#128 was in a long-distance relationship, and she was supposed to be monogamous. Her relationship was in many ways much like mine had been with #117. It hurt to see #128 going through the same turmoil, trying again and again to make things right with her boyfriend and being disappointed at every turn. I wanted her to feel the happiness that I was experiencing now that my own relationship of doom was over. I could see what was happening, and to some degree she did too, but she had fallen into the train of thought that says: you made this choice long ago; you can’t go back on it now; it’s better for you to be unhappy than for him to be unhappy.
But also, they were mostly apart. I was always attracted to her, but I didn’t want to get in the way of things. So when it started with the mutual lunge, hugging in a queer indie club in Dublin, I felt kind of giddy that she’d chosen me. She was beautiful, hilarious, and intimidatingly smart. (She also kicked off my ongoing tradition of losing earrings to hot lesbionic action.)
My relationships with women are often characterised by distance, adventures, and not being called relationships. “Is this your girlfriend?” someone asked one time when I was back over in Dublin. “This weekend she is,” I answered, and hoped she agreed with that diagnosis. If only she and I lived in the same city, I thought, maybe we’d have a real chance.
But the bizarre love triangle was an ongoing thing. Her and me and #129. They weren’t really that far away, and there was the internet, where we’d all originally met. We even sent letters and photos the way old-school people do. #128 was a delight to be with. And yet, I got so sidetracked by #129, who I saw more often, with whom I bonded in a different way. I wanted #128 to be the one for me, and she wasn’t.
Eventually she broke free from her relationship of doom, and began a new life in Berlin.
By the time I visited her there, she was involved with #141. They’d been together for a while, and I had been waking up to the fact that it was a very big deal, but I wasn’t totally prepared to see them together, and it was all compounded by the fact that I was newly bereaved and kind of a mess. We muddled through my stay. It had its moments, but I didn’t make it easy for her.
Later, I visited her in Dublin again; later still, we spent a quick evening together making out in #110’s bar in Edinburgh when she was passing through – I wanted to drag her into the toilets for sex, but figured being thrown out by one of my best friends might strain our relationship somewhat.
I got monogamous after that, and I think she and #141 did too. We learned to adapt, to be platonic together.
While things were good with #182, I had no issues. When things eventually started to strain, I looked at #128 and #141 and wished my relationship was as perfect as theirs. It was sometimes hard to separate out whether I wanted someone I had as much in common with as they did with each other, or whether I wanted #128. But I was facing up to the fact that #141 really was much more suited to #128 than I was, and that they were happy – so happy, in fact, after the pain #128 had previously gone through, that you could only be delighted for them, unless of course you were totally self-obsessed and bitter. I tried not to be self-obsessed and bitter.
The last time I saw them was at their civil partnership ceremony. I’d been planning to hitch-hike there with #184, but he wound up in hospital so I got the bus by myself; no guest to accompany me. A couple of days previously, I had experienced a romantic disaster with #204. I felt raw and mopey and I knew my reaction was way out of proportion, but all I could manage was some damage limitation. I reflected that I didn’t really want to get civilised to anybody, but I kind of wanted someone to not do it with. I didn’t want to turn up with a load of emotional baggage, I wanted to join in the celebration. I took myself out of the hall occasionally and went to sit by myself in the gardens, relieved that I could do that without attracting attention or undue concern.