A Gap For A Friend

I sat at the breakfast table at his parents house. It must have been over ten years ago. It was a sort of farm house, you know, with low solid dark wooden beams ready to hit your head on a the bottom of the stairs and different caverns of staircases and short corridors leading to the various bedrooms with the clunk of floorboards below.

The two dogs wandered around the table almost certainly looking for scraps toast falling to the floor or may be bacon was a regular thing that I wasn’t aware of. They were huge dogs. The one was grumpy and sauntered around and walked off to the living room looking for somewhere to lay while the other was more active and would go anywhere it pleased. I love dogs but these pair made me just a little nervous and a breed that give good reason to be, so I’ve heard. The only things that prevents any further fear of that pair is that I’m unlikely to ever visit that place again and the dogs are probably now – dead.

At the end of the kitchen was an AGA cooker that looked well used and not just some upper middle class shiny thing to show off to their friends. I got the distinct impression his parent didn’t really have friends over that often and were comfortable in their own company, in fact they were so remote that I doubt many people made that sort of journey very often and the very few locals were the ones who they spoke to.

I remember getting to the house in the first place, a short motorway journey followed by a length of dual carriage way, through a small village in the countryside and then through narrow lanes passing fields for miles on end until I reached a small triangle junction with the hamlet postbox offering one of a limited ways to talk to the outside world, at least at the time. Then just passing a few old cottages and there it was, probably complete with an oil tank for winter heating I suspect – it was proper remote for our country.

I only remember this because my friend’s photo appeared in my feed on social media – he was back in the country. We haven’t spoken in over ten years and I always wondered if I was too demanding for keeping in touch and that’s why he stopped talking as our friendship fizzled away. But when I saw this photo pop up out of the blue I thought for a moment about whether our friendship ended because may be he just knew about the gender thingand that it wasn’t something he could deal with and may be just found it weird. I’m pretty sure he knows for reasons I’ve spoken about before.

When things were going quiet between us his ex-girlfriend and I started speaking. Over the internet of course, I’d never met her, he’d only spoken about her when he was briefly back in the country and photos would pop up in my feed, when we were actually socially connected at the time, and she was some five thousand miles away. She liked to bitch about him and I couldn’t help reciprocate. Nothing horrible or nasty, just the niggles we both had and I think we both got it out of our system. May be he heard about our niggles and that’s why he was fed up. That’s where I thought it had gone but then I started thinking that these are things we get over and surely we’d have spoken again since – or may be there was more to it?

He was a hint of a ‘girl in every port’ sort of person as he globe hopped and while I was missing his energy, enthusiasm and ideas, as time went on I realised there were something I don’t miss either. We had all met at University in the nineties and while we hung around in a group socialising when we graduated and got jobs, about four or five of us, they all slagged him off when he wasn’t around and I always stood up for him. I guess that’s why I’m a bit peeved at least I was until recent years when I just moved on – then this social post reminded me.

So was it gender stuff that he didn’t like or was it me airing my thoughts to his ex? Who knows. He speaks briefly to one person I’m still in contact with but I think even that is few and far between as he finds new people every time he moves on. But may be that is just it – moving on. People do move on in life and people out-grow their friends either because interests change or intellect continues to grow for them where friends find a place and settle for that routine and things just aren’t compatible anymore. I know there are good friends I had in my school days that I don’t keep in touch with and them not with me either. It happens and may be that’s just it.

It was a peaceful day that time I stayed at his parents house. I remember some of it so clearly yet I’ve no idea why I actually stayed there. I remember the layout of the living room, the garden with it’s rockery and the fields beyond where we got chased by sheep that thought we had food for them. It was one of the calmest days I think I’d spent with him, may be being around his parents or in the countryside had that affect. Practically every other occasion was either marred with some drama queen disaster (because it sounded cool to have a drama – I think you understand), there were many, or had to be exciting in some way, which sometimes was good.

