In the summer of 2005 I turned twenty. It’s not a milestone of any kind but it holds some sort of significance since you’re no longer a teenager. When I was twenty I had a full time job, a ten thousand pound loan, student debt and I was in a serious committed relationship. I felt rather grown up all of a sudden.
I remember picking up my Peugeot, I was trading in my Punto and my dad had charged the battery for me to make the trip to the garage since it wouldn’t move these days without assistance. Just in case of any further mechanical problems my Dad came with me to the garage and we waited with baited breath while the salesman looked over my car for trade in. The sucker didn’t even start it and he still gave me £600 for the piece of junk.
I didn’t feel guilty, I was about to spend over £8,000 with them. It’s the single biggest sum I have ever paid on my bank card to date. We waited while the salesman went through all the rigmarole of demonstrating the cars features and took it for a little spin before taking care of all the documents. My Dad then headed back to work and I was going to take my new car for a spin.
I didn’t go far, I went to get Katy and fill it up with petrol and then we headed back into Somerset and parked it up and headed to the pub. By the time I had gotten to the pub I had spent somewhere in the region of £8,350 and I had a surprise call from the bank. They were just checking to make sure someone hadn’t gone on a spending spree with my card, I found that quite funny.
About a week later I was driving home from work and I spotted a police car hiding in a private driveway about 300m down the road from where I was. I knew it was too late, I was going 42 in a 30 this time. By the time I had drawn level with the cop car all they had to do was put the blues on and pull me over. I was quite literally kicking myself, how could this happen to me twice within a month! I’m usually such a sensible driver.
I didn’t manage the situation very well and I was a bit teary at the injustice of it all, well at getting caught red handed. When the officer asked to see my license it got worse, I had to say ‘Sorry I don’t have it on me, I got caught speeding last month and the Hampshire Constabulary still have it’ well that didn’t look good.
I didn’t tell my parents about getting caught speeding this time, I had been driving just over 2 years and this was my second offence. That meant six points, had I been caught like this just a few months earlier it would have been a driving ban, I felt very lucky.
In the run up to my 20th birthday I had made friends with a guy called Ryan. Billy had organised to meet up with him since they had some mutual friends and they were both gay. I think Billy invited us along as I already knew Ryan since he was in my older brother’s year at school and because he didn’t want it to feel too much like a date, he still wasn’t ready for that.
Ryan was thrilled to meet us all, he’d been desperate to have a gay circle of friends. With both Ryan and I being confident drivers it wasn’t long before we started going out for in the evenings a little further afield. We’d regularly go out to Bath and Bristol to the gay bars there, taking as many of the lads with us as possible. We were very similar in our outlook on life, with a sense of adventure and ambition, it wasn’t long before I would consider Ryan to be one of my best friends.
We went out to Bristol on the night of my twentieth birthday to a bar called the Queen Shilling. We’d been there many times before. The guys had bought me a helium balloon that said happy birthday and planned to get me drunk. I remember being at the bar waiting to be served, by this time I had the balloon tied to my handbag and it was drawing attention. A girl I had never met before wished me happy birthday, kissed me and offered to buy me a drink. Katy didn’t like that at all.
I tried to be diplomatic when Katy came over to ‘mark her territory’ and immediately introduced her to my new acquaintance as my girlfriend. It didn’t matter, the damage was already done. Apparently it was all my fault for being such an insufferable flirt. Now I’m not sure if I’d call myself a flirt, I am a chatterbox though. When I go out to a bar or club I actually like to meet new people, not to take them home of ‘pull’ someone, just to be friendly and have a good time.
Katy on the other hand liked the attention, her idea of making friends meant a clumsy way of flirting with someone and eventually ending the conversation with her now favourite question of ‘Who would you rather sleep with, me or Elena?’ it was a game she liked to play because she knew I hated it. I imagine she thought I hated it because I thought people preferred her to me, I just hated that she was acting like such an idiot and embarrassing herself in public like that.
We would play other more acceptable games when we were alone at night before going to sleep. These would be funnier. Think along the lines of ‘Snog, Marry, Chuck off a cliff’ that was perfectly acceptable. Sometimes we’d play a ‘Would you rather…’ game which would consist of picking two names of lesbians that we knew of and deciding of the two which one you’d rather have sex with. Sometimes it would be hilarious, other times it would be a dangerous game.
Katy had spent the summer looking for work, I would help as much as possible with her applications. Unfortunately Katy wasn’t very confident about selling herself to prospective employees. She would get frustrated quite often and in those moments she could be very negative. I would quite often have to step in to fluff her ego and talk her up to go for another job, send another application. It truly didn’t take long for her to find a job at a local holiday park. Now we were both in full time employment we were planning to take that next step and start looking for somewhere to live.
We were coasting through these months, we did a good job of pretending to be happy. Those skeletons still hadn’t gone anywhere and when we played our silly little games we could both feel the tension. I think we were both holding on to some of the hurt that had been caused in those months apart, the unanswered and frankly unasked questions. As long as we kept moving on and kept taking our relationship to the next level we wouldn’t have to think too much about that. I guess that’s really how we came to the decision to move in together some time around September.
I certainly wasn’t a teenager anymore. I had responsibilities, people to consider before myself, bills to pay, a car to run. Since I had quit University I had begun to feel like an adult for the first time.