Saturday, 29 March 2014

I don't know where to put you

I'd been wanting to see them live since first hearing the album back in 2010. 

They'd been the accompaniment to my final months of travelling; me, my now Ex, and our ever present soundtrack of the same songs, in the same order, wherever we went.

Now the gig had finished, and our sentences were glazed with that post-live music wonderment - you know, when the encore's done, the lights go up and you walk out, down the stairs, onto the street and all you can say is oh, I loved that, that was so good.

"How did you hear about them?" my friend asked, and I told her how he'd been all over this stuff, we constantly listened to music, stayed up til 6am dancing to it - this was what we did.

"Have you talked to him lately?" she said, because we live in the same area and, for a time, I seemed to bump into him every time I left the house.

"Not for ages," I replied, "Not since he was walking outside my old flat last year and I saw him, then completely forgot my housemate's name."

"But it's weird." I continued, as we walked among the throng of people heading to the nearest station, "usually I'll wonder how he is, and then he'll cycle past me at the bus stop or something."

"Alright, so you know he's still got legs. That's cool." and we laughed and I said, "Ha, yeah. I've been thinking about him a lot lately, just hoping he's ok. But I suppose you always do, don't you."

We got to the station and split up, her to go underground and me over. It was five minutes later when I was faced with a closed line, forced to retrace my steps back over the road and take a different route - such is the reliability of the London transport system.

As I placed my Oyster card on the reader and stepped through the barrier, at that precise moment and time at the overly busy station, some hair caught my eye, then trainers, then my brain pieced together all the different characteristics of this person in front of me.

And even though he hadn't turned around yet, I called his name because it was definitely him.

"Hello," I said, and I can't remember if we hugged.
"Hello" he replied, "how are you?"
"This is weird, that you're here", and of course he'd been to the same gig.

Then we walked down the escalator, onto the same tube, where we placed ourselves by the doors on one side of the carriage and his friends on the other, sometimes glancing our way.

There we stood as the tube rattled from one side of London to the other, catching up, carefully skirting topics, asking after people and family and jobs and travels; vaguely referencing a time we can't talk about here, like this; occasional silences where we looked at each other, smiled a bit and didn't know what to say next.

We reached the barriers at the other side and he hung back, waiting for his friends so they could get food.

We hugged. A goodbye, a good to see you, a quick, distant utterance of I'll text you or something and a Yeah, do thrown over my shoulder in case I'd misheard, or hadn't, and then I walked up towards the concourse at Liverpool Street Station.


Days later, the chance meeting sticks in my mind.

He's back there in my head, of course, because he always is anyway. It's fate, or chance, or I could bump into him at any time or place and it would seem as though I'd always just thought of him that moment.

With this one, there's no box to put him in. I don't know where he's meant to go. Everything fits, and nothing does at all.

He's just there, and, as long as we live in the same city, on the same road, and listen to the same music, I suppose he always will be.


Exile on Pain Street said...

If he lived in a different city, on a different road, he'd still be there.

London-Lass said...

How odd!

If my mum were reading your blog she'd no doubt cluck (in pointed fashion) : "Someone up there is trying to tell you something". I, on the other hand, would not say anything like that.

Anonymous said...

I know this risks pissing you off, but I feel bad for you - you've been apart for over three years, which was considerably longer than you were together - it shouldn't hurt this much by now. To an outsider it looks like you're placing him on a pedestal, almost as if he's more important than you.

I am a bit older than you; I implore you not to turn into my thirty-something and forty-something acquaintances who had their hearts broken in their 20s and are still single, still holding a candle for the arse who messed them around.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Anon - whenever I publish on this blog I always have to remember that I'm writing to people who may have read one post, or 300. I have no way of knowing which category you fall into, but either way, each post - whether it's one day since the last post or one month - is still just a tiny snapshot of my life.

So you'll forgive any defensiveness - but it's just when people make quite in depth assumptions about my life, how I should feel, and the future I'm unknowingly carving for myself as a result of the choices I make (and do so anonymously) based on what's written here, it can be a little frustrating.

Alas, that's what personal bloggers sign up for, and it doesn't happen often enough to be an issue.

But I admit, before posting this post in particular, I was wary of pressing publish because I suspected that some readers would think "god, it's been three years, get over him already." - because blimey, no one knows or thinks that more than me.

But for the last three years I have been single, and in that time I have dated, been in and out of touch with my ex, had mini relationships, odd dalliances, one of them I've written about but most I haven't, but as yet I haven't fallen in love and called someone my boyfriend.

This is a fairly common story for most of my 20-30 something friends in London, so I'm not too worried and think that's probably more down to lifestyle choice more than anything - when you've been single for a while the need for a relationship lessens, not grows in my experience.

But yes, I think about the last person I loved, and seeing them can - albeit temporarily (two weeks on and I feel fine about it all) - throw you into a regretful, wistful spin. And that's usually when I'll write a blog post instead of boring my mates about it.

But I'm fine, I promise.

Please don't feel bad for us - the singles, your friends, me - we might wonder how our ex boyfriends are, even hanker after a love we once had and haven't found again yet - but I hear that when the "right one comes along", we'll get over it.

And I suspect that will be the case for me.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Exile - Oh, I think you're right. They're always there somewhere, aren't they?

London lass - Yeah, there's fate, but then there's often just London being a small place for its size...

Anonymous said...

I've been reading you on and off since 2006. I don't want my own arsehole ex to start on me again via a comment on a third party blog, so Anon is the only option open to me.

My comment obviously did piss you off, but was sent with the kindest of intentions, and I believe I would have said the same things were I single, coupled, married or divorced. He did the dirty on you big time: I wish you could hate him rather than holding him up as the template to which future boyfriends must conform.

In the weird way that the internet works, I just want you to be happier, and I'm not saying you have to be in a relationship to be happy, just that the continues focus on The Boy seems to make you less so.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

You assumed I'd be pissed off even before I'd commented, so I could never have won there, and you're also assuming that I would be happier if I didn't focus on my ex so much. Which I don't, in real life or on my blog (my last post about him specifically was 2012).

I think anyone in my position - having to defend themselves, their life, their happiness - would find your comments frustrating, no matter your intentions otherwise.

If you're putting my failure to get another boyfriend down to me being hung up on my ex, then you really don't know me at all. And I'm ok with that, because that's exactly how I want it.

But I'm not sure there's much I can add to make you change your mind on either count, that I'm pissed off, that I'm unhappy, that I am continually focused on my ex - so let's leave it here.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's just about being in the same city, although that clearly means more chance meetups than if it were different.

What you said about him being in your head really struck a chord, I've felt this with chance meetings with people that really were quite chance, if they are in you head and there anyway they don't seem surprising. They won't until that person burrows away out of your consciousness. Whether someone like that ever actually leaves I haven't figured out yet.

Thanks for this food for though.


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