Finally getting something sorted out with C.
After a complete month of no communication whatsoever I bump into her at the Muddy Shovels gig at The Duke of Cumberland the other Sunday afternoon, the 4th Oct 2009. I’d bumped into Doug Muddy and the Lovely Kim outside the Neptune on Friday at my usual drink after the working week thing with the other wage slaves and been invited down.
I wasn't expecting to see her at all. I’d arranged to go round to hers “for dinner” after work on Monday and thought I had the day free to ponder on what I would talk about; I was still feeling very bad about myself and not really engaging with my friends too much. They were all of course impeccable and cheery and inviting me out places and going out their way to talk the good talk with me. I was feeling disengaged and distant from it all. The old questions of what, what, what and what the fuck is going on? reared their confusing head.
Exactly a month before she’d texted to say she was coming over to mine to pick some stuff up she’d left behind. I said Brummy John and I were going up to Nottingham for DiY’s 20th Birthday party and we’d be off on our journey by 8pm. She could come over anytime after that until Sunday evening when I’d be back. As it happened we didn’t leave till nearly 9pm and in the meantime C had come round to pick her stuff up and hopefully avoid meeting me.
She knocks on the door. I answer. She’s shocked I’m still at home. “I’m sorry”, I say, “I should have texted you to let you know we were leaving a little later than I’d said”. She couldn’t even look me in the eyes and shied away back down the path shaking her head. She nearly burst into tears. She couldn’t bear to look at me. This upset me somewhat and it lingered in my mind all the way on the drive to Nottingham. BJ kept saying “you all right mate?” and I’d go “yeah”, but I wasn’t. She couldn’t even talk to me? I didn’t understand that?
The week before any of this happened we were in the middle of another falling out. It’s not the conflict but the way we handle the resolution that’s a bit difficult to work out. We both fall back into these presumed positions and seem to just lob grenades at each other. Nothing gets sorted and everything for C is put in a little box to be brought out at some later date to beat me with. I always want to try and resolve as we go along. C will say “you said this 3 month ago and it upset me” and I will get all arsey because I don’t remember saying that and she insists it’s taken her that long to “process” or “assimilate” the information. I think she doesn’t understand me and she thinks I don’t listen to her. She thinks I’m confrontational, I think she’s aggressive; she thinks I’m angry, I think she’s angry blah, blah, blah.
“This has got to stop”, I think she says. We sit down on opposite sofas. We’re actually getting good at identifying the behavioural patterns as they begin to emerge and one of us is normally good at starting to stop them spiralling out of our control. “I agree”, I agree. “It’s the same old same old”. “I agree”. “Shall we just agree to call it all a day?” “OK”. We shake hands and a deep sadness emanates over us like a grey blanket, soaked in relief. “We shouldn’t take this decision lightly”. “I know”. She leaves; a big black metaphoric cloud above the head follows her up the somewhat overgrown garden path. She has one quick look back and she’s gone.
One month later I'm down The Duke. I was in the back garden having a crafty roll up. “C’s just arrived in the bar” my informant rushes out to tell me. I stay and have another cigarette. Probably doing more damage to me than facing C but, hey, I need some thinking time. I think about approaches, about working through potential conversations, about possible escape scenarios, wish fulfilment fantasies. I put the fag out and go inside. I work my way through the crowd, the band has started playing; I see her by the bar. Her friend standing in front gets eye contact with her and warns her I’m approaching from behind with a quick flick of her eyes. She turns and it’s like... the spark is still there? Something leapt in and out of me. Fear? “Cigarette?” she says; I nod and we both head through the crowd to the back garden of the pub. The eyes of both sides of the tiny world we inhabit bore down upon us.
Finding a free bench we go through all that awkward stuff couples who have split up and then see each other again ages later go through; fumbling, fumbling for words, uncomfortable eye contact, embarrassing silences, speaking on top of each other’s words, self-conscious, silly, inappropriate questions. We have a drink. Then another. Then another. We move down to the Neptune after the band finishes and continue drinking, sorry, continue our conversation. It’s the first time we’ve been smashed with each other for ages. One of us always had to stay sober as we always went places out of town that need one us to drive home. We said that it was funny we were getting smashed with each. We laughed. The conversation flowed easier, she was funny, I was mildly amusing but she laughed at my jokes, eye contact was less forced almost pleasurable. She smiled. I smiled.
On the doorstep of the pub it was getting dark. “I must go”, she said. “Me too”, I replied. We hug. “See you tomorrow night for tea?” I kiss her; “I‘m looking forward to it” I wave as she disappears up the street. She has one quick look back and she’s gone.