Have you ever been taken in by the line ‘You make me want to be a better person’
I have, all those late night conversations with Lara held the sentiment of that statement. I was frank with her, almost blunt. When she offered a confessions of something she had done in her past that I didn’t think was moral I would speak my mind. She would claim not to be proud of her previous endeavours and that she’d grown and learned from each mistake. Most of her endeavours that I ‘frowned upon’ were where she had cheated on previous girlfriends, lead people on or lied.
I soon learned that one ex of hers in particular Lara was holding a lot of guilt for the way she had treated her. They had dated for quite a long time and Lara had been aloof to begin with yet after a while her feelings grew. It reminded me of the beginning of my relationship with Katy and I could relate to that easily enough. However she had let it end on a sour note of lies and cheating. After my experiences with Katy this was behaviour that I couldn’t tolerate in others, I try not to be too judgemental but it is something I feel strongly about.
I encouraged Lara to make things right with her ex, Heidi. Enough time had passed that a genuine apology might actually mean something to her now. They still worked at the same Supermarket at the time, it would certainly help for them to be on better terms. I happened to get to know Heidi through a few mutual acquaintances and a few nights out at our local night club, Level One. We got on quite well initially although it wasn’t until Lara’s apology that we all became closer friends.
By mid February 2007 we were all rather social. We would typically go out at least one night each weekend in town. Katy and I were still moving in the same circles so we would often walk into town together and meet everyone at the bar. My friendship with Lara was still as good as ever, her girlfriend Emma would usually be out too. Now that we were friends with Heidi this opened up a larger circle of friends to us all. Most of which I already knew of but never formally introduced before, and nearly all lesbians.
It was truly surprising in such a small town just how many of us gays there are. It wasn’t long before Heidi and another colleague of Lara’s, a gay guy called Sam, cottoned on to our close friendship and started to think it might be something more. It wasn’t long before I realised that Lara had confided in them what she hadn’t yet managed to tell me, she certainly did have a crush on me but since she wasn’t single she’d never tell me, but she’d told her friends.
One of these nights out, both Heidi and Sam decided to tell me that Lara had feelings for me. I think they both thought that they were playing matchmaker. I already knew that I’d had a crush on her for a long time but just never acted on it. I told them as much and that it didn’t change the fact that she had a girlfriend, there was nothing that could come of it.
That would have been the end of the matter if Lara hadn’t been persistently agonising over her relationship with Emma, telling me that she wasn’t happy with the way things were so ‘full on’ and that she felt things had moved to fast. They’d only been dating just over a month and Emma was claiming to be head over heels in love, yet she didn’t seem to know anything about Lara’s wants and needs. Emma seemed to think that if she treated Lara like a princess that would be enough to secure her affection, Lara didn’t want to be treated like a princess, she wanted some independence.
Dangerously I started thinking to myself, I would be better for her than Emma. I knew it was true, I already knew her so well, I would respect who she was and what she wanted from a partner. I didn’t mean to say anything initially, I wanted Lara to come to the decision herself that things with Emma weren’t working and that the right thing to do was to end it before Emma got in any deeper and would just get hurt more. That was the friendly advice I gave. She didn’t take it.
It frustrated me to hear her complain about it so often and do absolutely nothing to resolve the situation. Maybe she needed an incentive? One day shortly before Valentine’s day we had been texting a lot back at forth, I boldly decided to tell her that I had feelings for her, that I had for a while and that I could never have said anything while I was with Katy but now that I was single I felt that she needed to know. I made it clear that I had no expectations out of respect for Emma, I just thought that she should know.
Sure I felt guilty, Emma was a friend of mine now. I knew what she didn’t, that she was the wrong person for Lara, that they’d gotten together for all the wrong reasons. That wasn’t my fault, but I would be the reason they broke up, although I’m certain it never would have lasted anyway.
After I told Lara how I felt, she confessed to feeling the same. Now we were in really dangerous territory. I was not willing to be anyone’s ‘other woman’ but I couldn’t seem to stay away. Valentine’s day came and went and Lara messaged me saying that she really wanted to get me a card but didn’t think it was appropriate. Emma having already noticed a change in Lara’s behaviour had gone over the top with big romantic gestures in an attempt to get things back on track.
It was painful to witness, especially when Emma would confide in me how she was feeling and her desperate wish to make things better between them. I encouraged Emma to speak to Lara, not me. I hoped that if they would at least start talking about how they were feeling Lara would be able to tell her that things weren’t working and end their relationship before things got any worse. I hated being caught in the middle, I wanted Emma to be happy, I just didn’t want her to be happy with Lara, I felt so selfish.
I remember one evening Lara came around to my house to stay up late, watch some TV, chatter through the night. We’d been laying out on the same sofa most of the night carefully avoiding any talk about feelings that might bring things to the surface we were both attempting to ignore, it was getting more and more difficult to do this the more time we spent alone together.
When Lara got up to go she rolled off the sofa as I sat up. In one swift movement we were face to face, with her kneeling on the floor in front of me between my legs. I had no idea how it had happened, we were mere inches away from leaning in for that first kiss. I couldn’t do it, in a fit of conscious I said goodnight and helped her up off the floor and walked her to the front door.
By the time an hour had passed I was kicking myself. Sure it was the right thing to do, she had a girlfriend, my friend Emma. It’s just that already I was crazy about her, I had absolutely no guarantee that another chance like that would present itself ever again. I promised myself in that moment that if I had the chance again I’d take it, I’d just have to deal with the consequences as and when they came up.