I was good at my course, if you think that made me enjoy it you’d be wrong. That alone had been enough for me while studying for my GCSE’s and A-Levels, however my course at University wasn’t enough to hold my interest. Over a matter of weeks I stopped going to so many classes and lectures. I remember even handing in one assignment which was supposed to be a write up of an art gallery visit following a field trip to London. I didn’t go to London and I blagged my paper based on previous trips I had been on years before. I did alright.
I think that was part of the problem, the course had no structure and didn’t engage me. Everything was too easy and because it was too easy I only put the minimum effort required into my assignments. Over time the minimum effort reduced to no effort. I moved onto this course because I’d made friends with a third year student the year before and he’d really enjoyed it. I thought it seemed more me. I’d heard from him since his graduation and he wasn’t doing anything with his degree, the competition in design at a graduate level was high and the pay was terrible.
The question I had to ask myself was whether four years of student debt would be worth it, if at the end of it all I wouldn’t have anything to show for it. I knew that was the question hanging over my head, but I put off answering it for a long time. I already knew the answer if I was being honest with myself, but I didn’t want to admit that I’d made the wrong decision with University, I didn’t want to stick it out either. That’s when my nocturnal lifestyle began.
It was winter so it was dark by five most evenings, and that’s about the time I would drag myself out of bed from the night out before. No wonder I never encountered hang-overs until recently, I just slept through them as a teenager. I think I spent the better part of a month without actually seeing daylight.
I lived on a road in the middle of Southsea where I had a Threshers off license at the end of my road and a Tesco Metro just a couple hundred meters further away. My parents would top up a pre-paid gift card for me to buy my weekly groceries with, my own money would be spent in Threshers. After I’d drag myself out of bed each afternoon/evening I would head to the store and buy my alcohol for the evening.
Pre-loading was fun, I’d invite the guys round for drinks before going out pretty much every night. Whether we ended up at one of the many gay bars or the Student Union it didn’t matter as long as I was drunk. I realise now that this was very dangerous behaviour. I wouldn’t say I was addicted to alcohol, but my lifestyle certainly wasn’t healthy.
My nocturnal behaviour was taking it’s toll. The Christmas break was fast approaching and I’d be heading home for the holidays. My parents however thought that I looked really well, I had lost a lot of weight during this time (mostly due to the alcohol and dancing). I had always had dark eyes and skin paler than pale so that didn’t stand out anymore than usual. I was thrilled that everyone seemed to think I was looking good, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t looking after myself if I looked good.
During the Christmas holidays I had a bit of a wake up call. Katy and I were yet again within five miles of each other and we sought each other out like heat-seeking missiles. Yet this time there was no explosion, no confrontation of any kind and it brought us closer together than we had been even over the summer. Katy apologised for not trusting me, in the months that we had been apart neither of us had been sleeping around this time and I think that helped matters. We weren’t ready for us to be over. So yet again, we decided to give things another go.
Meanwhile I sat down with my parents and discussed the possibility of quitting University. I thought that they would have been angry or disappointed. They weren’t, they were incredibly supportive and were all too willing to welcome me home. This actually frustrated me a little, again it stung that they could be so cool about something as huge as this yet when it came to me being gay and my relationship with Katy they were less than understanding. I put all that to one side to deal with the matter at hand.
I didn’t tell Katy initially that I’d be coming back home, I knew she’d be happy about this. It would actually give us a real shot at working things out, it wouldn’t make our problems go away though. I made up my mind to figure out what needed to be done when I got back to Portsmouth. I didn’t want to leave my housemates in the lurch when it came to paying rent at our house and I had to find out how to withdraw from my studies and let everyone know that I was leaving.
After Christmas I stayed in Portsmouth for about a month just to get everything in order and leave in style. I continued with my nocturnal lifestyle right up to my last day. I had made some great friends in my time there and I didn’t want to leave without a proper send off. I didn’t expect anything to happen that would make me seriously think about reconsidering my decision, but it did. That story can wait until tomorrow.