An old Valentine’s memory

I wrote the post below on Valentine’s day, six years ago. Reading old blog posts is always interesting (for me – almost certainly not for anyone else) as a snapshot of a time and of a person. Someone I don’t always recognise but the day I look back six years and feel that that guy is pretty much exactly who I am now will be a sad day indeed.

A few things strike me reading this. The first is how earnest it is. The easy thing to do would be to make fun of that (as I do at the end of the post) but if it was overly earnest and sentimental in 2006, it’s infinitely more so today. Irony, sarcasm and cynicism can be corrosive, especially when they come too easily, and that slowly changes us in ways we don’t realise. Whether it be love or religion, we need to feel and we need to believe in something greater than ourselves.

The second thing that I think is that I am extraordinarily fortunate to have had these men in my life. Happily, two of the men I write about have met my current boyfriend. Knowing that the people I love tend to hang around in my life – well, you can’t ask for more can you? It also strikes me that I met none of these men on the internet. I think I’ve only met one boyfriend online, which isn’t because I particularly have a problem with that but it definitely seems to make things that bit more difficult and that bit more cynical. It really can acquire the feeling of ‘shopping’, especially in a place like London where there is already the difficulty that people are inclined to believe that something better, something perfect, is just around the corner if they only keep looking.

Thirdly? These songs still remind me of these people and specific moments with them. I guess things like this are part of why I get so irritated by the argument that pop is necessarily ephemeral. The best pop (and the best music) stays with us for as long as we’re able to remember and to feel.

And my fiance? ‘Mine’ by Taylor Swift, ‘The Promise’ by Girls Aloud, ‘Rocket’ by Goldfrapp spring to mind as songs I’d write about. But I’m not going to do that this evening!

2006

I love him, I love him…this time i’m gonna keep it to myself…this time I’m gonna keep me all to myself

Stephen was my first serious boyfriend, and the one song I’ll forever associate with him is Another Chance by Roger Sanchez. This one (‘Pagan Poetry’) reminds me of him too, for very specific reasons. I dated him for weeks thinking it was nothing more than a bit of fun, all the while frustrating him with my seeming lack of interest in the whole thing. Then he went on holiday for a fortnight, and his absence hit me like a rock slowly rolling over me. I’d never experienced feelings like it; feelings that coloured entire days, feelings that altered time. I can still remember my explosive excitement about him returning, and it was during that week that I told him that I thought I was falling in love with him. Things were good for a couple of weeks, but I was too young to see the subtle changes that were taking place just beneath the surface of things. It was my first real insight into the crude adage, ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’. When I had seemed aloof and unattainable, I’d held an allure and power over Stephen that disappeared when my emotions were involved as well. We were both out there now, both getting messy. For the first time I learned how emotions can take you over and make you lose sight of yourself, and I was beginning to understand the careful power struggles that would prove so frustrating in the coming years. I’d bought Vespertine while I was with Stephen, and it was afterwards (a word that cannot contain the end, which involved tears, promises, realisations and filmic dashes to catch trains) that this song jumped out at me. It made so much sense…to love someone but want to keep it hidden, keep it safe where it cannot grow out of control and threaten to consume you. I listened to it many times when he left. I’d like to think I have a better understanding of love and relationships now, one that perhaps isn’t so self-defeating. But who’s to say? 

…that’s the pain that cuts a straight line down throught the heart, we call it love

There’s a bit of theme in most of the relationships I’d consider ‘serious’ in that I haven’t realised my feelings for quite a while. Or more to the point, I didn’t let myself realise my feelings. And so it was with Anton, a man who was impossibly sweet-natured and innocent whom I messed about no end. Partly this was to protect myself – he was over from Sweden and spoke of moving back at some point, so I worried over this unspecified date rather than just enjoying the moments. I never really let go of this until he finally did make a date to return to Sweden (partly because our relationship had broken down). I’ll always remember the night before he left, the last night we spent together. We just lay there in the darkness, looking at each other. We were completely without context and without restraint. I understood so much then, so much of what I’d done wrong and would never get another chance at. I didn’t regret it, as such, but by God I learned a lesson. It was Anton who first introduced me toHedwig & The Angry Inch, and ‘The Origin of Love’ always takes me back to that night, and the golden Summer’s day sitting in his flat watching it.

We were sure we’d never see an end to it all…

But of course love isn’t only about partners. ‘1979’ reminds me of a friend and a time that was just indescribably important to me. He hurt me a lot, but I wouldn’t change it.

…it’s not like we’ll never know love

Moments can change songs forever. Previously this was a pleasant B & S song that tended to drift by me. Now it’s forever soundtrack to one of the best evenings of my life with the man I have gotten closest with to feeling that I really understand ‘love’. Awww.

