Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Past Is A Foreign Country

Personal though this blog may be, I've always been slightly wary about baring my soul too freely on a public site for the consumption of complete strangers. My friends know me well and know that I'm pretty much an open book but, more often than not, in conversation with people who aren't as close, I'll be more guarded about discussing feelings and, you know, crap like that. I'm more than happy to go into detail about my likes and dislikes, my obsessions and endeavours and the events of the day, but I have generally shied away from talking too much about personal relationships on here....

And today is no exception.

No, not really, just a little standard example of my "humour as defence mechanism" schtick which will (maybe) be a bit lighter on the ground today. Spurred on by recent events and nudged towards it by a coincidentally similarly themed post from Mr Irish Gumbo, your humble narrator is going to break one his own blogging rules today.

A few weeks back, I got back in touch with an old flame from the days when I was a young and reasonably be-haired lad of around twenty years of age. Actually, I'm already going to pick myself up there on terminology - "old flame" isn't perhaps the best of descriptions. It would be closer to the truth to say that we were a mutual infatuation, one that burned brightly for a long time but never amounted to anything more than an impassioned kiss under the mistletoe once cold December. This comes as a surprise to several people who knew me at the time and assumed that we were a couple. Alas, at the time, it never came to be. A large part of that was the age difference between us - I was an awkward 19/20 year old and S* was a gorgeous 29/30 year old (also the mother of girl only ten years younger than me - another reason, I suspect, which may have given her pause).

She was this wild whirlwind, all mad laugh and infectious smiles. She was the sort of person who people were naturally drawn to; this was both a good and a bad thing as the crazy tended to follow S around as much as the fun did. Eventually, as with anything that burns brightly, we began to fade. I embarked on a long-term relationship that would see me through most of my twenties and she had another child and married someone else.

We spoke sporadically over the first couple of years but I think the fact that there was always something lingering between us that had never fully been realised caused me to consciously pull away. I was with someone else and S. was the past.

I thought of her from time to time over the years, occasionally wondering in an idle way what might have been. S kept in touch with a mutual friend from time to time but I seemed to lose her number whenever I got it or my friend would forget to give it to me after she called. Maybe part of me just wanted to keep the rose-tinted memories and not have the reality change them. I don't know.

This all changed at the beginning of the year. I finally did get back in touch and arranged to go round and see her. I was nervous. It had been ten years since we'd last seen each other. Back then, I'd been hairier atop the head, nuder on the chin and a damn sight skinnier than I am now. A decade of beer and curries has definitely wrought it's work upon my physique. But I went.

And she was unchanged. It was like I'd stepped through a door into 1996 and here it all was again. She still looked amazing, this beautiful person who through some miracle actually seemed to be interested in me. That spark between us was still there. All those old, long-forgotten feelings came flooding right back. We spent the day catching up, drinking heavily and entertaining her youngest (now eight years old). We fell easily into old patterns, laughing and joking as we used to. When time came to leave, she wanted me to stay but that didn't feel right. I left with a promise that I'd come back and we exchanged a more-than-platonic goodbye.

Four days later, I went back round, arriving at lunchtime. But this time, for me, it was different. The longer I sat there, the more I began to see that, while she was the same gorgeous yet mad person, I really wasn't that besotted young boy anymore. The past ten years had changed and molded and shaped me into the man I am today; a boy no longer. I realised that, while there will always be a part of me that still loves her, the rest of me wasn't prepared to deal with the mad and the crazy that goes along with that.

I left fairly early and we spoke a few times afterwards but I haven't spoken to her in the last couple of weeks. A part of me feels bad for not speaking to her more often - due to circumstances, she doesn't really get out much and I think I was one of the few normal people in her life - but, for the most part, I know that it's the best thing for both our sakes.

The past is a foreign country and I did things differently there.

* Obviously, not her full name but that will suffice for this blog


Anna Russell said...

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! (I'm not trying to be in the slighest bit sarcastic saying that, this really was a touching post).

It's amazing how we change over time, and it can be wonderful to have a chance to meet up again with those people who have been instrumental in that change.

I'm glad you decided to break your own rules and post this.

Anna xxx

That Baldy Fella said...

Cheers, me dear! Don't worry, I didn't read any sarcasm into it.

Don't think break those rules too often, though - back to pointless cack tomorrow, I'm sure!

foxxy said...

you were totally right, you should keep your feelings bottled up... nobody wants to see all of that.

i'm kidding, this was lovely. i tend to avoid people from my past for this very reason. i'd be heart broken if the past that i've romanticized was deflated.

don't feel bad for not keeping more in touch, if you want to preserve a beautiful memory instead of clouding it up with awkward amendments that's your right.

That Baldy Fella said...

*puts stopper back in emotions bottle, prepares blog about fart jokes*

Yeah, you're right, it's for the best. Fortunately, it didn't deflate old memories for me - just made me realise that I'd moved on from that place in time...

Irish Gumbo said...

You honor me, sir, as your inspiration.

And THAT, my friend, was one of the best posts I have read recently, on any subject!

Funny, poignant and spot on. "The past is a foreign country" - gold, man, gold.

(bowing)Well said!

TishTash said...

Umm...feelings? What are feelings?

That Baldy Fella said...

IG - Very kind words, sir. I thang yew.

Tish Tash - They're something that girls have, apparently. Thought I'd give it a try. Didn't like it. Back to sarcasm. And broken sentences.

Belle said...

Older women rock!
Even if you don't love us anymore.
Beautiful you tosser. Really nice..

That Baldy Fella said...

Now, now, don't be generalising, I still likes the older women...

Cheers, me dear!