May brings lots of flowers…
Ok, now I’ve gotten that out of my system lets continue with the story of 2012. I like to look back at this as a positive year, and although there are some things that happened that led me down a path to a less positive experience in 2013 I will attempt true to my feelings at the time. I started 2012 at my lowest and would end it on a high. however temporary.
After moving home and finding that it was rather fun to live with Dana and the housemates, the experience with Spanish Maria and generally feeling a bit more like my old outgoing self I was determined to make 2012 a great year for me. Not only was it going to be a time to focus on my own ambition and happiness it would be a great time to be living in London. We were all gearing up for the Olympics and had uncharacteristically good weather most of the spring.
February brought a round of first for me, my first ever hen parties. Firstly there was my co-workers hen night in London and secondly my future sister-in-laws hen weekend back home in Somerset. It was fun-filled and I was somewhere between life and soul of the party and happy to be along for the ride. There was no more moping about on a night out, no more bitterness and no more regrets. I was beginning to feel happier about being by myself, independent and free.
The London hen party was a night out in Covent Garden/Soho, the party was for my friend Zinah and there would be five of us in total from the office at her hen party, the rest of the group would be made up of her friends and cousins that we would meet up with after work. Right from the start it was a fun night out, I remember singing lady gaga songs on the tube on our way into Town, getting a little disorientated as the girls tried to find their hotel and friends when we arrived in Covent Garden and I remember that I had a huge golf umbrella with me as the weather had been temperamental recently.
It didn’t rain the whole time we were out and I remember the golf umbrella being useful as we traipsed around London like tourists with our guide up front waving the brolly in the air to make sure we all stuck together. Zinah’s friends were all great fun and easy to get on with. I soon realised that drinking like a fish very much put me and a couple of other girls in the minority but everyone was still able to have a great time, most of the party didn’t actually drink, the hen included.
Perhaps now is a good time to explain why there was a lack of alcohol, it was simply a cultural thing. We were a diverse group of ladies from all walks of life, they were mostly muslim and hindu. I was the token white girl and a lesbian to boot, and my West Country origins made me fair game for culture-shock banter. They would joke with me about whether or not I had ever met a brown person before and if I was ‘the only gay in the village’ where I came from, and I would joke with them about any potentially racist remarks since that stuff is just too acceptable in the West Country, and often pointing out that they couldn’t retaliate because I was the minority here. I’ve have never met a group of girls who are so completely non-judgemental, all of us were so different yet all of us were so accepting of each other. No one was ever offended by each others remarks and we delighted in discussing stereotypes and making fun of ourselves.
Some of the things I remember joking about were the casual way they would ask if there were any brown people where I lived and when I said yes, they would follow up with ‘Did they own the corner shop or the takeout?’ I loved how they would make fun of their own stereotypes just like I would about being from the country, or being gay. I love a good stereotype, they’re funny and offer an exaggerated version of cultural or societal behaviours, they’re not all offensive as some people believe. When they said that I didn’t look like a lesbian, I said that was because I’d grown out of it, and they’d have spotted me from a hundred feet if they’d known me when I was 18 as I was far too obvious with my shorter than short hair, boys clothes and swagger. Yes, I just said swagger.
I had no plans to stay out all night, I was looking at making my way back to Ealing before the tubes stopped and leaving the girls to enjoy their hotel rooms in peace. That plan went out the window. After a few drinks in one or two bars in Covent Garden I somehow managed to convince the girls that it would be fun to take them to the Candybar. Along the way we somehow managed to pick up a Dutch-man who wanted to accompany us to the bar, being technically ‘women only’ we were able to ditch him at the door.
A hen party in a lesbian bar ultimately guarantees a certain level of attention and our hen Zinah and her friends seemed to enjoy the atmosphere. I don’t remember how long we stayed there for but it was fun and quiet enough to keep a steady flow of drinks going. We only left when everyone was too hungry or drunk and needed a sobering Maccy D’s.
We ended up at the McDonalds on the Strand, it was en-route to the hotel the girls were staying at. Anushri and I were planning on continuing the drinking and partying when we all got back to the hotel. We had started the night with cake and alcohol at the hotel and it seemed only right to end it that way too. I wasn’t in the mood for food (hey that rhymes!) so I loitered outside as I waited for them to eat as ‘fresh air’ seemed like a good idea to me.
Practically the whole time I waited outside I was getting chatted up by some bouncer from a nearby club. Don’t get me wrong he was a nice enough chap, but I’m a lesbian and very open about that… why couldn’t he just figure out he was wasting his time!? The girls saw me talking with the guy from inside and apparently found it quite funny that I couldn’t seem to shake him, it was a relief when they were all finally done eating and we could move on.
We arrived back at the hotel and it was clear that I would have to crash that night there with them. I had plans the next day however to head back home for the weekend, I’d have to get up at the crack of dawn to make that happen and that would be painful. Anushri and I managed to snag a room to ourselves and after what felt like just two hours sleep I was awake and leaving the girls for my solitary trip home. It was the first night out in London I’d had since moving there and they made it an awesome night, it was great to know that I’d be seeing them all again at the wedding.
While I was back home that weekend I would spend more time with Sophie and Megan. Sophie and I would either hand out in Bath and grab a drink or two at Mandalyn’s, I remember one weekend when we went for a drive through Cheddar Gorge for a change of scene and a chance for Sophie to get out of Bath which was something she hadn’t managed to so since she’d moved there.
As for Megan, we would meet up and she was fill me in on her news. She would sometimes tell me things about Lara that I didn’t really want to hear. I was trying to move on and I didn’t need to hear that I was right all along not to have completely trusted her. Megan was able to confirm (to some level) the extent of the affair that had existed between Rose and Lara, it wasn’t a surprise but it wasn’t nice to hear. Megan also fed me information that Lara and Rose were meeting up behind Emma’s back (keep up, Emma is the girl Lara left me for…) It was odd the effect that information had on me. Immediately I felt like I had a duty to Emma to tell her exactly what Lara was getting up to, but how could I? She would just write it off as a jealous ex interfering, I guessed that was a lesson she’d just have to learn the hard way. I knew enough from the information Megan offered me that Lara was not supposed to be spending time with Rose, that Emma had tried to forbid it, so whatever was going on between them had to be done in secret.
I was surprised that Megan was Ok with her on/off girlfriend spending time with a girl she’d once cheated with. But then as Megan and I got to know each other again it became clear that she was slowly trying to distance herself from Rose. She didn’t want to be in the relationship anymore, I didn’t realise how bad things were to begin with but each time we’d meet up I’d hear some new horror story about how Rose treated Megan. I couldn’t figure out why they were still together.
The next time I’d go back to Somerset it would be for my future sister-in-laws hen weekend. Even though I was beginning to enjoy London more there was still more friends and family pulling me back home than there were new friends and opportunities for experiencing life in London. I was content to spend nearly every weekend back home with my nearest and dearest, I even got into the routine of having a purely Monday to Friday work week in London. It would continue to be the pattern of my life for many months to come, over time there would become two versions of me, Elena at home and Elena in London. It was merely a transitional thing, I was still trying to settle into London.