A gay indie boy living in suburban South West London recounts his trials and tribulations dealing with sex, sexuality, growing up and getting older

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Past/ Present/ Future. Tense.

I remember watching Mermaids, that film with Cher and Winona Ryder in, when I was very young, and the thing that I have taken with me is when Cher and the little girl say in unison, "Death is living in the past, or staying in one place too long." I remember thinking at the time how unsettling that must be- to keep moving from place to place, but at the same time, it's also clear that the constant moving was a way of avoiding having a past.

It won't surprise you to read that the last few months of my life have been fairly transitional. It's been full of realisations. When I was 20, I firmly believed that by this time in my life, I would be a fairly successful rock star and that I would be coasting a beautiful career high of drink and music and sex. What would happen beyond that, I hadn't quite figured out. My maxim was that I would kill myself when I was 28.

Now I'm less than 18 months away from 28, and I can't tell you that on my 28th birthday that I won't have that lingering thought at the back of my mind. The last couple of years I have just felt so... Well, old. It feels like I have lived for a lifetime already, and potentially, I will probably live another two of those lifetimes in just one. Killing yourself, it has seemed to me, has always been a way of reading the last chapter of the book before you finish, so it doesn't matter about the plot twists and interesting character developments, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you know exactly how the book will end, and it will end on your terms.

The sad thing about suicide is that it almost always (and inevitably) gets misconstrued by the people around you. So much so, that if you did it, you would have to come back to life to explain yourself as little bit and then die again. Which, you know, just isn't possible.

It's an idea I have discussed late at night with many of my lovers through my whole life, most of whom reply in a tone of desperation, asking me to consider a world for myself beyond that age. That there is living left to do. One lover even wrote a note to me and posted it, and it simply said, "I wish you could see a life for yourself beyond 28. Don't give in to your teenage self."

At the time I remember being strangely defiant about the note. I was 22.

I made a lot of decisions based on this incredible self belief that this was my destiny- this was how it will happen. I ended relationships and made caustic statements, I acted arrogantly and with a sense of superiority. However, I'm not going to tell you I had this massive change of heart recently because that's just not who I am. I still believe that I will be successful at *something* in this life. I feel that so far I've been digging for oil, I just haven't quite hit the reserve yet. Maybe I have just been approaching it in the wrong way.

Maybe I have reconsidered killing myself. I mean, you get to this age and you realise that life is just so... Long. People say that life is short. And yes it is in the respect that we only get one and it's too short to worry about doing things that will make other people unhappy. But apart from that, youth is just a period of your life, and at this stage, I really have spent more time as a child than I have as an adult. And as life goes on, it brings different stages. And I want that phase of contentment. It's out there for me somewhere, and perhaps it is something completely different to what I think it is, but I want to wake up one day and realise that everything is fine and there is nothing I have left to do or achieve. That day will exist in whatever form it takes and I look forward to it.

I also know now that the future is not a place. It is not somewhere you can drive to, or get to, or that the image in your head suddenly turns into reality. Life is mostly about the drive, but when you're constantly 5 steps ahead of yourself and punishing yourself for what you're not doing, it's really hard to appreciate the view.

I'm starting to think that after losing two very close friends who I loved perhaps more than I should have, and with another disaster bound to happen, that you will lose friends. All the time. You will love so many of those people but ultimately you will learn that people are transient and fairly fickle depending on their personal circumstances. And those circumstances can and will drive a wedge between you. Loyalty can be returned but will often be betrayed in the end. No matter how much a friend will assert their selflessness, they will do what is best for themselves. It is much easier to get over a lover than a really good friend. Sometimes the cuts they leave can be deeper, and their betrayal is far greater. And, even though it's incredibly difficult, you will make new friends in time.

But it doesn't make giving the old ones up any easier. And it doesn't make it easier when you realise you are no longer an important part of their life, and instead become a side show attraction. I believe you can never 'downgrade' a friendship. You cannot play second fiddle when you're used to coming first. When that starts to happen, it's over.

I am actually an okay person. I can be a stubborn shit head and very rude and indignant when I want to be, but most of the time I am okay. I am too smart, I'm well-humoured and creative. I may dress ostentatiously and be a bit brash and talkative, but there really is nothing wrong with any of that. Most of the time, you'll find it's other people who have problems that they want to impose on you. Leave them to it- it's their problem.

Whatever I think, especially when I'm down on myself, I've already achieved a great deal. I have just achieved an MA, I live alone in my own place in London and I support myself financially, I never rest on my laurels and I always try and improve myself. I may be a fantasist and live in a dream world, but I am also very driven and I never stop working to achieve those dreams. And if I carry on this way, I'm bound to hit on something in this life, even if it something small, it is my something.

Life is just now. And I have nothing else but this space. So I have to stop worrying about other people's shit and just get on with it. I just have to be Allan. Because, quite frankly, that's better than a lot of other things I could be.

I still have work to do. I'm not finished. I'll be back soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good things don't always come to you

So it’s Monday morning, I’m at work and I feel like I’m at school. Not because of work, no… I mean, I do have a lot to do, but it’s all the other stuff that’s getting my stomach in knots and the adrenalin pumping round my body.

This morning I woke up next to my boyfriend and checked my phone. The message read:

“Strange thought for a Sunday night, but I think you were the love of my life. And it makes me happy and a better human being for knowing that x”

Unfortunately, I had obviously lost the number a long time ago as it came up unrecognised. This sudden sense of dread came over me. Then came the inevitable question from boyfriend, who has obviously just seen the blood drain from my face, “Who is it from?”

