How many times has someone ever told you that some unfortunate life event is actually a blessing in disguise? It’s one of the oldest cliches. I can recall a lot of my past very clearly and some of it less so, it’s just the way life goes sometimes. I realise that as I’ve been writing these past months about me and Lara I’ve struggled to be positive. I’ve recalled how bored I was with life, the rut we were in and a million other negative aspects. Perhaps I haven’t sold exactly why I was still wholeheartedly in this relationship of ours.
We really could laugh together, I remember staying up late giggling into the night as we had tickle fights before going to sleep, always in each others arms. I remember chatting nonsense with each other, planning for the future or contemplating our next holiday. There was even one time that sticks in my memory where we both couldn’t sleep so we thought it was a good idea to sing Spice Girls songs at each other, trying to see how many we could remember. This was just after we’d heard the news that the Spice Girls were due to reform for the London 2012 Olympics.
In reality there were lots of moments just like these, and I clung on to them for dear life. I kept telling myself that what we had was worth hanging in there for. I taught myself to trust Lara over and over again because I was clinging onto those moments. I loved our life, when it was going well I would feel like I was on top of the world. Unfortunately, on top of the world was a minuscule fraction of the time, real like was lacking.
Enough time has passed now that I can admit that I was terrified of our relationship ending, I’d convinced myself that I was happy with Lara, that she was everything I needed. The only person who could make me happy. We had a life together, one I enjoyed, friends that felt like family, two holidays a year, sharing Christmas’ and Birthday’s, a part of each others families. Our lives were tangled up so much that when I look back through my photo’s now of every significant family event in the last six years, she’s there. My Nan’s 80th, my Dad’s 50th then my brothers engagement and lastly my Mum’s 50th… she’s there throughout, seemingly a permanent fixture in my life, immovable and ever present. The thought of losing such a presence in my life, or forcing things to a head was scary.
All week I was thinking about how to have a serious conversation with Lara without losing everything. In the end all I could do was hope that she wanted our relationship to work out as much as I did. I decided instead to focus my attentions on the week at work while away in London, the office Christmas party was on the Thursday night and I’d wangled a ticket and got myself a place on the coach into central London for the party. I’d have to leave early enough to take the tube home or I’d risk getting lost, drunk and disorientated my first night out in London.
I wasn’t really in the mood for the party to begin with, however once we were on the bus and on our way and the vodka was being passed around I was a little more willing to enjoy myself. Lara thought I was only going out for one or two drinks and was expecting me to call when I got home that evening, however as the night went on I stayed out later and later. I didn’t ignore Lara, I let her know that I was having a better time than I was expecting and that it might be quite late by the time I got home so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to call. I think I was coherent enough for my texts to make sense, although I got the feeling that she was more than a little annoyed with me.
I didn’t dwell on that too much after a few more vodkas I was more interested in having a good time and dancing the night away with my colleagues. I’d been working there for less than a month and I already felt more at ease than I ever had throughout my six years in Somerset. It’s not that I didn’t have good relationships, or friendships really with my colleagues back in Somerset it was just different. I remember realising it was getting late and I’d have to leave pretty quick if I planned on getting the last train back to my place in Hounslow.
I’m friendly when I’ve been drinking, not overly friendly but chatty and outgoing. So I made my share of friends on the tube and had a natter with a pretty girl who got off the train a few stops before me. It’s funny how divided talking to strangers on the tube can be. Some people will stare at you incredulously like you’re from another planet, others give you that indulgent smile and put up with your chatter since they’ve figured out ‘you’re not from London, are you?’ There are other reactions too but these are the nicer ones to make note of.
There were some rather entertaining people at the Christmas party, typically someone who couldn’t handle their drink and ended up passed out in a corner of the function room waiting for someone to drag them out of there when it closed. Much to my surprise the next day when they didn’t show for work that was only to be expected, no big deal. In fact, nearly all the management found it hilarious and took pleasure in reminded the person in question how much of an awful state they were.
On the Friday I got through the day, no sign of a hangover and would be heading home for the weekend. It was the last weekend off before Christmas and I was looking forward to seeing my friends and having some fun before we’d all be off doing our own things over the holidays. Time seemed to be passing really quickly and I just wanted to make the most of the time I could spend with my friends. It seemed like in no time at all we’d be off to the Canaries for some winter sun in the February and then just a month later I would have to be bridesmaid at my brothers wedding. It had all come around so quickly.
