2005 started out poorly as far as getting any action was concerned. The New Year began at a party in the Forest, where I attempted conversation with a hot boy who couldn’t have been less interested in my existence, and I got excited because I got a hug from someone I’d had a crush on for years. Then I realised he was hugging everyone because it was New Year. The first month continued in this tedious fashion, and I hoped that it wasn’t an omen for the whole of the year. I was suffering from the curse of January, I realised. But goddammit, I wasn’t going to let it win.
I whined my way through January even though I didn’t really have much to complain about; by the time I broke the curse, it had only been about a month since #128 had visited me in Belfast for a night and we’d gotten off in some boy’s single bed while he was out of town for Christmas. I was in Belfast again when I met #147. I’d recently encountered him on a message board. The fact that I’d shown up on it talking about Jawbreaker and Lynched and zines was kind of a niche thing; there aren’t so many of us out there, at least not in my part of the world, so we were both interested in meeting up. #147 showed up to my friend’s club night and we traded zines, compared tattoos, showed each other our scars. “Flying monkey attack,” he explained of his, which I didn’t question, already drunk. “This is where I make a pass at you,” I said, which didn’t surprise him because he’d already flicked through If Destroyed Still True #1 and knew what to expect from me. There was a pause, then he leaned over and kissed me, just for a moment. We spent the night on the leather sofa at my friends’ place; it was uncomfortable and smelled disturbingly like Vaseline, but I was really goddamn happy to spend time with him, and not merely because I’d broken January. I liked him. Everyone at my mother’s surprise birthday party was too polite to ask how I got those marks on my neck, and after that I was getting e-mails that made me feel like a crushed-out twelve-year-old.
I was back in Belfast about six weeks later, and went to a gig that #147 had organised. I was nervous, but he said it was great to see me again. I sat at the door with him and sold some zines. I didn’t know if we were getting off again and I didn’t know how to make it happen, but when I leaned over to ask him a question he kissed me out of the blue. He lived with his parents, so he asked me about spending the night somewhere, and I cleared it with the friends we’d crashed with before, but it didn’t turn out that easy.
Basically, he changed his mind. He said he was uncomfortable with the prospect of going back to someone else’s place purely to get off with me, even though they weren’t bothered. This was frustrating enough, but on top of that, #147 had previously played in a band with #115, who was surprised to see us together at the gig. It had been four years since our relationship, and I knew he’d been more into it than I had, but still, four years seemed like a long enough gap. I didn’t want him to feel bad, but I also didn’t consider him my responsibility, not after so much time had elapsed. #147 took this to mean that I didn’t care, and revoked his decision to spend the night with me. I retired to the uncomfortable leather sofa on my own, and cried a bit, and felt stupid for crying, and stayed awake for hours trying to pep-talk myself out of feeling bad.
We talked it out a bit via email, but things didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. He seemed to see my reaction to #115 as indicative of the limitations of non-monogamy, which was odd since #115 and I had broken up long ago; the fact that I was seeing #116 and #148 in Edinburgh, on the other hand, didn’t, to my knowledge, bother him. I felt bad and I felt confused. Our correspondence seemed to dry up, and I assumed he’d lost interest and that I wouldn’t hear from him again, so I focused on processing that. Then one day, I got a package in the mail from him. Three mix CDs and a mix tape, with accompanying documentation on the formative experiences evoked by the music: just how mixes should be. Plus a letter in which he apologised for his behaviour last time we’d met.
But nothing happened with #147 after that. When I was back in town, I’d make it clear that I was in Belfast for one night only. He’d say he’d call me and then he wouldn’t, or I’d get a message inviting me to meet up on a different night. My mother was ill and I was over to visit her and that meant I wasn’t going to go tearing into the city again just because a boy I liked had finally made himself available. My head was feeling fucked up, and I reminded myself constantly that it was probably for the best that I wasn’t getting to see him anyway. Although it frustrated the hell out of me, I’m still glad that I never compromised. Yeah, my self-esteem would’ve wavered a bit if I’d backtracked and gone along with his plans rather than mine, but most of all, I’m relieved that I spent as much time as possible with my mum in the last months of her life. I banished #147 to the back of my mind, or as close to it as I could manage. I knew what the bigger picture was.
“#147 in ‘unreliable’ shocker!” quipped a friend of mine. It was a week after my mum’s death and we were at the Funeral Diner gig and I’d just finished telling him, belatedly, of the whole #147 saga. And I guess that closed the chapter.