When I left for Uni I had a hand-me-down computer that was running Windows 95 and had a dial up modem, although it was 2003 broadband hadn’t quite taken off yet, it was very much a premium service. It’s odd how much has changed in such a short time. I think I probably switched it on maybe a total of three maybe four times during my whole first year at Uni. I had transformed from someone who enjoyed being online blogging, chatting and keeping in touch with people via the internet to living more in the here in now. It was just easier that way, but harder to stay in touch with people back home.
I wanted to make friends, my first two weeks at Uni were very social, and I still kept in touch with Katy every day. I wanted her to know that just because I had moved away that I hadn’t forgot about her or what we had, in some ways I just wanted her to feel a part of it. Something had changed though, I couldn’t figure out why.
Every time I would meet someone new, or go out for an evening I was questioned relentlessly. I remember in those first couple of weeks meeting so many different people, some that I never saw again and others that became friends of more significance. Katy would be on the phone to me every night wanting to know every possible detail, eventually I spotted a pattern to the questions. Her main interest seemed to be if I happened to be making other gay friends.
Eventually I did make some gay friends at Uni, it didn’t take long since I went along to a meet and greet with the LGBT society, they met at the local student union bar and then moved on to the local gay bars one by one throughout the evening. That’s when I met Chris, my soon to be new gay best friend… Chris and a number of other people were shocked that I didn’t drink and that I had never been drunk before in my life. It wasn’t long before that changed.
One of the first times I went out with Chris to the local gay bar Martha’s we were in a small group and we were all taking it in turns to buy rounds, it wasn’t long before they refused to buy my preferred choice of Diet Coke and replaced it instead with Orange Reef (the only thing I could manage because I couldn’t taste the vodka in it). I thought it was so amusing when I got drunk for the first time I actually called my parents at home to let them know… which my parents found even more amusing than I did and I think they were actually relieved, finally in some small way, I was normal!
Meanwhile, Katy and I were feeling the first strains of having a long distance relationship, I desperately wanted her to visit just so that she could see first hand that there was nothing to be worried about. Sure I was meeting new people, some of them gay, but it was all harmless fun. It didn’t look like she’d be able to visit any time soon and it was clear to me that she couldn’t seem to trust me.
No matter how many times I explained what I was doing each evening and who I was doing it with I felt like no answer was ever good enough. We were literally miles apart but it felt like she was suffocating me. Texting and calling almost every minute of the day, making it impossible to keep her happy and keep any sort of social life. We argued a lot then, I was fighting for the trust I felt I deserved, Katy was fighting her insecurities, insecurities that I now take partial responsibility for, yet at the time I certainly couldn’t see why or how she could doubt how much I loved her, I thought I had never given her any reason not to trust me.
It wasn’t long before I couldn’t take it anymore, I wasn’t leaving Uni any time soon and it felt like Katy wouldn’t be happy unless I jacked it all in and went home to be with her. I literally couldn’t do anything right, if I stayed in for an evening I ended up resenting her, if I went out and enjoyed spending time with my new gay friends I would be made to feel guilty.
I wrote a letter, this one was much more thought out that my hasty scribble of a coming out letter. I agonised over it, wishing that things could be different, remembering all the amazing memories we had from our time together. I was sad that it couldn’t seem to withstand the distance. Mostly I wrote a letter because if I tried to have the conversation on the phone or in person I’d never be able to say the things I felt that needed to be said.
I started cutting our daily conversations short, waiting for Katy to receive the letter in the post, I just told her that things weren’t what I thought they would be after I’d moved to Portsmouth and that I’d explained it all in the letter. When she received it, we talked some more, I was due to be going home for the weekend, my parents had arranged for me to come home on the coach and I agreed to see her. We met at a youth centre a short distance from where I lived in Somerset, two of her friends worked there. When we spoke I think she could see that I was going to stick to my decision that it would be a waste of time to try and change my mind, she was right, I knew that in that moment if we ‘kissed and made up’ I would have been back at square one the moment I headed back to Portsmouth.
So it was over, yet we now had all these mutual friends, it hadn’t ended in a catastrophe so we thought we might still be able to remain friends. Peter started to split his time between us, he spent a lot of weekends with me in Portsmouth, I would always ask how Katy was doing, he would usually be honest with me. I appreciated that, because when I attempted to speak with Katy she was falsely pretending everything was OK, it was almost like a game for her, I felt like she was constantly trying to get a reaction out of me. The games had begun.