Monday, 19 January 2009

Keep your receipt

To anyone else, the scraps of paper I found in the pockets and folds of my wallet the other day would only be fit for the rubbish bin.

In fact, it's only because I was looking for something else completely that I found and read them instead of crumpling the bits into a ball and chucking it all away.

That's the thing with wallets, they collect things. Unfortunately not money a lot of the time, but little bits and pieces that we pick up and find again once every few months when you're turning your bag inside out looking for that prescription / fiver / card that you know you had the other day.

So there they were in front of me, crumpled and folded, two receipts with completely conflicting memories attached.

The first one was from the Health Spa we went to for our birthdays; the ink fading fast but the price and date still visible. It had seemed so important to me that we went away together that weekend. I could feel things falling apart and I felt it could be an aid to remembering why we were together, to get us back on track. It was an amazing weekend, perfect in every way, away from everything, just me and him.

According to the next slip of paper, just over 2 weeks later we went for a meal in an Italian restaurant on Wandsworth Bridge Road. It cost £25.80 and we left at 21:29, having spent an hour or so talking and laughing; me showing him texts on my old phone from when we first got together and joking "look at all the kisses I got at the end of messages back then! bah!". Then we wondered back to his house where I got ready to drive back home, but in private, something had changed. He wouldn't hug me goodbye; a reluctance to have close contact with me. In my mind, he was being selfish; I was tired and had a 40minute drive home and all he wanted to do was show me videos on his computer.

I got frustrated and went to his front door, where he eventually followed me and gave me the sort of hug you'd give a leper; hands in pockets, head lightly resting on my shoulder for a couple of seconds. I remember saying something like "Why can't you act like you love me?" which in hindsight seems a strange thing to have said. It elicited a shrug, so I went to my car, got in and started the engine. He walked towards it and my heart leapt for a split second; he was going to open the car door and apologise, kiss me, anything - but instead he began motioning that I had plenty of space to reverse. I sped off, angry, hurt and confused.

The next day I wrote this.

"Please keep this receipt for your records" it says at the bottom of both receipts. What if your records aren't merely financial? I'd almost forgotten about this night, and here was a little bit of paper reminding me. There's no record of the talk a few days later, the awful next day, the final break up.

But that receipt, that's from the night I was still in a relationship and he was just being an arse. We weren't going to break up, we'd just had an amazing weekend together. This was just another one of those things we'd shove under the carpet. That receipt's date stamp is from when he was still the one I was going to be with til I was old and grey, there were just things we had to get through first.

And just like that - two bits of paper with nothing on them but numbers had a different kind of value, so I folded them up again and put them back. I'm not entirely sure why.


pink jellybaby said...

Oh, this broke my heart a little bit... I know the feeling well... After a year being with my ex, something made me say one day "but you still love me, right?" which his shock answer was "I'm not sure I do".
We always know, deep down, somewhere.
It's good to have memories though, I guess.
Chin Up xxx

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

Ah yes, I had a similar moment to that... I had a rant, then finished off with "I need to know we're on the same page" to which the reply was, "That's just it, I don't think we are". Ouch.

pink jellybaby said...

sucker punch.... the plus side is, I can certainly tell you that things get better! :)

James said...

Bin the receipts... bin them!

Elaine said...

I can't give you any advice. I keep it all.

Anonymous said...

Touching post. I wish I didn't know about those random reminders that pop up and...well, remind you of stuff that's best forgotten.

Course, I say 'best forgotten' because I believe if it's in the past, it's better left there. BIN THE RECEIPTS.

I'd give you a hug, but we hardly know each other, so I'll just shake your hand instead.

Anonymous said...

I keep it all too. It stings like barbed wire on skin, but it's as if you can't stop revisiting it - like a wound you have to prod.

Maybe one day, it won't hurt anymore. But it'll still make you smile, and that's what matters.

I have a reciept stuck to my pinboard in my parents' house. It's so old that the words have faded, but I still know what they say. It's from about 14.45 in 2002/2003 in Kwik Save.

I got really stoned with my friends from college, and before I got the bus home I wandered into Kwik Save, desperately seeking cake. The only thing I bought was "Fruit Pies". But in the very small shop, I got lost and couldn't find the way out!

Huw said...

Cripes, that was a touching post, plus the referral to the instincts post. If I wasn't such a bloody bloke who likes football, beer and shagging and who doesn't give two hoots about any of his exes, I'd maybe admit I got the tiniest sensation of a lump to the throat there.


Mouldy-Old-Tartlet said...

I'm a binner not a hoarder but I can empathise as even us binners sometimes come unstuck. I remember once finding a receipt at the bottom of an old handbag and immediately ripping it up in a receipt shredding frenzy. I'd rather have no reminders but understand those that do.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it horrible when a memory leaps out of nowhere and bites you on the nose? These sorts of things still happen to me years after my relationships have died. I came across an old diary when I moved house. I had hidden it inside a ring binder and forgotten. It detailed the childish love shared by me and my first longterm boyfriend and I felt very strange thinking back to then and how it was all gone now.

I can really relate to how you look back at this relationship. I was the same with Beardy. I think of it now, and all the times I tried to save our relationship by taking us away from the everyday, by drawing attention to our shared memories and the good times that we had had, and it feels very odd that I had to go to those lengths to find a rapport. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had walked away sooner and I question why I didn't realise that asking him if he still loved me (with a right? on the end) actually didn't need an answer. Relationships take effort, they take work on both sides, but if one doubts the other's love or if you're harking back to past memories rather than focusing on making new ones to add to those past memories, it's time to let go.

That doesn't make it any easier to do, it doesn't mean it won't be a tremendously upsetting and painful life experience.

To lighten this comment up a bit, I decided to clear out my wallet in the same way: an extortionate bill for a hair cut and colour, a receipt for the stupid deer stalker hat my sis and I bought for my Dad for Christmas, a dozen assorted donuts from Krispy Kreme (drive through at New Malden, I didn't even spend any calories getting out the car and walking to the counter!!) and a vet bill for £100 for Polly's tumour removal op.


جبهة التهييس الشعبية said...

Happy new Obama,
He has to see this

He has to see Holocaust survivors

We will not go down without a fight

Rol said...

That was a really touching post, really well written... and I hope that in writing it, you were able to put it out of your mind.

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

Thank you everyone, I'll reply properly later but just flying past to say as always your comments are making sense, making me laugh, and making me go 'ahhh, that's better' now I've got it all out of my system. Apart from that weird Islamic Anti Obama one. That's just a bit mental. Bloody extremists, can't take 'em anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved this piece. It was sad but kind of magical too.

I have kept the receipt from the last meal out I had with Tracy - the one where we were so immersed in stuff that we forgot to leave a tip despite the fact that the poor staff kept the restaurant open way past closing time just for us, cos we spent more time crying than eating. It used to make me feel sad looking at the receipt, now I just feel extreme guilt about the tip.

nuttycow said...

I keep receipts. I have one from one of our first dates. I have one from the Christmas presents I bought last year. I have articles that I've ripped out and keep forgetting to give him. I'm lucky though. I still can. I'm sorry that it's all a bit pear shaped at the moment but (at the risk of sounding like a New Labour party political broadcast) things can only get better.

Chin up.

Emsbabee said...

Just when you think it's starting to get easier...keep the reminders for as long as you need though. Because one day you won't need them any more, and that day will feel pretty damn good I'm sure.


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