I’d known of him for maybe 18 months, but only met him face-to-face two weeks ago. He’d been on my university campus as an associate lecturer, read me in the student newspaper, and visited this blog. He did adding on the Book of Face, and I suppose it started how all modern stranger-to-friends-to-maybe-more stories start: he clicked ‘like’, I clicked ‘share’; comments were tentatively made, and eventually private messages exchanged.
Facebook: bringing students and teachers together from around the globe.
The day I left Rome, he left his home, too. The week I ventured to DREAMERSchool he headed to London. Right before I began my own Life From Scratch we did IM-ing.
Where will you be living? he said.
East London, I replied.
No way- that’s where I am, he said.
I’ll be right by Shoreditch, I replied.
Turns out, he’s four minutes from my house, door to door.
We met for a drink. I was scared, so the first time he asked I said I was busy. Then he asked again, you know, casual like.
Shall I show you the local? he said.
I’ve got time for a quick one, I said (wankily).
Nobody says I just want a fella who like, reads something I wrote somewhere, and tracks me down to tell me they want to take my brain out for a drink, and then ACTUALLY HAS A MAN TRACK HER DOWN THROUGH SOMETHING SHE WROTE AND ASK TO TAKE HER OUT FOR A DRINK.
He wasn’t supposed to actually be a normal.
I knew I was interested in him because the next time he suggested we meet up I did my eyeliner a bit flicky, and I only ever do that when I want to make my eyes look bigger when I’m silently asking to be kissed.
We did one drink, and then another. We decided to head off to the next pub, where the talking didn’t really stop, and maybe a little more drink was had, and eventually we ended up at a bar, knees touching, fingertips lightly brushing, conversation going in that nonsensical direction it does when finishing the bottom of the glass becomes an exercise in speeding up the inevitable. When he asked if he could take me to dinner later that week and I said yes, we held eye contact a little longer than strictly necessary.
We left it to find it raining. He held the umbrella and I held his hand.
He stopped walking, and I made an awkward joke. He playfully shoved me out into the rain. I pretended to be outraged. He pulled me back into the sanctuary of the brolly, closer than before. Then it fell away, and he put his face to mine as we both got wet.
But then he invited me to his house for coffee.
Internet, it was an exercise in self-restraint, and the Laura Jane Williams of yesteryear would’ve responded differently to the girl who put herself to bed that night. It threw me (again). That whole side of…things… hasn’t been on my radar for quite some time.
I thought about him when I woke up. And I thought about him all the next day- and a little bit on the day after that, too. And by the day after that I knew I couldn’t ever see him again, because that’s not why I’m here. That’s not part of the dream. I can’t chase a destiny and be what I want to be and love my apartment and living with my brother and make friends and feel like I’m making progress and pushpushpush, just to let it all get thrown to the wayside for a man in a bar who tells me I'm wonderful. Can I?
So I told him so. I said, I should’ve said this before, but I’ve no intention of dating anybody… I’ve come this far (no pun intended) and so I’ll stop this before it starts. I thought he'd be mad, that he'd think I'd deliberately wasted his time. I didn’t think he’d respond. He did. It was kind.
It made me wonder if I’d made a mistake.