Whether he knows about my gender identity issue, which at that time was a really hard time for me, doesn’t really matter. By tomorrow I’ll have forgotten about him once again and not being linked in social media anymore I’m unlikely get reminded any time soon. But whatever the reason was it’s a reminder that may be there is a gap for a new friend.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Doves In A Glass

It was strange. We were in an old music record shop in London and I was flicking through some vinyl. I said to my Dad, who looked a bit bored, “What’s up?” I said, “Do you want to do something else?”
“I’d like to see something funny in Amdixon.”
“Amdixon? Where the hell is Amdixon?”, was it some suburb south of the river that was known for it’s cultural nightlife – much in the theme of Camden, north of the river?
I tried to work out what something funny was. Was it a comedy venue he wanted to go to or was it a statue in the centre of ‘Amdixon’ that was the centre of attraction?

I woke rather drowsily. I’d not dreamt like this in a little while and most dreams fade away as the morning hue through the curtains fades-in and for the life of me I wouldn’t be able to remember what the dream was about. But that moment stuck like it had actually happened and that name, ‘Amdixon.’ I pushed myself to sit up, cleared my sleepy eyes and grabbed my iPad. ‘Amdixon.’ Was it spelt like that, like Dixons or was it Dickson. No, definitely an ‘x’. I remember thinking that in the dream.

Of course there was no such place and to wake on my birthday with such as strange dream was one thing but to actually go to the effort of searching the internet to see if there was a place was probably just as bizarre.

It was a setting for my day though and my worry was, despite feeling quite high and happy that moment, that spending a birthday alone, due to this lockdown, that things would get low and I’d feel depressed, bored and unable to motivate myself to do anything paralysed with fear of anything I do would be disappointing.

I had a feel though that it wouldn’t be that way. Family and friends had sent birthday cards in plenty of time and I even had presents delivered in some form or another. I had something to open and we had video phone, each person using a different media to call me.

Sometimes with my birthday it feels like I need to do something for myself, something girly that reaffirms my gender identity and celebrate it at the same time that makes my birthday have that cherry on top – affirmation. Whether it’s wearing those nice shorts that I’ve nearly worn through to the thread, painting nails or plaiting hair – just something. For some reason this year it was neither of those. It was a large bottle of Prosecco and a tall fluted Champaign glass chilled ready for the evening; luckily a warm evening that was like summer.

While the air was still spring fresh and my best friend and his wife video called. An opening of birthday presents and a long chat and laughs that set the day the way it should be. Later in the morning a couple of hours video chat with my Mum and Dad while sharing a virtual coffee, it was just like our coffee days.

In the afternoon while the sun kept things hot I rode my bike across the fresh green Welsh fields and down around the outsides of the village to an old small viaduct with water rushing through underneath, all within our ‘once a day for one hour’ limit. If it were another time it felt like I’d have wish I’d bought a book and something small to sit on and read for a few hours while the sun light trickled through the trees and caught sparkles on the crystal clear water.

By the evening I was into my third video call with Maddie, if you’ve not read here before – ex-who-knows-now-best-friend, and we shared an impromptu virtual dinner. We timed our meals to finish the cook so we would dine together. It was never going to work, how would we time this, one hundred miles apart with two different meals, one in the oven and the other in the frying pan. Somehow the stars aligned and we were timed perfectly with me blowing a candle out at the other end.

We spent an age online chatting and my day had just melded into a new day and evening as things became fluid and spur of the moment. We said our goodbye later on and I decided to finish my birthday as I had planned. The one thing I had planned was going to happen.

The evening was still warm and dusk wasn’t too far away. I flung a thick blanket on the decking in the garden, set up candles dotted along the perimeter and moved the table aside that I had virtually dined with Maddie. I slide out the door with the big television putting it in the corner of the house outside where televisions don’t go and scattered cushions about the place. It was time for an alfresco movie. It had to be a classic. Something comforting and comfortable. Something funny but warm. Something I liked.

I filled my glass again for the umpteenth time with the Prosecco that, whether because it was my birthday or because it was a good bottle, was the best I’d tasted. I pulled a few DVDs half way out along the shelf which became a make-shift short list. I considered a few that I loved but I knew in my hearts of hearts that I’d be watching Notting Hill. The DVD played and the darkness crept in silently around me while the candle lit the bubbles in my glass rising happily to the top almost like they were doves being set free.

Laying back on the cushions while the film played out, surrounded by candles that were now the only source of light, I glanced up at the night sky. The stars were out and The Plough was straight above shining down like it had come to visit. In all these years, despite being the birthday I’ve been most alone, I’ve never felt less alone; perfect.

Until next time, stay safe.

Hannah x