And now we’re into 2004: March 2004, when I’d finally moved out from #117‘s place and into a flat with the Hip Hop Lawyer down the road. I felt messy and emotional, but I was trying to look capable and avoid burdening other people with the details. I had my own life again and I had to shake off the co-dependency that had come to define my relationship with #117 – it felt overwhelming to begin with. I had all this free time which was no longer spent crying or processing or hiding from problems. I’d said goodbye to my social life when I was with #117, and the confidence I’d managed to build up since the teen angst years had been eroded. I used to know a lot of people in Edinburgh, but while I’d been sidetracked over the past two and a half years, I’d lost touch with most of them, and some had left town. They felt like remnants of a past life that was too long ago for me to connect with.
I met #119 only a couple of weeks into my new circumstances. I’d noticed him and his piercings and his punk rock vibe in the Auld Hoose, which was otherwise populated by goths. He spoke to me; we identified common interests, and spent the remainder of the evening drinking together. We went for chips and then back to my flat for a cup of tea: real tea, with no agenda. He left in the small hours of the morning, gave me a kiss on the cheek.
I was excited to have met someone so unexpectedly, and after a day or two of analysing how I felt about it, developed a crush on him that made me feel like I was twelve years old. I knew it was probably a rebound crush and that I should pace myself, but he seemed pretty cool, and it made for a marvellous distraction from recent dramas. I don’t think I harboured notions of running away into the sunset with him or anything. I just enjoyed the crush in all its ridiculousness. One time, I went to an internet cafe and started typing a memo to my imaginary internet friends about the latest non-development. #119 suddenly sat down at the computer next to mine, and I imagine I had a comedy look of panic on my face as I tried to nonchalantly navigate away from the evidence. He was all cool and collected. I lost the powers of speech. My imaginary internet friends did not seem to share my utter amazement at the coincidence.
We’d been talking about going for a pint, and it somehow became distorted until the plan was to meet for dinner in a fancy French restaurant. I didn’t know if it was a date or not. Dates continued to strike me as an American concept, and their significance intimidated me. (Still the case.) I was too nervous to even eat lunch that day; my stomach was churning too much. He’d said eight-ish for the meal; I turned up around eight and he finally showed at eight forty-five. I spent the interim drinking wine, which failed to calm my nerves, re-reading Valencia by Michelle Tea, and trying to look like I hadn’t been stood up. The food we ordered was fantastic, but I still couldn’t eat it, and it was blatantly obvious that something was up with me. In one of my less suave moments, I confessed that I was nervous because I liked him. I figured there was no point in pretending I was fine if I clearly wasn’t.
“Aw,” he said. “You’re lovely.”
I did not want to be lovely.
We went for drinks after dinner, and I started to relax and behave a bit more like my former self. He was talking about not wanting commitment, and not wanting to mess with my head seeing as I was fresh out of a long-term relationship. I assured him that I could take care of my own head. And then finally I told him I’d really like to kiss him, and that was okay, and we did, and he tasted like cigarettes and alcohol, a taste I’d missed, and we made out for a pleasant length of time.
I wanted him to come back to my place for a while, and he wasn’t prepared to unless he was going to spend the night. I wasn’t too into that – I knew I needed to take things slowly – but I agreed because otherwise he wouldn’t come back at all. In other words, it was not the most empowering decision I’d ever made, but it wasn’t a big deal and we didn’t do much beyond more making out. We made out on a beanbag while listening to Patsy Cline, and then we slept on the floor, because I wasn’t willing to share a single bed like I used to in my student days. The Hip Hop Lawyer had told me he could replace my single bed with a double, and I’d declined because I figured it would be a long time before anyone else appeared on the scene. I liked being proven wrong so quickly, but I had an uncomfortable, sleepless night. In the morning, I felt awkward. More than anything, I was afraid of him assuming I was needy. I did not feel needy. But in order to communicate this, I felt like I had to hold back a little, which didn’t feel right.
Also, I didn’t feel twelve any more. I felt about fifteen.
No further plans were made instantly, but then he invited me to the cinema. I decided to skip it, because that was the kind of environment that used to set off my panic attacks, and I knew I would feel nervous there with him. I congratulated myself for not putting myself into that situation just for the sake of seeing him. I went to Italy for work, and after that he was due to go back to the States, so he called round to my place late one night, the only chance we had to see each other for a while. Nothing happened between us; he didn’t make a move, and I decided I wasn’t going to. We had another brief encounter a month or so later, when we went to #98‘s James Bondage party, but that was about it. I guess I kind of lost interest, and I don’t think he was ever really that interested in me, so it was okay.