For context on the below story, you can read the history of the Dane and I.
One Month Ago:
I opened up my email and my eyes went directly to the subject of an email facebook had sent me.
Dane has sent you a message on Facebook.
I had sent him a message ages ago for his birthday and the day prior to his message had sent him a link to something funny I had found which reminded me of him. I hovered the arrow over the email.
You are and have always been SO FUNNY! But first of all, I owe you a big apology for not getting back to you for a very long time. So, seriously, I’m sorry, REALLY, REALLY, ESPECIALLY, EXTRODINARILY, sorry. I’m really just a lazy fool who is constantly preoccupied with himself and can’t ever find the time to write to those who love him and those whom he loves, like you. So, if you’d forgive me, I’d like to reconcile our distance and my lack of communication with this message, never too late.
I paused and re-read his introduction. Was this a joke? Who says things like that? I momentarily wondered if this was a step in some kind or rehabilitation process or something to that effect. Curious, I read on.
He wrote about where he was and what he was doing before going into more existential topics.
There’s so much life here, so much going on, so much trash and beauty all at once. I’ve experienced a rainbow of emotions since being here, from nostalgia to joy, sadness and angst to weightless hope for the future. I’m discovering that the source of all my angst is an aversion towards responsibility. For some reason, I’m running from it, looking for a way out, for something else to do before I must commit to anything. It’s bizarre, or completely normal, I’m not sure. But it’s happening, and I’m aware of it, which is good, but it also means that I have to do something about it. Because if you know that something is happening but do nothing to change it, there’s a problem. So, that’s where I am now, struggling with a perceived sense of obligation to do something both for myself and for others, and I think what I’m doing now satisfies those requirements.
But enough about me. How are you? I just watched that little scene you sent me. Kind of weird, but you and everything you send me never fails to make me laugh. I think I heard that you’re in London and I should be passing through there when I’m home for Christmas. I would love to see you. Give me a quick update when you get a chance, and I won’t be mad or surprised if I don’t hear from you in a while…
I had no idea what to think. I closed my laptop and got up to go for a walk to the shop.
As I wandered through the aisles of Waitrose I couldn’t help but think about Dane. I hadn’t seen him in two years. I had only spoken to him sporadically. Only once on the phone, and every now and again by email or facebook.
Pouring a glass of wine once I was home, I contemplated my response. I sat down in front of my computer once more and after a healthy sip of Pinot Grigio I began typing.
I live to hear your fabulous laugh, it’s probably one of my favourite sounds in the world. So I’m glad that you find me so amusing.
Your apology really isn’t necessary. In the grand scheme of things I’m hardly a role model for the best friend/daughter/student of the year and am well aware of the feelings you’ve expressed. The polarising effects of my selfishness happen rarely, as I’m happy most of the time, but I am constantly reminded of the different ways in which my life could have gone. In the end, though, you have to trust that everything happens for a reason and that wherever you are is where you’re needed or meant to be. That said, where are you? I’ve rooted myself in London and will be going home for a week during Christmas, so still not very far from London, and would love to see you as well. Sounds like we’ll finally be in the same city again just when you need me. Well, not that you need* me per se, but I think that it’s interesting that our relationship has had a bit of a diamond shaped path in that we were so similar when we first met and then it seemed like the last time I saw you we were at the peak of being as different as possible, and now we have come back around. You’re probably the male version of me, universally speaking. I can’t stay put for too long in any given place, so I definitely understand your aversion to commitment. I don’t like the idea of settling down, and actually don’t see any need to. It could just be that I’m attention-challenged, but I really find it difficult to focus on any one thing for too long.
Enough rambling! This is far too serious for facebook! I am so happy that you’re going to be near to me and I can’t wait to see you.
Again, you really don’t need to apologise. You know that I’ll always love you – so you’re stuck with me forever! I really hope that we can catch up. What’s your mobile number?
I miss you and look forward to seeing you soon.
I pressed send, responding via email then went to facebook to double check that there weren’t any typos (as you do), only to find that it was formatted strangely and not at all symmetrical, as it appears above. Frowning, I started typing again.
