During my first year at University I think it’s fair to say I went from one error to the next in quick succession, sometimes I learned from my mistakes and sometimes the mistakes were just too fun in the moment to care about whether I let it happen again. I think as far as mistakes and errors go, that’s the best philosophy to have, knowing that I was having both the time of my life and learning so much means that even now I don’t really have many regrets.
By the time Christmas was over and I was back in Portsmouth one thing I was absolutely certain of was that I had chosen the wrong course of study. I didn’t find it challenging or interesting, I was studying Product Design and Innovation. It was technical and lacked creativity, maybe if I suffered through the first year it would have gotten better, but instead I started looking for other options and eventually found a course I thought would interest me and put wheels in motion to change courses at the end of the year.
I had hoped that I might have been able to transfer onto the second year of another course, since I had completed the work and sat the exams (mostly) for my current course, I had enough credits. But since one was considered Science and the other Arts it wasn’t an option.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if I had my time over I would have studied something completely different, I should have gone to a local University and studied something like Architecture, I like to think I would have kept my focus if I’d done something like that. But I was young and stubborn and I wanted to be away from home, I seemed to have forgotten about all the ambition I had just a year or two before.
To this day I can’t seem to pin-point where I lost that ambition along the way. Yet I stubbornly refused to give up easily on anything. I would constantly reassess what my priorities in life were, whether is was a career, travelling, friends and family… I was still a teenager, how could I really know what I wanted, it’s a bit unfair to have to make such important life decisions at that age.
So having lost interest in my course, yet still enjoying being away from home I was free to live it up and enjoy the endless partying until the end of the year. In the run up to the easter break I wouldn’t say I was out of control but I was certainly feeling a little lost. When I look back I barely recognise the person I was then.
The most random thing happened one evening while I was online, I can’t exactly remember which site I met Chloe through but I remember that she got in touch with me using the most random of introductions. It was something along the lines of ‘Hey, are you based in James Watson Halls? I recognise the curtains from your profile picture’ well the picture wasn’t taken in those Halls of Residence, it was taken while at my friend Chris’ Margaret Rule, though clearly the curtains were a standard for all Residences.
I enjoyed speaking with Chloe more than anyone else I had met in Portsmouth, although she seemed painfully shy at times and was quite reluctant to meet up with me and my friends. She worked on the high street and the first time I actually met her I was buying a magazine (Diva, of course) and she happened to serve me. We’d established very early on that unfortunately she wasn’t single, but I was happy to make new friends, she was honestly one of the nicest people I met during my time at Uni
So while Chloe was reluctant to socialise, I did manage to meet up with a couple of other people who I had started speaking with online. Two friends Jennie and Louise had arranged to meet up with me and my friends one evening, it was a good night out and for a change we didn’t go to a gay bar. We went to the coolest place in Portsmouth at the time and ended up in Flares, I loved the disco light dance floor, choreographed dance routines and feel good disco music from the 60’s and 70’s, it was impossible to fail to have a good night out in a place like that.
I would see a lot more of Jennie and Louise over the coming weeks, I liked them both, but Jennie seemed to be the more level headed and frankly more attractive of the two. I must admit I had a bit of a crush but it came to nothing as shortly after we met that first time she started dating someone she had met a few weeks before. We all stayed friends, well friends that party together anyway.
During this time I also happened to meet Debbie, Chris actually started speaking with her first one evening when we were out, he thought she was lovely and I think he was trying to set me up with her that night. I didn’t think she was actually interested in me and therefore I wasn’t interested in return. Debbie would come to be one of the best friends I made at Uni, I still keep in touch with her now although perhaps not as much as I should. She hadn’t long broken up with her long-term girlfriend and she was enjoying being social. She was older than me studying for a masters degree, and a lot more mature than I could ever have hoped to be at that age. Yet best of all, she was on both the University Rugby and Hockey team, which opened up a whole new social circle to me, and it was a whole lot of fun.
So what about all these errors I hear you say… well I hit a bit of a slump. I was missing home, stuck in a cycle of getting drunk and mindlessly partying on, it actually gets a little empty and depressing after a while. You never feel like you’re forming any lasting relationships, it would be months to years before I realised what good friends Chris, Debbie and Chloe had been during those times. So in those months when I was at my lowest I stupidly decided to give up Chocolate for lent. Why, oh why!
I managed to replace Chocolate with alcohol, which certainly didn’t help the first stirrings of depression I was feeling, and certainly doesn’t help with my recollection of the events that passed. Perhaps one of my biggest mistake was Steven, he DJ’d at the local gay bar, and one night he ended up coming home with me, it was the first time I ever slept with a man. I was hideously drunk, and I felt so ashamed of myself the next day.
I think leading up to that fateful even I was dealing with a lot. I was still struggling to figure out why my parents couldn’t seem to approve of my sexuality, they were convinced it was a phase, I had been so sure it wasn’t, yet I was desperately unhappy and beginning to think I never would find a woman to spend the rest of my life with (of course I wouldn’t if I was a drunken party animal 24/7). The irony is not lost of me that of all the guys in the world I could have had this first experience with it happened to be a straight male DJ from the local gay bay but lets face it, with the circles I moved in those days that was probably the only way I was going to meet a straight male.
Now to be fair, the experience didn’t disgust me, it didn’t turn me into a man-hating lesbian, it just confirmed what I long suspected, that it just didn’t do anything for me. As for my other mistakes, well those might be more interesting, and more complex to convey, with a whole catalog of errors it’s just not possible for me to divulge them all in just one entry.