So, what do you do when you realise that it’s not just over, but it’s really over and there’s no way back? Well, if you’re me that would usually involve a lot of vodka, dancing, silly antics and multiple hangovers. The problem is, when you’re isolated and alone, drinking isn’t fun or even really an option. Drinking through misery when alone, to me, feels like what someone with bigger issues than I believed I had at the time might resort to. Sure my life was a mess, I still wasn’t quite on the verge of alcoholism.
I tried to find healthier distractions and indulgences. Pretending to keep up with my fitness, finding a rugby club to train with became my first priority. I was stubborn enough not to give up my team back home, Lara had taken everything else I didn’t want her to have that too. I’d make sure I came home for games and that I enjoyed spending time with my teammates whenever I was home. Then there was work, already finding the day-to-day tasks pretty easy I didn’t really feel the need to push myself during my time in the office.
Next there was the added pressure of the looming holiday. It was only a few weeks away now and unless someone backed out the four of us were all scheduled to fly off to the Canaries together. There might have been a moment when I even entertained the idea, before I knew about Lara and Emma, before Lara reported me to the Police over nothing, before my friends really made things difficult by not really being there for me like I needed them to be. So instead I tried to find someone to buy out Lara from our holiday.
Even with attempting to find a halfway decent, non-professional women’s rugby team in West London I still had a lot of time on my hands. Too much time really and I decided I needed to make some friends. It wasn’t long before I turned to the internet in an attempt to make friends locally. I was already signed up to gaydargirls and more recently POF and had casually been chatting to one or two (or ten) people (lesbians).
It wasn’t too long before someone or other suggested meeting up. Well, since I wanted to make friends I thought I’d give it a go. We swapped numbers and online messaging became texting, I remember going home for the weekend and this girl, lets call her Jenny, was rather keen. Clearly had the ambition of being admiring, even though all she knew of me were some rather grainy photos from my online profile and some witty banter. I however, was in absolutely no mood to discourage such attention. After what I had been through lately it was actually rather welcome.
I didn’t think too much about what happened next we already had plans to meet up for a drink somewhere neutral, I’d have to drive so at least I knew I was staying sober. So in the mean time it didn’t bother me too much when Jenny tried to engage in some dangerously flirty texts, then a day or two later outrageously smutty texts. It had been a while (a long while, even longer since it was good…) so I just rolled with it.
If I had stopped to think about whether I was really attracted to Jenny I would have realised it was a resounding no. She was young, immature, over-invested in our acquaintance and (if I may attempt to be tactful) just didn’t appeal to me in her appearance. That’s right, she was no oil painting. I’m not trying to be judgemental (much) and I know that objectively speaking I’m not many people’s idea of beautiful but attraction is personal and being honest about my personal opinion there wasn’t any attraction for me. I was attracted by the attention rather than the person, I was rebounding.
By the time we met up for drinks I was already regretting the stupidly smutty texts that had already been exchanged. It was clear that it had built up an expectation for the evening that I was going to have to nip in the bud. I had no intention of leading the girl on, I aimed to be clear with her when it came to meeting up about the sort of place I was in emotionally and that more than anything I needed friends without complications. It didn’t really work out that way.
So I was stupidly feeling guilty, before I’d even really met the girl. I knew that I didn’t really want anything to happen between us, I wanted to cancel on her but I didn’t. We’d go for something to drink at a country pub on the outskirts of London but still on the Thames, I can’t even remember now what the place was called or where it was. Still, the expectation was there and I was dressed uncharacteristically well, was I making an effort or just sending mixed signals? I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted from one moment to the next.
Jenny was cheeky with a wickedly naughty sense of humour, overly familiar for someone you’ve just met but still the kind of banter I would usually enjoy with friends. It wasn’t long before we had our ‘it’s a small world’ moment. It turned out that her ex-girlfriend had recently moved to my hometown in Somerset for work, what were the odds. Before they’d split up she’d even gone to visit her there once or twice, the girl had literally walked right past my house in Somerset more than once and I’d never even seen her before in my life.
As the night went on I was relieved to find that it was just friendly banter between us, no deep questions that might be put out there if you were on a date looking to get to know someone’s deepest darkest secrets, no smutty talk like there had been in the texts, just harmless banter. I started to feel a lot more relaxed and just go with however the night would take me.
Eventually we noticed the time and that it was getting late. It was a weeknight so I didn’t want to be out ridiculously late and it would take me a while to figure out how to get back to Hounslow. I offered Jenny a lift home, since it’s the courteous thing to do when you have a car and someone else would have to resort to public transport. Jenny however offered an alternative, she brazenly attempted to invite herself back to my place.
Seriously! How can someone even contemplate inviting themselves back to someone else’s when you’ve only just met for the first time and neither of you are drunk? I side-stepped her request and in true cowardly fashion offered an excuse over a rejection. I told her that I didn’t know my housemates well enough to be able to invite someone back for the night yet, I hadn’t established if there were house rules or anything. It was pretty obvious bull sh*t.
Jenny graciously accepted my offer of a lift home and directed me back to her place. I wasn’t worried about her attempting to invite me in, she’d already explained she lived with her family and that just wasn’t an option. As we drove we continued to talk easily enough, the conversation however was getting near dangerous ground on the flirtation side of things. We were talking about previous experiences, joking about the most risqué places we’d had sex, best ones yet and such… I wanted to steer the conversation down a more innocent route and recover the friendly banter before I blurred the lines too much but it was too late, we’d just pulled up by her house.
That’s when she went in for the kiss, did I stop her… No. I was in the clutches of the rebound, feeling absolutely nothing for this girl at all but still going through the motions anyway. So I went with it since this encounter was better than the agonising loss and isolation I’d be faced with as I would sit alone in my room in Hounslow. Empty meaningless sex had worked out for me before, Jenny clearly didn’t have any long-term expectations, if she did I doubt she would have been so forthright in our encounters to date, she had just one thing on her mind and I could have taken advantage of that.
So did I take advantage? Alas, no I didn’t. Despite Jenny repeating her wish for me to take me back to my place I didn’t relent and I knew it was the right thing to do. I’d only be more messed up if I went through with it. I thought about attempting to salvage the situation and make a friend out of the mess the following day, however I guess I hurt her feelings by rejecting her and after this first encounter we never saw each other again. She was right to feel like I had led her on, I did. The attention was all I needed at the time.
Even after this escapade which slightly inflated my ego and made me feel wanted again, even only for a little while I was still embittered over my recent and very raw break up. There was something a little vindictive about my motivations for stubbornly wanting to continue with my rugby team and push Lara out of the ‘family’ holiday. It would be a little while longer until I would let that bitterness go, yet not before I’d almost risked everything. It would take the intervention of someone who would become a great friend to make me snap out of it.