Dying to forget

Back in 2012 I had an Easter break that was strangely a great night and also the worst night. There were things that happened that fateful Good Friday that I long to forget and some things that I just wonder at in disbelief. I very rarely have regrets, however there are parts of the evening I genuinely can’t remember to this day, that frightens me.

I don’t remember chocolate that year, which is strange considering how I’m such a chocoholic. Seriously, if you ask me a week from now how Easter has been this year I’ll just tell you what I managed to eat. However even this year chocolate was eclipsed by my friend alcohol. That’s exactly how the story begins for the Easter of 2012.

I had some time off work and I wanted to blow off some steam. I was pretty comfortable going out in my hometown, there were usually a few friendly familiar faces and the drinks were a lot cheaper than in London. I was enjoying spending time with my family while I was sober, I also made plans to spend some time with Megan and Sophie.

Sophie and I spent a day out in the country in Cheddar while I was back. Although perhaps stupidly on our part we hadn’t realised just how deserted it would be over Easter, there wasn’t really anything to do. Never the less we got to explore and catch up. It was easy to spend time with Sophie. We talked a lot about her, I was interested to know what brought her to Bath and she hadn’t long ‘come out’ so I wanted to know her story. Some of the stuff she came out with was quite funny.

I remember her telling me that when she had told her family her mum and written it off as a phase, just something Sophie was testing out while she was at Uni. What really made me laugh was that her mum didn’t come to this conclusion right away, she had asked Sophie quite boldly whether she had gone down on a woman, when Sophie said no that’s when her mum decided it was a phase. She wasn’t willing to accept she was a lesbian until she had reached that milestone. I thought this was hilarious, luckily so did Sophie.

So back to Good Friday, it was an interesting evening which started out completely innocent. I think I have a reluctance to tell this story so it might take a while to get through it. I was meeting up with a couple of friends for drinks, we’d start at the George and end up at the Wheathsheaves, it was standard etiquette for a night out back home by this point. I wasn’t intending on getting drunk. I wasn’t intending on even really being out late.

Sometimes it feels like being dutiful to go out and see people when you’re home for a while, sometimes the people that you want to see aren’t free and the ones you might not be too fussed about seeing are available. It’s harsh but it’s true, plus I feel like I need to take care of my friends, especially the ones that have been there for me when others have let me down. It really enforces that kind of loyalty in me, that I’ll always slap a smile on my face and down a few vodkas until I’m having a good time no matter what mood I start off in.

I feel like such a dick for admitting that, but there you have it. Friday was that night, I sat in the George and from the window you can see the Wheatsheaves, it’s the only place that was open late at the time so it was the only option for moving on. The trouble was, it looked like it was completely shut up for the night. I was out on the town with a couple friends, it was becoming a habit to meet up with by now and it was hit or miss about whether I would end up completely drink or depressingly sober.

In what felt like no time at all I managed to get completely drunk, then eventually from where we were stationed at the window of the George we managed to figure out that the Wheater was in fact open, game on. The front door was closed and I remember we all had to go in around the back, I can’t remember if the band was still playing in the downstairs bar or not, a bit later it turned into a night with a DJ pumping out cheesy tunes all night. There’s a club above the bar (if you can call it that) yet to this day I have never set foot in it. I prefer to stay in the comfort of the bar area where the alcohol flows.

My drink at the time was Vodka-Cranberry and I was on the doubles and then not too long after reaching the pub I was on the shots, the shots that night were Sambuca. We managed to commandeer a small table by the end of the bar and let the drinks flow, the three of us were laughing and being merry. I can’t even remember what we were joking about. The pub was getting crowded, there were lots of new young faces that I didn’t recognise, some slightly older people home for the holidays, some die hard locals and some slightly younger people that looked vaguely familiar. I guess that’s just how it is with a small town.

I’m still surprised sometimes that everyone seems to know each other one way or another. However it wasn’t long before I bumped into someone I knew. It was a guy back from Uni for the holidays who used to work with my ex Lara. I’d always thought he was a nice guy so we chatted and had a bit of a catch up. He was with a friend and they were both as drunk as the three of us were so we joined forces and the drinking went from serious to deadly.

My friends Kelly and Emma didn’t seem to be on a mission like I was and it wasn’t long before Emma made her excuses to leave for the night, her boyfriend was going to pick her up if I remember rightly, or she might have had plans the next day that she couldn’t bee too hungover for. So after a while it was the four of us, Kelly, myself and the students. It had been a while since I had gone out drinking like a student.

The students were Tim and the girls name began with ‘N’ I’m sure but I find it hard to remember. Maybe it was Nicky or something like it, I’ll go with that. In about 60 seconds or less I remember Tim telling me that his friend Nicky was a lesbian. I filed that bit of information away but enjoyed drinking the night away with them. My friend Kelly never dances and Nicky was up for dancing a bit later into the evening, that would be fun.

