This follows on from my previous post, First Boyfriends.
So there we were. I had left college and so had ex1 as he had been fired. He job hunted sporadically; neither of us signed on and we kept cashing cheques on my bank account that we had no means of paying for (sorry Lloyds). I didn’t have the strength to say no to him. I think he’d already had his cheque card removed. I had moved in with him and his flatmate and at some point we all had to move out. I think ex1 had a long-running dispute with the landlord who then threw us out at the first opportunity when we had rental difficulties.
But to be honest it’s all a blur. We moved in with my parents for a month or so but my mother made it quite clear she didn’t want us there. Ex1 got a job project managing a show that started off in London, near to where I live now, and then toured the country. Whether this was before or after being thrown out of the flat I really cannot recall. I quite enjoyed doing the show once the crew realised I knew nothing. was there as ex1’s sidekick but was quite willing to have a go at it all. Being on tour also meant that I didn’t have to worry about what I was doing with my life.
After that we ended up in Oxford. Ex1 got a job with some theatre nearby and also had ideas about going back to college to study some level of engineering so that he could design the hydraulic systems used for the big stages on London. He knew the one man who did them all and did ask him for advice. He also asked one of the biggest West End producers who he had worked with to finance his course but he said no. I got a job working in the book department of W H Smith, having applied to all the “proper” bookshops in Oxford and not heard back.
We were there for a year or so, in a fairly horrible flat that got broken into once and I don’t think we ever finished unpacking. We got into debt. I was earning £60 odd a week which barely covered my costs. Ex1 drank half of his wages but I had yet to really realise what was going on with him. I hated my job, being scornful (as I still am) of Smith’s not being a proper bookshop and kept hunting around for another one. There were a couple of nice people there with whom I got on well but there were also some young lads in the storeroom who used to tease me for smelling. I don’t really know what the issue was. I’m fairly sure I did use deodorant (not every day?) but cheap scratchy polyester shirts and an overheated workplace combined to make me sweat a lot.
I eventually gave notice at work. Again I can’t remember if that was because we were going to leave or because I was so fed up. Oxford was a bit strange. I bumped into a couple of people from primary school at work, only they were in Oxford to get a degree while I was just working a shit job. I found that comparison difficult. I did find the most fantastic and cheap second hand bookshop in the covered market and I did spend some of my income there.
I think we moved straight from Oxford to Harrogate, where ex1 had got a decent job with some relocation expenses provided. Whether we moved back to London in the interim I have no idea. At some point in all this I realised that my parents had moved abroad again but I don’t remember them telling me. I left my favourite red high heels in the cobbler’s as we didn’t have the time or money to go get them before leaving.
These were a dark few years. I don’t think about them and have deliberately forgotten most of the details. Even sitting here, trying to remember the order of events I struggle. It’s amazing how little of these few years I remember.
It’s easy now to see how I was caught up in a sequence of events that left me feeling powerless to shape my own destiny. I wanted to work in the theatre, but had little support from my parents. For whatever reason I then chose I shit college. I split up with one boyfriend who had moved across London for me and had a brief relationship with another who was unsuitable. I then started another relationship with someone who was also unsuitable but who seemed to provide what I needed at the time. I felt completely lost and that ex1 was the only thing in my life that made sense and would keep me afloat.
He had some of the worst characteristics of my father. Indeed 1son said to me the other day in a big flash of understanding “Oh my god you did marry your father!” He was telling me how he thought his father had a huge brain, was vastly intelligent but who spent a lot of time demonstrating his intellectual superiority over other people in a patronising and irritating manner. He also likes to do things his way.
I was struggling to understand ex1 but I also liked feeling needed. We went out together to the pub and I still saw drinking as a social thing. I was aware that he drank whisky at home but not really how much or what that meant. I recognised his family as dysfunctional and we talked about his family and mine in an attempt to understand. I thought he was going to look after me as well as inspire me.
Got that wrong, didn’t I.