No sooner had I accepted the job in West London everything seemed to move at lightning speed. Despite being an internal move I still had to go through the motions of handing in my notice. When I was in the office time seemed to pass agonisingly slowly and as soon as I got home and had to do things like figure out how I was going to afford my first month in London or where on earth I was going to live time seemed to slip through my fingers like sand.
My friends took it hard, they worried about what would happen to our little gay family when I was over a hundred miles away. It’s a couple of hours to travel and of course I planned on spending as many weekends as I could back home with Lara, Heidi and Daryl. I also hoped that they would be able to visit often. I didn’t want to give up on my rugby team either, I thought perhaps if I found a club to train with during the week than when I came back for the weekends I’d still be able to join in with the occasional match.
My life was so full during this time, I had found a rhythm that seemed to work really well for me. Even with the absurd shifts I had to work I was exercising a hell of a lot still, eating well and I had a whole new circle of friends thanks mostly to my rugby team. I could name them all and I’m sure I’d talk about them a lot when Lara and I were chilling out for an evening. Of course Heidi was on the team too, from time to time I think Lara was a little frustrated that we had such a social team.
It wasn’t long before we were all hanging out together anyway. After the first couple of games were out of the way Lara and Daryl of course had come to cheer us on and started getting to know the other girls. Now, despite rugby being the assumed sport for lesbian ladies and yes there were a few of us among the ranks, we were still the minority. I think in total, including myself and Heidi there were only about five regular players that were openly gay at the time. The youngest among them was only nineteen years old and was a very bubbly person indeed, you might even say hyper.
Since she was young and didn’t seem to have much experience of the gay scene or many gay friends it wasn’t long before we started inviting us out with the four of us. Initially Lara and I discussed the possibility that something might happen between Heidi and her, her name was Emma. She played second row with me and was easy to talk to. She had a silly sense of humour that fit in with our little gay family very easily. Once or twice Heidi and her managed to hang out while the rest of us was busy with work, college, Uni or whatever. Either way that was enough to foil mine and Lara’s plans that Heidi and Emma might have a ‘happy ever after.’
While all this was busy going on my time home in Somerset was slipping away. Lara had an open day at Twickenham’s St Mary’s University College. I would be driving us up there for the day, naturally. I had been doing some research on our internal notice board at work and looking for a room to rent. I’d lined up a viewing to go to when we were done at the open day. Time was running out to find somewhere amazing to live so I’d settle for somewhere close to the office, affordable and not a complete dive. I could always move on after six months and look for something better.
It was the only place I went to see and I took it. Which looking back now is rather naive of me but you live you learn. I gave the room the once over it was a four bedroomed semi in a cul-de-sac in Hounslow. It had of course rented out five rooms, including the front downstairs room which was now the fifth bedroom. I managed to meet all the tenants during my visit, there was a young gay guy called Jamie who was also from Somerset, small world huh. There was a couple who seemed to pretty much keep to themselves, a Polish guy called Peter who seemed to be a nice guy which left just one other person, and that was Sam. He worked for Sky too and he was the one that posted the ad.
They seemed to approve of my interest in the place and I followed up with a call to the landlord as instructed to express my interest. I felt like the biggest weight was lifted when I had secured a place to live. Now all that was left was the scary business of working the rest of my notice and moving to London. No big deal.
All the details were finalised, I would start my new job on the 28th November and I was scheduled to meet my new team leader at ten am that Monday morning. Ok, here was a small problem, we had a match the day before. The room I was moving into was empty so I managed to negotiate an earlier date to get my hands on the keys. Lara wasn’t available to go with me to meet the landlord, she was busy with work most weekends. I planned on moving most of my things up with me and taking the last few bits up when I was actually going to move in on my start date.
I roped Emma into giving me a hand, mostly because she was fun and willing to take the road trip and secondly because I didn’t have many other options. She helped me load up the car and we hit the road, we chatted the whole way, to begin with it was just meaningless banter. Things like who on the team you would and wouldn’t sleep with, silly jokes, music interests and things like that. However it wasn’t much longer before we were talking more seriously.
A lot of things about how stale mine and Lara’s relationship had become was always bubbling under the surface for me. On the one hand I was so happy that we were such good friends and yet every day I couldn’t escape the feeling that something was fundamentally lacking from what we shared. So after a while I started telling Emma about the history of Lara and I, how we met, how we finally got together, when Lara had hurt me, then hurt me again and how things had never felt the same since. Without even realising it I had literally poured my heart out to her, at just nineteen years old and relatively inexperienced (in comparison) I don’t think she knew what to say.
We found a happier topic and I invited her to talk about her experiences, her last relationship, her longest relationship, if she had a type. Just general stuff you might ask a friend when you’re getting to know each other more. I had no doubt that Emma was part of the gay family now, she fit in with us so effortlessly, with just one flaw. She was a dirty smoker, which Heidi and I would regularly enjoy using to our advantage on long car journeys, here would be no smoking in our cars and only the driver gets to pick when there’s a rest stop.
By the light of day the house didn’t look that bad either. There was a very large kitchen, my room was big enough although perhaps lacking in the clothes storage department. The bed was a double which was good and there was enough floor space to be able to make it difficult enough to figure out exactly how I wanted to layout my room. Emma was patient enough to help me try out different combinations, eventually when I was satisfied it looked just right and the bed was made and the new lampshade fixed in place we decided to leave.
We didn’t see any of the housemates the whole time we were there. There was an awkward moment when the landlord assumed that Emma and I were an item, I think it’s safe to say that Emma is what the L word would call a hundred footer. Then I remember one funny joke of Emma’s just as we’d finished making the bed she hopped on it and claimed ‘I’m the first woman you’ve had in your bed!’ and I couldn’t help but laugh at that. There was something about the situation that kinda reminded me of being a student again. There was that nervousness about leaving everything familiar and the desire to head off into the unknown.
On the way home we stopped for something to eat and when we eventually reached Somerset we would hang out with the rest of the guys for a while before calling it a night. It was a long day and it would only be a week now until I was due to start my new job, I was looking forward to it yet I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right, I guess that’s why I had opened up to Emma about what was going on with Lara and I the way I had. I didn’t regret opening up to her
Next on my to do list was to pen the traditional leaving email and organise a few work drinks to say farewell to my colleagues in Somerset. It would only be a quiet affair since I never really got in with the whole social scene at work. Time was still moving erratically and I couldn’t tell if this last week would drag or move like a speeding bullet. All I knew was that I couldn’t wait for it to be over and discover what the future had in store for me. For the first time maybe ever I was taking control of my life, my future and doing something for me and no one else, it felt good.