of the time V.I.P. access. What could possibly be so wrong about that? Oceana was no different this couple of nights later. Except, after all, a night out wouldn’t be a night out if it didn’t involve a soap star...this is Leeds we’re talking about.

After que-jumping and fee-jumping, we were in. It always felt better to be taking the V.I.P. staircase. As we toasted our first drinks, I cheekily smirked and decided dedicate it “to our connections.” We laughed and downed our free champagne. Even though I’d only been in Leeds less than a month, I’d made so many connections of people who work the doors, behind the bars, and on the promotional sides of things.

Several hours, as well as several vodka mixers, later, all eyes turned to the Grand Venetian Ball Room, where an ex-Australian-soap-star-turned-pop-star was due to sing. Hayley and I were next to the stage regardless and decided to stay. Throughout her set, the Oz soap-star singled me out of the audience, pointing to me, singing to me and giving me ‘the eyes’. After a quick flirt in a meet-and-great session she held in Boudoir, I was left feeling back in the game and with a confidence boost.

Vodka, Vodka, and more Vodka later, I locked eyes with Faye. Before I knew it, it wasn’t only our eyes that were locked. Not only were we kissing, passionately and intensely, but our hands were locked together, almost as if we were holding onto each other for life.

“It was kind of kinky.” I told Ben, who had fast become the guy I’d talk to about anything, in the same manner as I had done with Danny. He raised his eyebrow, looking up from a newspaper he was half-heartedly reading. “You didn’t let me finish, it was kind of a weird way. There was definite lip biting from her.” I looked around the train station. He had agreed to wait for my train with me as he needed to buy tickets from the station anyway.

“That is kind of weird. Personally I’ve never enjoyed the lip biters.” He replied, turning a page. “I’ve never seen Starbucks so empty.”

“Quiet period? I sort of enjoyed it though?”

“What? A quiet Starbucks or the lip biting by Faye?”

“Well...both. But more so the lip biting.”

On the train back to Newcastle I had a lot of time to think. Had I become some sort of masochist? Maybe that could explain why I had started talking to Ella, and thinking about her an awful lot, again.

Stepping out onto the platform at Central Station in Newcastle, it felt like everything had changed yet nothing had changed at all. Everything was different, but everything was the same. Maybe most of the changes had occurred within me.

Hayley Carmientti and I plotted to surprise Kayla on her birthday, and it worked like a charm. She was surprised, and even reduced to some small tears. After climbing into taxis, we arrived in Newcastle. “Ah Newcastle” I thought to myself, “So good to be back.”...but something was up. It didn’t feel the same...could it be that for once I wasn’t on the list? That night all of our friendships were tested, especially when Aidan got angry, which made us all feel awkward, because it was for no apparent reason. Although, we did leave them waiting outside Mushroom Bar for half an hour, just as they did to us earlier in the evening after going to The Other Rooms to meet Aidan’s friend from work, without even telling us. Could this be the reason? Then, in the line for Liquid, we turned around and Skye and Aidan were gone.

“I haven’t seen them since. Skye texts me telling me I have to come back and visit, but what she doesn’t get is I have a life down here now. To be honest, I’d rather spend money on a good night out in Leeds than on a train fare back to Newcastle just to see her leave us without saying goodbye again.” I was getting worked up. I always do when it comes to Skye. “What’s stopping her from visiting me?” I told an uninterested course mate over a presentation we were working on in a library.

Maybe I should have taken Danny’s warning about my visit, but I was just so hopeful that things would be different. I had a thought, and I knew exactly why things were so unsuccessful. I’d moved away and I was the one who had changed. Whereas my friends back home hadn’t moved on, they hadn’t changed. I had to ask the question: when did friendships get so complicated? This wasn’t on my list of things I’d come to expect.