PS: I have no idea why that message is formatted the way it is. I initially responded via email but having just seen it on facebook it looks all kinds of crazy. Apologies.
Not expecting a response any time soon, I went back to my wine and 4oD. About an hour later I was taking a break to peruse facebook and the message box was lit bright red with a number one in the centre. I clicked on it and Dane had written me back. I raised my eyebrows and opened the message.
Haha, that it does. Just like you – a little ball of crazy!
It’s no surprise that you did well on your final exams [sidenote: details of my exams and other such boring personal details from previous correspondence were not included in my cut and paste job] because you express your thoughts and ideas so well. I agree with everything you say, and I too have aggressive career/ life path attention deficit. I think that’s common for our generation too. Many young people aren’t sure what to do or how to do it, but I think we all want to prioritise life over work. Can’t go wrong with that, surely? So what if we’re all broke and living with mum and dad at age 30! We will be living life in the moment!
My mobile is 07xxx xxxxxx. Call it anytime once I’m in London and see what happens…
I laughed. I left it for the evening and went to bed. I woke up the next morning and re-read his message over coffee. I began typing my response.
I think that you’ve known me long enough to know that I am most definitely a big ball of crazy, and a bit awkward as well. Like you!
I have the gift of eloquent blagging, yes. Kidding, I did mean everything I said but kind of wish I hadn’t come up with ‘the polarising effects of selfishness’ because I woke up at six this morning thinking about that. For about 5 minutes. Then went back to more important thoughts about myself.
I most definitely prioritize life over work. Which is why I’m doing what I’m doing, but I’ll tell you all about that when I see you. I like the “call it and see what happens” . . . sounds like a sexy riddle.
Another side effect of the my writing style is that I write essay-length messages and emails. I’m very impressed with your prompt response, though! Almost makes me optimistic that people CAN change. Not that I want you to change – I like you just the way you are (and yes I heard that song in my head as I was typing those words).
Can’t wait to see what happens when I call your mobile xx
After some weeks had passed and the date on which he was meant to arrive had come I texted him.
I hope you made it to London alright. Hopefully we can have a catch up soon xx
Five minutes later my mobile rang.
‘Hello.’ I said in a quasi-sultry voice.
‘[My name], it’s [his name].’
I laughed. ‘I know. My phone gives me this information.’
He laughed. ‘Right. So … how are you?’
‘Good. I’m very good.’
‘And yourself?’ I asked, mindlessly pacing the room.
‘I’m doing quite well actually … I would love to see you, are you free at all this week?’
‘I am. I’m in London all week, then at home for the weekend. Then back again after that.’
‘Well, I’m free on Friday evening, will you still be around?’
‘Yes. I will still be in London.’
‘Excellent, I’ll call you that afternoon.’
‘I look forward to that.’
I could hear his smile through his voice. ‘Great. See you soon.’
‘See you soon.’
I put my phone down. Pursing my lips, I thought for a moment. Maybe he’s gay.
‘Well it would make sense.’ Charlie said into the phone. I called her after I got off the phone with Dane. She, more than anyone else, knew of what I had been through with him.
‘I always kind of thought he could be. I mean, aside from the two of you sleeping together all that time.’
I exhaled. ‘Well I suppose there’s only one way to find out.’
‘Let me know what happens.’
‘He better not be gay.’
‘Because I want to marry him, that’s why!’
She laughed. ‘Oh, yeah. That.’
‘Minor detail. I’ll casually drop it into conversation around our third drink. “Oh, and by the way …” Should go over well I feel.’
‘Well, let me know how that goes.’
‘You know I will. Are you still coming down this weekend for the party?’
‘I haven’t missed it since I’ve known you, so of course.’
‘Amazing. Can’t wait to see you! I’ll call you after the date with Dane.’
‘Please do. Good luck.’
‘Ta. Love you.’
‘Love you, too.’
Two days later I was sitting in my kitchen when my phone buzzed. It was Dane.
May I buy you a drink this evening? Xx
I wrote back immediately.
Why yes you may, where shall I meet you? xx
Fantastic. Meet me at the Parsons Green tube stop at 5 xx
At 16:55 my train arrived at Parsons Green and I walked to the street. I pulled out my mobile and texted Dane.
