London, Ontario felt kind of weird to me. I kept seeing steam rising from the grates at the side of the road, and everywhere we went crazy people would show up and say hello to #56. She took it in her stride every time. “Hello sir, how are you today?” she’d answer, and then they’d launch into some fantastical story, and sometimes it took me a while to ascertain that she didn’t actually know the person.
I think it was only a night after #55 had left town, and #56 and I were out drinking. There was this whole drama in a bar we went to, with a girl who was passed out and nothing would wake her up, and this dealer with an unnerving grin who shrugged it off: “date rape drug”, and then a statement to the police after he and his friends had taken her away in a car, and me swigging from my bottle of cider on the street. I had the dealer’s friend’s full name, that was the best I could do. I look back and I still wonder what happened, but we were in it together, we made the best choices we could.
#56 walked me back to my host’s place, her best friend, Jen (who years later, completely unrelated to me and simply through the magic powers of the internet, became friends with #42). We sat outside on the porch in the quiet street, rehashing the night’s events, until she finally said, “Okay, I really want to kiss you right now.”
I was with her the next night as well, curled up on Jen’s sofa watching MuchMusic late into the night, until we went to sleep in separate rooms. Jen lived with her parents and we weren’t sure whether it would be okay if they saw us together like that.
The next morning, I took the bus back to Toronto. I dreaded saying goodbye; I insisted on getting a taxi by myself to the bus station, so that we wouldn’t all stand around there feeling awkward. I felt really emotional, and my nerves kicked in so I couldn’t eat and I felt nauseous. By the time I reached my destination, I was in bits.
#44 advised me that I should just change my plans. I was supposed to fly to Minnesota a day or two later, and if I felt this way about #56 I should just ditch that, lose the money, go back to London, and see where it took me. But I couldn’t. I figured I needed to keep moving on.
#56 and Jen came to Scotland a year later: Jen was on holiday but #56 was going to stick around. My short-lived relationship with #67 began right before they arrived. I had always expected that when #56 showed up, I would be single and we would have the opportunity to see how things went. I was counting the days till she got here, wondering what was going to happen. Things were obviously going nowhere with #67, even if he was hot and fun to get off with. I was out drinking and having adventures every night. It was summer term and life was in Technicolor.
After I’d split up with #67, after we’d delivered Jen to the airport in Glasgow, #56 and I went to a party on a rooftop in Forrest Road. Crossing Bristo Square to get back to my place late at night or early in the morning, I kissed her. But when we reached my flat, she slept on the floor like she’d been doing throughout her visit. I think that after everything, we both knew we weren’t right for each other.