I posted something to Facebook last night about the past month of opening myself up. I explained a little, not just what it was, but it had felt like, and thanked those who had listened so graciously to my stories.
It got a bunch of likes and comments, oddly – or perhaps not – every one of them was a woman. None of my male friends made any reference to it, which in itself may be symptomatic of the issue I’m looking to address in myself.
One of the commenters was an old girlfriend from about twenty years ago. We met when she was in an awful, quickly failing marriage. For some reason, she became besotted by me from the very first moment she saw me, in a city pub amid mutual friends. She was attractive and smart, and I was likewise happy to have my head turned. By the end of the night, we were in deep and intimate conversation together and found ourselves in Treasury Gardens sitting on a park bench and snogging as the possums scampered around us.
She left her husband and was determined that I would be her man. I liked her plenty, and we had some grand times – I remember one night returning from a cocktail party fucking on someone’s front lawn because we couldn’t wait to get back to my place – but in those days, and for many years to come, I was equally determined not to be caught by anyone. It seems greatly curious in hindsight.
We were together for a while, attended my step-sister’s wedding together, where she was a hit, but though it was great fun, she gradually realised that I wasn’t going to budge. I never did, with anyone. She wanted more so we drifted away. I remember sometime after getting a message from her she had hooked up with a guy who looked just like me. About 8 years ago we became Facebook friends, and visible to me were the pictures of the children I’d seen as kids all grown up now, and the guy she’d ended up with – I didn’t think he resembled me that much. At times I felt as if I was looking upon the life I might have had.
So anyway, she commented last night, and I responded in a way she would recognise, a little provocative, a little flirtatious. It was only after I posted it that it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any photos of her partner for a while. Maybe it was a coincidence, but then she replied quickly, and by the end of it I think we’ve agreed to catch up for drinks.
This morning, as I caught the train to work my phone dinged again as someone else posted a comment. It was my mum’s closest friend. Wow, she said, your mum would be so proud. I turned my face to the window, tears in my eyes.