I never felt magic crazy as this


I remember that time you told me, you said, ‘love is touching souls’. Surely you touched mine?

And that sense of understanding is best captured in these songs – ‘Northern Sky’ and ‘A Case of You’. They affect me so strongly, love just pours out of them. Two sides of love – the euphoria and the resignation. Idealising love is never a good idea, but together these songs are just devastating.

Well, wasn’t that a mammoth, earnest and quite possibly emo post? But allow the indulgence, it was a pleasant trip.

2005

I wrote this exactly 7 years ago, about how I met my then-boyfriend. That didn’t work out but we’re still good friends and the story is pretty sweet so I thought I’d post it here. It’s a nice little reminder that every relationship is worth something, in the end.

I just watched Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind again and, as before, it made me sad and happy and tearful and brought a big grin to my face.

Anyway, last time I saw it was before Mark came back up, so watching it now I saw it from a bit of a different perspective. It made me want to share the tale of how 
It was a Friday night in the Art School, back when Abnormals Anonymous was still held there and was still very popular. It was the tail end of a period when me and Chris were going to the Art School pretty much every weekend, and indeed he was with me that night. Also present were some of Chris’ friends and my brother.

I never went to Abnormals with the intention of meeting someone; I just really enjoyed it and it was the one night of the month where I could be guaranteed to get stupidly drunk. I guess the invariably awful ‘avant-garde’ acts they put on there had that effect on me. I think this one particular night (in 2003) was my brother’s first ever night there, so I stuck by him a lot in that protective I-want-you-to-have-a-good-time way that you sometimes do. Chris, on the other hand, decided that he wanted to set me up with someone and was dragging men over every fifteen minutes. I was both touched and amused by his behaviour, but I wasn’t really in the mood so politely excused myself from the men he left to speak to me.

Then Chris got speaking to Mark’s sister, who he took quite a shine to. The fact that she had a gay brother just made her even more perfect, and so it was that I found myself dragged over to meet her and Mark. I was instantly drawn to him…I’d even go so far to say as I was initially rather in awe of him. He was like no other man I’d met before (certainly no gay man) and I loved the speed and substance of our conversation. He invited us all back to a party and we accepted, and everything looked like it was going well. As we left, however, my brother started inviting people back to our flat, and people were accepting. Even Chris and his friends, who had initially accepted Mark’s invitation, decided to come back. I had not long moved into the flat and felt that I should go back also rather than disappear with some people I’d just met, so I invited Mark and his sister back to ours. They declined, saying they had to get back to their party, and we went our separate ways.

What happened next is my own personal Eternal Sunshine… moment of the kind I’m sure everyone has at some point. As me and my brother walked away from the art school, planning to get a taxi, my brother turned to me and said, ‘Do you want to go back with him? If you want to it’s okay’.

I stopped and looked back after Mark, knowing that I did want to go and find him but knowing that I didn’t know him at all and it was probably stupid. I knew there was something there, some tiny potential that I’d seen somewhere deep down inside. Not even knowing how to explain what I was feeling, I said, ‘Oh it’s okay…we don’t even know where the party is anyway’.

‘We’ll find it…we’ll follow some other people’.

So, my brother shouted on Chris and co and off we set, walking towards the West End following a general direction that a crowd of people were going in. I kept a look out for Mark but wasn’t holding much hope of finding him.

Then we walked past a shop on Woodlands Road. I looked into the doorway and there was Mark, coming out of the shop. He looked up and saw me and smiled, and started walking me and my brother back to his flat.

When we got there it turned out that the party was across the road, and Mark had no intention of going over to it. He’d only asked us back to speak more to me. My brother swiftly cottoned on to this and left, not even telling me he was going. I realised after about five minutes that he was missing and called him, feeling bad that he’d left. He told me that he knew all along that Mark had only really been interested in me going back; he didn’t mind, and he wanted me to enjoy my night.

And enjoy it I did. Though one other happening worth mentioning is that Chris and his friends did go over to the other flat, and attempted to come back over to Mark’s later on. Me and Mark were in his room by this point and Mark shouted for his sister to let them in. I don’t think she heard and so they knocked on the door in vain for a few minutes. When it became clear that they weren’t getting in….Chris pissed through the letter box.

Oh yes.

It’d be possible to over-think these things…after all, if i hadn’t gone to the art school that night, if Chris hadn’t met Mark’s sister…etc etc. But it still makes me smile to this day that me and Mark would probably never have met again if my brother hadn’t intervened, even thought he had no real reason to do so.

There are other moments like that, as it’s certainly not been a smooth journey that’s led to me and Mark being a couple. Moments that shine out like diamonds in a haystack. But I guess they’re for another time.