“I don’t know,” I said, as I jumped out of bed to get ready.

But I could guess.

I started to ignore the fact and I jumped out of bed to get ready, suddenly taking stock of everything. Suddenly, somehow, I was in a relationship. A relationship for the first time where I have that residual feeling inside me that I know I love him more than he cares about me. And in a sense, I am doing it for the self-sacrificial punishment of it all. I’ve hurt so many people in my life, I think it’s time to grit my teeth and take it from someone else. I’ve already tried to go twice now, but part of me knows it’s wrong. And the other part just feels that he won’t let me go.

Healthy, non? I can hardly believe I am typing, or reading the words back to myself. I feel so insecure and needy and that is just not me at all. And yet somewhere out there, there are people reflecting on me as ‘the love of their life’. I know of a few men who would jump into bed with me, if not the chance to be with me. And all I think is why doesn’t he know that? Why isn’t he so madly crazy and feeling so lucky to have me? The truth is I know what I know. And this is a crutch, perhaps. A new favourite game I play. How long is it before he’s forced to tell me he doesn’t love me? In the next 3 months? When we move in together? After ten years of marriage?

We parted at the tube station in the rain. I give him a hug while some commuters shirk at our sexuality. I wish we were back in bed together in each other’s arms. I wish that he was telling me stupid stories, or cooing pillow talk at me. I wish we were laughing and talking about our imaginary puppies. I wish we were exploring each other’s bodies. But no- it’s a London relationship that’s lived in time constraints and schedules rather than romance. I turn my back because it’s too difficult to stay.

Nicotine withdrawals tug at me and distract my thoughts. I think about my job, and wonder what is happening with my life. The quintessential London boy and self-proclaimed ‘mock star’ is falling from grace pretty rapidly. My looks are fading, my hairline’s receding and so is my enthusiasm for life, and I’m only 26. I’m only 26 and I feel like I died about two years ago. I wish my job meant nothing to me, or meant everything to me. Sitting at the halfway mark actually makes life worse. You can’t devote yourself fully to your creative persuasions or your career and, as a consequence, both suffer.

Most of the time, I am tired. I can’t function. I go to work in the morning and I’m tired. I go to lunch and I’m tired. I come home and I’m too tired to make dinner. So beyond making money for myself and just about surviving, I don’t really do anything. I do not feel I have made a contribution to the world when I come home at night. I do not feel as though I have done something worthwhile and good that people will notice in 20 years time. I do not feel as if I have made new friends or connected with someone.

Everyone’s abandoning me, and it’s because of all the things I have said and done over all those years of my life. I finally feel like I’m paying my penance. They’ve finally seen that I harbour a lot of ugliness behind that sheen. And at the same time, I’ve been alienating myself from all my friends and relatives. There is something growing between us and creating distance. I don’t want to have to deal with it. I don’t want to talk about it. I certainly don’t want to face facts. I am vulnerable, and so I turn away from everyone to hide it. Because I am not a vulnerable person. I have always been strong, single and independent. Anything less would be a disappointment.

They’ve all changed, and I just can’t stand for life to turn out this way. People are having better success than me at the things I love to do, and my competitive streak just can’t stand it. And me? Just bitter. My friends are fed up with my arrogant antics and they migrate elsewhere, while I acrimoniously chastise myself for being that person- that open, honest and so, so judgemental person that looked down on my friend’s choices. Because, after all, I was so certain of my own glamorous future that I could afford to be this condescending.

I start to wonder if it really is nicotine withdrawals or just a horrible emptiness and dread. I start to think of things that would make me feel better. Running away to a life in a deserted country cottage in Suffolk with a lover I could fall into. I could run away from all those expectations I ever set up for myself, and from other people’s expectations of me. I could slow life down to the pace of the hour hand of a clock, and finally enjoy every minute instead of drowning myself in the immediacy of pleasure and decadence. Decadence and damage.

I think about moving to another country and becoming someone else. I have already reinvented myself several times, why not do it again, setting myself lower standards and having a normal life. I think about how much easier it would be to love the life I lived; to turn down the pressure on the steam cooker until I could see the days going by me. I think about being a quirky Brit in New York, or the ex-pat in Amsterdam, or enduring 10cm deep snow in the Canadian wilderness. I think about how luxurious it would be to step out of my skin.

I think about all the lovers I said goodbye to in the naïve ignorance that I could do better. There is no such thing as ‘better’. I held back from so many people I could have had a loving friendship with because I believed there was ‘better’. I stuck the knife in people’s hearts because of ‘better’.

Someone told me the other day that there is no such thing as success. It’s a construct on which we judge ourselves. And while that may be true, it provides very little consolation for a man who was a boy that was way too ambitious, and too big for his own boots. I wish I hadn’t wanted so much in the first place. I expected too much in life and I was bound to feel cheated.

I feel as though life is punishing me. This is my come-uppance and I must suffer it for any balance to be restored. I think I used to believe in destiny and now I find it hard to keep finding excuses for the things that happen. They all seem like a needless sadistic experiment on behalf of Fate. I question her now… If she’s there, why is she leading me down this path? What’s at the end of it? Have I not suffered enough?

I tell myself that things are not that bad. I am alive. I have job that I don’t hate. It’s just a bad day. And tomorrow things will be different. Tomorrow I’ll try to forget any of this is really happening. Good things? They don’t always come to you.