What can I say other than my family like to dance. My Dad’s 50th birthday was fast approaching and we planned to spend the night in Reading at a dinner-dance evening at the Calcot hotel, followed by a day out in the freezing cold at a football match. Lara would of course be there with me, we’d been to a dinner-dance here before when it was my Nan’s 80th birthday.
Sadly my Nan is no longer with us, I think it’s fair to say that her 80th birthday was one of her most cherished moments and the last time she probably saw all her daughters in the same room together. Many years previously there had been many family disputes between the sisters which had proved impossible to repair. Knowing that this would be a rare occurrence of the whole family getting together (on my mum’s side) I made sure to capture it all. I put together a photo-book for my Nan as her Christmas present since her birthday and Christmas were so close together and she was delighted with it.
It wasn’t until last year when I had the photo-book returned to me that I realised just how significant Lara had been not just in my life but within my family too. There she was in one or more of the photos looking out of the pages at me, now at the time my Nan, aunties and cousins had no idea that we were a couple, the only people who knew of our relationship were my immediate family and the one Aunty and family who my parents were still on good terms with. We were only supposed to be up there for the evening and had planned on travelling back to Somerset that very night, however we were dressed more smartly than we would normally dare to dress and both thought it would have been more fun to be drunk. So we booked ourselves into a hotel room and stayed the night, I was still being careful not to out myself to the rest of my family however we all know how well that goes with alcohol.
It was a short while after this party that one of my cousins sent me a friend request on Facebook, now I was in a pickle. My Facebook was resolutely out of the closet. It clearly stated that Lara and I were in a relationship together, not to mention the plethora of photos and status updates that would certainly give the game away. So I decided to respond with a message explaining what she had probably undoubtedly guessed since my Nan’s 80th that Lara and I were together and it was the only reason I hadn’t added any of the family sooner, since my mother thought it best not to let my Nan know.
This was sometimes an awkward topic for me, personally I couldn’t see why my Nan shouldn’t know. However I accepted that my Mum knew her better than I ever would and if she thought that best I would go along with it, whether she was protecting me from my Nan’s disapproval or protecting my Nan from having to process such information I don’t know and I never asked. However week after week I would hear my Nan call up and speak with my Mum about Ryan and Gemma and how happy they were together, eventually my Nan would ask after me and if I was ‘courting’ my mum would always say no, this really irritated me. Lara and I had been together just as long as the two of them and it sucked to have our relationship snubbed over and over again whether there was good reason or not.
When it came around to my Dad’s dinner-disco for his 50th it was November 2010, we travelled up to Reading for the occasion since my parents still have good friends there and we were joined by my brother Ryan and Gemma and some of my parents close friends from Somerset. When the men and the lesbians would be at the football the next day the women would be going shopping.
It was nice to finally be at a family function where I didn’t have to hide who I was, don’t get me wrong we weren’t loud and proud, rub it in everyone’s face but the fact that everyone there knew that Lara and I were together was comforting. It couldn’t often be said about group situations like that.
These disco-dances are good fun, it’s really cheesy and the music is so predictable. In fact it’s a bit like going to your year 6 school disco but when you’re all grown up and drunk. Just take a minute to imagine that for a second, awesome right? Well, surreal but awesome. Just picture people of all ages drunk enough to get up and dance to Saturday Night and the Macarena without reserve. Those were the days when I never used to get hangovers either, I miss that more than anything.
Did I mention we love to dance? I don’t know if this is nature or nurture working here but there has never been a party yet where we don’t all end up on the dance floor. I think this has something to do with our complete lack of embarrassment. I had been subjected to a childhood filled with my mum grabbing me at random intervals and skipping through streets or supermarkets, successfully embarrassing me as a tween by dancing away in clothes shops when a good song comes on over the radio… in short this all lead us to usually be the first on the dance floor and the last off of it at a shin-dig like this. It’s infectious too, so even Lara who has some of the worst natural rhythm I have ever witnessed in a woman attempting to dance would join in and laugh half the night away with us, especially if she’d been drinking.
Again I took heaps of photos to remember the evening with, photos of us all dressed to impress and dancing the night away. I’d spent the evening getting my Mum ready for the night out by helping her figure out how to curl her hair with ghd’s. Yet when I look back at the photos from this night out I’m struck by two things, one that this was yet another family event that Lara joined in with, right there in the centre of it all with me, so much a part of our family and secondly is man! I was a heffa back then. Again, I’m no pixie now but christ I was like a balloon back then. It’s around about the time my health kick started.
So as unhappy as I could be at times with our relationship, even with how boring I found the routine I never stopped loving Lara and hoping that things would get better between us. Sure I had needs that weren’t being met by our relationship and realising that time-to-time really hurt and made me feel very insecure, but so much of that was out of my control. What was in my control was the decision of whether I ultimately thought what Lara and I had, warts and all, was worthy enough to put up with those moments. So often, I talked myself out of walking away when things were tough. I would tell myself that there was no one better for me, no one who my family would accept so wholeheartedly, I would convince myself that I still loved her as much as I did when I said it for the first time.
However honestly speaking I was just too invested. We’d put years into this relationship, I felt like it had to be going somewhere. In those moments where you had seen your whole future together unfolding before you, that happy ever after… even when that was no longer in sight, when times were so tough that there might never be a way back it was still a difficult dream to let go of. That’s why whatever we seemed to have between us these days continued to drag on, and on.