I remember talking to Tim briefly about my split with Lara, we glossed over what had happened and talked a little bit about how I was doing now. I surprised myself by realising that, all things considered, I had really been able to move on quite quickly. London was good for me, it gave me the space I needed to really get over everything quite well. We didn’t waste much time talking about her, since Tim had moved away to Uni he didn’t see much of her anymore anyway.

It was quite nice for a time to have such a fun and drama free night back home. It didn’t last. As it turned out the other ex was out on the town, Katy. I hadn’t seen or spoken with her in years and we just didn’t bother with each other anymore, I had realised a couple years before that she seemed to despise me when I tried to make small talk with her at a rugby training session both our girlfriends were at, I hadn’t tried again since but it really did puzzle me that she seemed to go from an ex that was a friend, to vague acquaintance, to completely hostile over the years.

I could live with that easily enough if she ignored me as completely as I attempted to ignore her. However her and her little group of friends seem to reserve this special simple townsfolk look just for when they see me. It’s more of a glare I guess, like they’re trying to look at me in such a way as to make me feel like shit, all it does however is make them look oddly vacant and simple. It makes me laugh to see them look at me that way, it makes me hysterical when I’ve been drinking, and I had been drinking.

I remember joking about it with Kelly. That Katy’s friends Gabby and Beth would glare at me that way when I couldn’t honestly remember having a proper conversation with either one of them. I just found the whole concept of hating someone so much (and they appeared to really hate me) when you didn’t even know them to be ridiculous, I mean, why waste so much energy on someone who should mean so little to you? I can assure you I never thought of them, I couldn’t care less if they were having a good night or not. They seemed to really hate that I was even there enjoying myself, minding my own business.

The only fault I think I made that night was pointing out to Kelly the ridiculousness of it all. That seemed to be a red rag to those bulls. Then I was drunk, and it was a small pub. So at one point Gabby and a friend or two happen to walk past and I’m just being ridiculously outgoing and drunk and say Hello, in a rather stupid voice as she walks past. Her and her friends turned on me in about 10 seconds flat, about as long as it took for them to realise I had said something.

I have no idea who her friends were or what they were called yet they all seemed to know me. Proof if ever I needed any that they had all been saying god knows what about me as they glared. I think they started off by asking if I was being sarcastic… Perhaps a little cocky but I wasn’t being sarcastic. I remember saying “No I’m certainly not being sarcastic, I just thought you were all looking at me like you knew me, I don’t know you but I thought I’d say Hello instead of being rude…” well that really pulled them up short and took the wind out of their sales, they didn’t say much after that but they did glare at my friend Kelly.

Kelly was in a tight spot as she was actually quite friendly with Gabby and Beth really. I can’t say that I cared enough to dislike them, I didn’t ever think of them at all. It just irritated me to feel like someone was watching and glaring at me all night. I did my best to get past it and laugh everything off, just for them to accuse Kelly of laughing at them the next day. They really were quite childish about it, I don’t care who Kelly is friends with, why should they?

One altercation narrowly avoided I managed to get on with my night. The music started to get louder and the drinks were still flowing. Tim and our new friend Nicky kept coming and going and when they were coming they usually came with more alcohol especially the shots. An impromptu dance floor seemed to crop up near the sealed off entrance to the bar and it wasn’t long before Nicky was dragging me to the dance floor.

It wasn’t long either until she was dancing with me like we weren’t at the only pub/club in this small country town, just as I was about to retreat to the bar I found myself up against some railings with her kissing me. I’m not exactly averse to public displays of affection, but to me that might mean holding hands walking down the street, an occasional affectionate embrace or a kiss hello/goodbye. Save the rest for when you’re alone, completely drunk in a gay bar or when you know you’re among completely accepting friends that wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

I think Nicky smoked, I don’t really remember but that would explain the occasional disappearances. I remember enough that we swapped numbers and after a while I discovered that she had worked at the same holiday park as my first girlfriend Katy. I hadn’t actually seen her speaking with Katy that night and I didn’t ask about how well they knew each other, I got a vague feeling that there wasn’t any love lost between them but they had known each other. Knowing Katy she’d probably at least tried it on with her at one point, I didn’t want or need to know the details.

I remember standing at the bar with my Vodka and Cranberry thinking that I was probably going to have to start winding down for the evening if I wanted to make it home in one piece. That was when I turned around and saw Tim and Nicky pouring the Sambuca that I had just tried to refuse into my Vodka drink, I shrugged and downed it. After that, my memory gets more and more foggy.

I kept dutifully returning to Kelly to make sure that she was still drinking and having a good time. After a while it was getting hot, crowded and uncomfortable in the place so I ventured out to the beer garden for some fresh air. I don’t seem to know when to stop when it comes to Vodka so I remember vaguely thinking I needed food, I’d skipped dinner that night in favour of drinking and it was beginning to catch up with me. It was after 1am and Kelly and I had lost track of Tim and Nicky, they had probably ventured out to the club upstairs.

I decided to call it a night and swing by the kabab shop on the way home. I managed to slur enough to get my request for a plain burger over to he guy behind the counter and decided to sit with Kelly in the Churchyard next-door to eat, I needed the full concentration on the food to actually find my mouth my vision was swimming that much.