It was this feeling that made me go back on my decision to speak seriously with Lara. Christmas was just around the corner, then a mother holiday we were all looking forward to. There was a rugby match I’d be playing in that weekend and then my Christmas present to my friends was coming early. I’d booked us all tickets for a night out in Bath at a Cabaret show. It was supposed to be a fun filled weekend and I didn’t want to spoil it.
Then when I got home on the Friday evening, I tried to get in touch with Lara and find out where to meet her. She was out with the gay family, I was more than a little put out. They all knew I was coming home that night and they didn’t wait to see if I wanted to join them. Instead they had expected me to drive out to meet them, where ever they were after I’d already drive over a hundred miles to come home, something I did every weekend just to see them. My family would be happy enough to see me once or twice a month, my girlfriend and friends claimed to want to spend more time with me.
I was most annoyed with Lara, surprised that after another week apart she was again less than happy at the idea of me coming home to spend time with her. Worse still, that she couldn’t spare any time for me. I didn’t go out to join them, instead I stayed home and caught up with my parents. My last minute plan not to spoil the weekend had gone out of the window, it was time things needed to be said. Lara had work the next morning but I made it clear that we needed to talk and that I expected to see her after she finished work the next afternoon.
Lara drove up to my place after work and rather than have a difficult conversation in the presence of my parents I got in the car with her and we went for a short drive. We parked up in a trading estate not too far from where I lived and we talked. It started off very much like every conversation we had ever had before. Only this time I didn’t relent, I made Lara make a choice once and for all, she was either in this with me or she had finally decided that whatever we had just wasn’t enough for her anymore.
Sure I was hurt, and sure I said things that perhaps didn’t need to be said. I raked over the past, bringing up once again all the unresolved skeletons inout closet. I didn’t stop asking why this time and I wasn’t going to take a crappy answer off of her this time, I wasn’t going to settle for empty promises she never had any intention of keeping. After a while Lara hit upon a way out, she said she felt trapped, that she was too young to be so settled down, she didn’t like knowing that this was it and there would never be anything else. Of course I asked if there was someone else, I revisited my suspicions about her and Emma. Again, Lara was brutal in her assessment of Emma still proclaiming that she was the last person she’d ever be interested in.
I forced her to decide once and for all, there were tears on both sides and she finally said she didn’t want me anymore, she didn’t want what we had, it wasn’t enough for her, she just wanted to be young and free from any kind of commitment. She was 24 then, this was to date her longest and most serious relationship, before me I don’t think she’d had a relationship that lasted longer than a year, we’d been together nearly five years. The end, although inevitable with the rut we’d been stuck in was still a shock.
I asked Lara to drive me home, I was angry and upset and said some horrid things. Told her that she’d been wasting my time that she was cruel for waiting for me to move away before she finally found the strength to end it, accused her of knowing that she wanted this all along and that she’d just been keeping me hanging on for her own amusement. However true that is and believe me it is, it probably didn’t need to be said in that moment with everything so fresh and raw.
Lara pulled up just around the corner from my house and I looked at her and said goodbye, as I got out of the car and walked away she screamed after me ‘Don’t do this!’ I can tell you now that she couldn’t have said anything else to make me more confused and angry, yet after everything that had been said there was no way I could turn back and go to her, so I kept walking and went home and shut myself away in my room.
It would only be a few hours before I realised that I needed to begin the difficult process of untangling our lives. What would I do with all the Christmas presents I’d bought for her, the holiday we had booked, the mutual friends. Then naively I began to hope, her last sentiment was that she didn’t want it to be over, she’d screamed it at me. I thought maybe if she cooled off she’d be able to tell me it was all just a big mistake and we could work things out, we would be able to get back on track. If she just needed a little time and perspective I could wait and see what happened next. I wouldn’t have to take those steps just now to start unravelling our intwined lives.
We had a pretty full weekend to get through with emotions running high. I wanted to have a good time with our friends, so I would try to put a happy face on it all. It was going to be one of the most awkward weekends I’d ever been through. It would be a very long time before I would begin to see the events of this day as a blessing in disguise.