Where exactly are we meeting? xx
My phone buzzed a moment later.
The White Horse. I’m running a little late, of course. Be there in 15 min xxx
Naturally. I’ll meet you there in 15 xxx
It was the first time I was on time for something in quite some time, so I suppose it was karma. I played it off as if I wasn’t there yet as to not come off as a total keener. Twenty minutes later I texted Dane again.
I’ve found the pub. I’m outside xxx
Without any sort of brain to phone filter I replied immediately.
That’s what she said xxx
Five minutes later I saw a tall figure running across the street from the tube station. Dane saw me and crouched down as if he were sneaking up on me and pretended to hide behind a sign which held a sign with parking directions and restrictions. To no avail, as he is quite a bit larger than said pole. He peeked around it and laughed as he saw me laughing at him and ran to me.
‘Hello!’ He said, lifting me up and spinning me around as he kissed my cheek.
‘Hi there.’ I said, face to face as he was still holding me about a foot off the ground in his arms. Looking each other in the eyes, I added. ‘I’ve missed you!’ And pressed my lips to his, as they were at a convenient distance.
He squeezed me as he kissed me back and after I pulled away he said, ‘I’ve missed you as well!’
He put me down and we went inside. Within minutes we were speaking as if we had seen each other just the day before. He told me about his travels and where he was now living and I told him about life in London.
‘Your message on facebook was very out of the blue.’ I said, finally.
‘It was definitely time though.’
‘It sounded a bit like something a recovering alcoholic would write.’ He laughed loudly, throwing his head back to allow it to echo through the room. ‘I mean, I sat there reading it and thought, “If this is him trying to come out I’m going to be very upset.”’
He laughed harder, then looked at me, still smiling from laughter. ‘I’m not gay.’ He said, shaking his head as he said it.
‘Well that’s a relief, it would have made you fathering my future children a bit awkward.’
He laughed again. ‘Is that the plan then?’
‘It is.’ I said, winking.
‘I like that plan.’ He said, smiling.
‘Well I mean, if you’re not gay by then.’
He laughed. ‘Just because I’m a nice guy, doesn’t mean that I’m gay.’
I inhaled sharply through my teeth. ‘Ooh, would we call you nice?’
‘Oh come on, I’m nice.’
‘You are now, but I wouldn’t want to be around you during a famine.’
‘That is true. I get very upset when I’m hungry.’
‘I know this. You told me. And then I just thought, “Why in the world didn’t he tell me that sooner?” If all it took to calm you down was a meal replacement bar it could have made our relationship much easier having known that fact.’
He smiled. ‘You’re amazing, you know that.’
‘Yes, I do.’ I said, sipping my drink. He chuckled. ‘So, are you seeing anyone?’
‘In fact I am.’ I raised my eyebrows. ‘But I have quite the predicament. Maybe you can help me.’
‘I’m sure I can. Dump her and date me instead. Problem solved.’ He laughed. ‘I’m kidding. Go on.’
‘Well before settling where I am now I met a girl during my travels. I met her in Spain and she’s Danish. We’ll call her The Dane.’ (This is 100% true – he literally called this girl The Dane.)
Not ironic. At. All. Not one bit. ‘Okay, The Dane. What’s wrong with her?’
‘Well she’s coming to visit me for three weeks.’
‘Well I’ve started seeing someone where I am now and I think I might like her more.’
I shook my head. ‘Does The Dane think that you two are exclusive or in some kind of long distance relationship?’
‘Not at all.’
‘Then what’s the problem?’
‘Well, the girl I’m seeing now knows that The Dane is coming to visit, so if I disappear for three weeks she’ll know it’s because I’m with her.’
‘And is New Girl under the impression that you two are in a relationship?’
I took a sip of my drink. ‘Okay. So you like New Girl more than The Dane?’
‘Yes. Is it too late to tell The Dane not to come?’
‘When is she coming?’
‘Yes it’s too late you muppet!’
‘Would it be difficult to change her plans so that the trip was shorter?’
‘Yes. You can’t do that. Does The Dane know about New Girl?’