Now I know that I left the pub just after one, I know that I had food, I know that I made a mistake and kissed my friend (more than once) and I know that I didn’t make it home until about 4 maybe 5 am. The rest is very much a frightening blur. The battery on my mobile phone was dying but not dead, the next morning when I woke up I had a million messages and missed calls yet I couldn’t remember hearing my phone going off at all.

I remember getting home, but I had no awareness of the time. My mum woke up at the sound of me returning home, she saw how drunk I was and before I made it from the bathroom to my bedroom there was a glass of water and a washing up bowl beside my bed. As my brother would say I was in the bathroom a while ‘calling dinosaurs’ not that I can really remember. I liked getting into bed, my room at home had been recently decorated and it was a welcome and beautiful site.

The next day I woke up with a bump on my head and when I noticed the pain a vague recollection of falling over after I had left the pub. I remembered that Kelly had invited me back to hers and we had started walking that way when I’d thought better of it. I think it was around about then that I cracked my head on the pavement. I turned to my phone finally and saw the deluge of messages from the night before and this morning.

It was a bit odd reading through them in reverse. There were voicemails from my parents asking me where I was. They had clearly worried about me since I didn’t manage to get home at a decent hour. If I had been going out in Bath or Bristol they would have expected such a late night and been Ok knowing that I would have been sober and driving. The fact that I’d gone out locally, to get drunk and didn’t make it home until three hours after the last orders would have been called would be worrying.

Snippets of the previous night were coming back to me, I remember Kelly walking me home and that she’d bumped into a couple of guys she knew. I remembered sitting on a shop windowsill for what felt like eternity while they chatted. It was very slow progress heading home, could the ten minute walk really have stretched into 3 hours from that?!

The last message I noticed was from Nicky, it simply said where are you. After I’d left the club she’d clearly come looking for me and couldn’t find me. There was also a missed call, I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t hear my phone going off at the time. I remember replying and saying that I’d ended up in a bit of a state and that I didn’t mean to ignore her, I invited her out to lunch that day to make up for it. Nicky never replied, I didn’t mind.

Then I had some texts from Kelly, one about the bump on the head. She seemed to be concerned that I’d be feeling rough. Yes I was. But more so I was worried that I had blurred the lines of friendship between us the night before, so I cut straight to the point and brutally declared it to be a mistake. We’re friends, that’s all we’ll ever be and I was sorry for the way I had acted while drunk. I didn’t want to take advantage of a friend I was drunk and that was that. She took it really well and agreed that to be the case, however I still feel very uneasy about it.

The following day in my hungover state I remember retelling the events of the night before to Megan. She wanted to meet up before I headed back to London. Her messages were getting more and more confiding. Megan seemed to want to ‘claim back her life’ she was fed up of the relationship she had found herself in. There were on and off like a light-switch, I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t like Rose for my own reasons so I still tried to remain impartial. I only offered support and agreement when Megan told me that she didn’t want to be with Rose anymore. When Megan worried about whether she’d be able to move back to her parents home I assured her and told her to reconnect with them, it would be the only way she would know for sure.

Megan seemed to message me more frequently after that night out. I think I might have been the only person she felt she could talk to during this time. She began to tell me that she was unhappy and waiting for things to end with Rose. Megan told me that she was depressed by her situation with Rose. She felt controlled, like she wasn’t allowed to have her own friends, felt that Rose had never trusted her and if she was ever more than 5 minutes late from getting home from work there would be fireworks. Megan told me about fights, and threats and all sorts. I drew comparisons between their relationship and what it had been like for Katy and I when we were at our worst. It seemed a lot like that first relationship where you don’t love each other anymore but each person is too frightened to let go because that person is all they have known.

I believed everything Megan had told me, I encouraged her to do what ever it was that would make her happy. I promised her that I’d be a friend for her through it all if she needed me. Megan also confided in me about problems she faced with her family, she found the idea of asking them for help difficult. She found the idea of giving up her independence and moving back in with her parents even harder. I think that’s why she went backwards and forwards with the idea of breaking things off with Rose so often.

However what really set alarm bells off was when Megan told me that Rose’s Dad would frequently try to hit on her. That he scared her and that she didn’t like being in their home alone when he’d come down to visit. Yet she was in some way dependant on them and on the rest of Rose’s family, so it bought her silence. Again, I believed her. I pitied the situation she was in, I tried to make her see that she was the only person that could change her circumstances. If she was going to break away from it all she’d have to do it soon while she had the strength, the support and friends. She had made friends with a girl at work called Lucy and she would spend more time with her when she could than rather be at home with Rose, or worse Rose’s dad.

Even now I can’t tell how much of Megan’s story is true. I believed it so completely and I was growing fond of Megan. I didn’t think anything more about it because the situation was just so messed up, but I enjoyed spending time with her when I was at home. After this Easter break the messages between us while I was away in London seemed to step up too. Like I said, I thought I was just someone she could turn to when she had no one else. I didn’t think there was anymore to it than that.

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