And the more he looks and the more I look, the more I’m drawn in. There’s just something about him, possibly his smile, maybe just the way he's looking at me? Like he knows something, or that he has something to tell me.
Although it could be the five cans of Red-Stripe I've downed since 10.30.
It’s amazing how being given a time limit allows for a heightened level of honesty. Give a couple twenty four hours, tell them it’s all they can have and that they may never see one another again and they’ll reach levels of intimacy, reveal secrets untold and bond on a level that would take years for the usual dating couple. Holiday romances are intense and insane.
For my part, my previous relationship had seen me live with a man emotionally scarred by his upbringing who left me physically scarred from our year together. James was fun. Madcap, irresponsible, childlike fun. I’d met him in Heaven in Charing Cross, upstairs in the Star Bar, music blaring from speakers taller than I was, making the glasses dance on the bar. A crazy, funky, wired crowd of people shaking out a week’s worth of tension on the dance floor. Girls in Bras and miniskirts, muscled and oiled go-go dancers in hotpants and on podiums, their heeled boots level with the crowd’s heads, smoke machine pumping dry ice so that lasers bounced off clouds into the faces of the horde. The smell was hedonism itself, alcohol, sweat, perfume, sugary lollipops, cigarettes and the obligatory amyl nitrate. I’d stood against the wall to catch my breath, turned and seen James sat amongst a group of friends, grinning at me – he patted his knee for me to take a seat. Who was I to turn him down?
and irreverent he was the impulsive wild card in the night out. But his smile hid his insecurities.
Shy and uncomfortable around people he didn’t know James needed a crutch to see him through social situations; always socially acceptable, alcohol was the obvious crutch of choice. Once on the road to inebriation, James was able to put on his smile and believe his own hype.To be fair to James, neither of us were great communicators and we both had a heightened sense of drama. And of course, I liked my drink too. Our fights ranged from screaming at each
other at 3.00am on Oxford Street to throwing glasses and punches at one another in Turkey, the latter earning me a trip to the Turkish hospital in the middle of the night and once the offending glass was removed, stitches to the back of my head. James being caught in flagrante at a friend’s
house a month later while I was out of town should have been the last straw, but no. It took his abuse of my friends at our New Year’s Eve party to make me see sense. My Mum, sisters and friends were all gathered to hear him finally scream “Get that fat bitch off my bed and out of my room so I can get some fucking sleep, you selfish cunt!”
I hadn’t minded our domestics when they were private or at least when I was able to present them to my friends in a manner that stopped me looking like an idiot for staying with him, but under such close scrutiny, my decision was made for me. Drama Queen that I was, I seized the opportunity for maximum effect and left on New Year’s Day.
I’d like to say that that was the end of my relationship with James, but he was devastated and likewise I couldn’t let go. We strung one another along for months afterwards with the possibility of getting back together, with James seeking help and doing his best to change, but with a therapist who suggested he had done nothing wrong in throwing a glass at my head or sleeping with a stranger in front of my friends and with an inability to confront my own relationship demons, the efforts to start over again soon fizzled into non-existence with the pair of us not even talking. It left us both emotionally raw for a long time afterwards, and yet positively I suppose with hindsight, it made me look at how I behaved in relationships. I felt guilty for my needy, spoilt and dramatic behaviour, unsure of having done the right thing in leaving and denying him the support he needed to get better, let alone the opportunity for him to prove that he could. Two years later, I was still deeply saddened by the fact that we, that I, had failed.
And that was that: With no thought of seeing him again and yet with a tiny Australian seed embedded in the recesses of my mind, I decided to hold onto that night as a gorgeous moment of bonding with another person; something that I’d always cherish, if never repeat.
Little did I know that I’d find other reasons to venture to the other side of the world.