When Ellie Glitch and I walked in to the party, somewhere in rural Wales, I instantly experienced a moment of panic: everyone was gathered together in a drumming circle. I already knew it was going to be a hippie party, though, so I composed myself, sat down, and tried not to be terrified by the small child that had immediately started crawling on me.
I figured that, given the tone of the evening, I wasn’t going to get any action. I’d resigned myself to this (mylifeissohard), and I was planning on just meeting nice people and drinking myself silly.
We have learned by now, of course, that such certainty generally gets filed under ‘foreshadowing’. When #188 showed up, how long did it take me to figure out the night wasn’t going to be what I expected? He had hippie sensibilities without the hippie look; he lived on a boat, worked as a carpenter, and played guitar well. We chatted for a while, and then we ventured down to the kitchen together, ostensibly to explore, leaving everybody else immersed in their jam session. As soon as we reached the foot of the stairs it turned out we’d both had the same idea.
I know it’s a cop-out when I say things like “god it was hot” and leave it at that, but tough.
Fast forward to more than a year later. La Glitch had moved to the north of Wales, and I was hanging out at her place, chilling the fuck out and coming back down to earth after all the free alcohol I’d managed to imbibe at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the (non-)thing with #232. She was living in this amazing rural idyll, in a converted church. We’d get up and she’d go work in her studio and I’d do some copyediting and then later we’d take the dogs for a walk or something, and then we’d drink red wine and cook something, and it was all really mellow and low-key, a completely different pace of life. I’d go live there right now if I wasn’t concerned that I’d never get any action.
Except I got action there anyway, because I contacted #188 and let him know I was back in Wales, albeit a completely different part, just in case he’d like to meet up. He would. La Glitch was heading to a festival, and I was leaving Wales the following day, so we had the place to ourselves.
He drove for seven hours to see me and, waiting for him to arrive, I would’ve chain-smoked like hell had I still been a smoker. I kind of wanted to backtrack. I wanted to avoid the assumption that we were going to get off even though it had been the general idea in the first place and I knew I would likely feel fine about it once he showed up. Such is my fear of commitment that even this meeting felt daunting; maybe it’s another reason why I tend to favour the spontaneous, one-off encounter. We had awkward conversation when he got to the house, went for a wander, had some pub food. I kissed him on the way home. I think the rain was starting.
Sometimes I don’t want that first kiss because it feels too goddamn scripted, but after you get on with it, things are okay.
We were making out in the living-room when I suddenly considered that maybe I should’ve locked the front door. Just as the thought hit me, I heard the door open and a voice calling “Hello?” We had two seconds to retrieve the clothing we’d shed, before Tom, a local character, walked in. I guess he was too drunk to notice that my t-shirt was both inside out and back to front. Although I’d been around for little more than a week, I was already fond of Tom. He kept coming out with non-sequiturs, like everything was a private joke between him and his brain. He sat with us for a few minutes and then talked #188 into giving him a lift home. It was a full-blown rainstorm by now.
The night progressed. I did feel uncomfortable for part of the time; I’d let #188 know from the beginning that sex wasn’t really on the cards, and okay, people get frustrated, and he’s a nice person who generally respects boundaries, but I didn’t want to hear about how frustrated he was at such regular intervals. He was nothing like #117, but it felt broadly similar, feeling like I was a bad person for not going as far as he wanted. It’s something I still feel is problematic when I look back on that night. At the same time, it ultimately wasn’t a huge big deal, so I still don’t know how to talk about it appropriately, or whether I even need to anyway.
In the morning I made us breakfast and then he drove me to the train station. I spent a week in Manchester with #184 and his boyfriend, tried to stop being so goddamn grumpy about #150 and #187, and then, for good measure, I made a drunken, failed pass at #128 just to confirm that it wasn’t 2005 any more.