I exhaled. ‘The only option I see here is to just be honest with New Girl and tell her that while The Dane is here you’re going to have to spend all of your time with her and that the two of you have to take a break until then. Just be honest.’
‘Yeah, I guess there really isn’t any other way.’
‘If nothing else than to just avoid the pure awkwardness that would ensue if that poor Danish girl showed up and you told her that you were seeing someone else and that you couldn’t hook up with her, as she is undoubtedly under the impression that the two of you will be sleeping together while she’s here.’
‘We were intimate before, so yes that is probably true.’
‘You were “intimate”? Who talks like that? You are one strange boy, you know that.’ I said, laughing.
‘Thanks for the advice … You really are amazing.’
‘I know. You told that me five minutes ago.’
He kissed me on the cheek. ‘Want another drink?’
‘Yeah. You definitely owe me.’
‘I’m going to a party after this, would you like to come?’
‘Great.’ He said, smiling.
He returned with the drinks and we sat and chatted about uni days and laughed about our awkward virgin antics together.
‘I think you are the only guy who I know who insists on taking a shower before sex. Scratch that, before hooking up even. When we weren’t having sex you always wanted to take a shower as well.’
He laughed. ‘What? I like to be clean.’
‘I guess that’s fair enough. Though your shower with the curtain was quite frightening.’
‘Yeah, your tiny shower in college was much better.’
‘Agreed.’ We sat drinking in silence for a moment. ‘So does you having two girlfriends mean we can’t shower together then?’ He laughed. I smiled and sipped my drink. ‘Just kidding … But not really … Or am I?’ I said, turning to him and raising my eyebrow. He laughed harder and put his arm around me, kissing me on the cheek again.
‘God I’ve missed you.’ He said, resting his head on mine.
‘I miss you too. Let’s not go two years without seeing each other ever again.’
‘Deal.’ He said, squeezing me close to him. He looked down at his watch. ‘We need to head to this party soon.’
‘Okay.’ I said, taking my last sip.
We stepped out into the brisk London air and I watched as Dane outstretched his long arm to hail a cab. ‘Shall we?’ He asked, looking down on me as the cab pulled up.
‘I don’t think I ever realised just how much you dwarf me.’
He laughed and ushered me into the cab. ‘It’s not as if I’ve grown, you know.’
‘Hmm.’ I said, settling in. ‘Maybe I’m wearing shorter heels.’ I looked down. ‘No, actually I don’t think that’s it. These make me a fair bit taller.’
‘Great story.’ Dane said, straight-faced. I punched him and he started laughing. ‘Ow!’ He said, still laughing.
We laughed all the way to the party, and as I knew no one where we were going we played the pseudo-couple and he paraded me around, introducing me to everyone. It turned out that I knew almost everyone through one or two degrees of separation and we had a wonderful time. It was getting nearer to the end of the night and I decided that I should leave. Alone. Before I decided otherwise.
‘Well, my love,’ I said, turning to face Dane, ‘I think I’m going to head.’
‘Okay.’ He said, placing his hand on my shoulders.
‘Great to see you.’
‘And you.’ He said, staring at me the way he use to before he would kiss me.
‘What are you doing for the weekend?’
He looked up and pursed his lips for a moment. ‘I don’t know. Nothing I suppose.’
‘My parents are having a Christmas party at theirs tomorrow, would you like to come? My mum would love to see you.’
He thought for a moment. ‘Sure! Why not?’
‘Great!’ I said over-enthusiastically.
‘What time is the party?’
‘I was going to leave London around five?’ I said as a question for no reason.
‘Shall we catch the train together?’
‘We shall. I’ll call you in the morning.’
‘Can’t wait.’ His hands were still on my shoulders, presumably so that he could do what he did next, which was hold me in place whilst he leaned down to kiss me.
‘Goodbye.’ I said, smiling.
‘Bye.’ He said, smiling his big, goofy grin.
I walked out and as I sat on the train, rocking with it methodically back and forth I had one thought. Well, shit.
I hadn’t wanted to go home with him because clearly the last thing he needed was more drama, but at the same time there was no change in my feelings for him. I smiled to myself at the thought of our weekend plans together.
Next Time: Dane and S@O Underneath the Mistletoe