Happy Birthday Former Sweetheart
It is your birthday today. I very rarely forget it. Even though we have not spoken since the last time i saw you. That night that you told me you were moving back to New Zealand with your new girlfriend. The one you met at work while we were still together. You came home drunk and told me about meeting a girl from where you were from. I was totally unaware and clueless. I replied quickly with a ”Did you guys discuss the motherland?”
I was so quit witted.
Your birthday sticks in my mind. It could be because you used to say that when we got married it would be on your birthday. You said that that way, you would not forget our anniversary AND that your birthday would not be only about you.
It would be about us.
I was lying in a bed in a love hotel in Osaka a few weeks ago, with my someone. Just checking my social media whilst I had wifi. My friend who is now a mother of twins and living interstate, had commented on a photo from ten years ago. It was such a shock to see you there in that photograph. You looked how you always do in my memory: young and shiny haired with that smile you only seemed to break out when I was close by or talking my talk. It was a lets get physical party at an apartment i fitzroy. Held by the girl who was becoming a new friend. I had wanted to go to the party alone and without you. It is still in my nature to do this, go on solo adventures in order to make sure im still me and to see where i can improve. This never did sit well with you.
You called as I was on my way and ended up coming to the party. It was a fun night. That photo captured that. I still remember when you walked into the apartment and saw me chatting to some guy called Rob. I liked Rob, he was fun to talk to and knew a few bands that i liked. He had seen Elvis Costello live and that had impressed me. In the photo that Kelly shared You are standing up with a grin and Kelly and Scerby ( her new boyfriend) were standing behnd Kim and I who were standing in front of you. Kim and I are standing face to face but not looking at each other. I am shouting silently at the ceiling and Kim has groped my breast for the photo. It is just a bunch of kids in thier early twenties. A moment that was captured forever.
It made me wonder as i commented ”Back when I only had two kidneys.” If you had seen the photo. Did anything like that ever pop up and shock you a little with the powerful nostalgic punch of sadness?
It was on your 25th birthday that you asked me to be your girlfriend. I had only met you three weeks before and spent a total of two nights with you. It was such an ego boost for me. I could not believe that some 6ft 2 dreamboat was so into me after only two meetings. Or could I? Im being an unreliable narrator again. The truth is that even though i had only had two sleep overs with you and not gone all the way, i kind of just… knew. I was on teaching rounds at a small country school for three weeks after meetng you. When the 12 year olds asked if I had a boyfriend.
I told them yes.
Thank goodness you did ask me as soon as i got back to Melbourne. Otherwise that would have been an inclination that I was not so stable and simply latching on to things that gave me even a hint of validation.
Whilst doing that teaching placement, I was staying at my parents farm. I was doing placement that was to make up for a failed placement. I had bombed out pretty bad with a few of my classes. I had given you my parents home number at the house party we met at. The house party that changed your mind about leaving Melbourne and going home. The party did not change your mind. I did.
The tiny girl with black hair and a short tartan skirt with the torn hem and lace up doc marten boots. You said that when you saw me you wanted to take me into the toilet cubicle and fuck my brains out. Consentually of course. I was so flattered by that when you told me six months after being together.
I gave you my parents number Because my shitty nokia would not get reception out in the wide rain starved yonder. This was before facebook and twitter and smart phones. You did not even have a mobile phone when we started dating!!. I used to go to a phone booth on Brunswick st in order to call you at work or your house in Kensington.
So it was your birthday that we started it as a couple.
Your 27th birthday was spent together as well. This time we had only been broken up for two days. My stuff was still at your/our house. I was staying at a friend’s place. What the heck were we thinking? trying to spend the day together. On those concrete steps leading to Melbourne Central station shopping complex. It was a very cold day and all i wanted to do was go home with you and forget about all this break up nonsense. ”What can we do now?” I said.
”Go home and have sex.” You said.
Oh, i wanted to so much. My pride was iron clad and so was my resolve. I laughed and removed my knee and body awat from yours. I had to do that.
It was the right choice. We had to break up. We had to stay broken up. We were not right for each other. Your love made me believe that I could be loved. You were not perfect. I was not perfect. I do wonder if you still have the acoustic guitar i got you. The striped t shirt i got for you and gave to you on the birthday we spent together post break up. I still have that dress you picked out for me at that store that no longer exists. The purple one with white polka dots and white straps with purple heart heart button on each strap. The record player you got for me did not last. The speakers were shit and frankly I think you got ripped off by whoever sold you that.
The biggest questions for me now, on your 35th birthday. Ten years after us, is this: Are you good to your wife? Have you quit smoking weed for her? Do you take her seriously and treat her as an equal? I really hope so. I would love to have some drinks with her and hang out. I sometimes daydream about hanging out with you and her and us totally hitting it off and creating one of those affectionate bubbles of joy that two women falling in sausage sister love with each other, can create. Even if one of the women is still committed and in love with said sausage. I would love that. I would love to have her love me and I her.
I don’t know why i blamed her. She did not know me or have any connection to me. You did. I wonder how it felt for her back then, when you went to Japan together and you got records for me. How did you spin that? ”Oh, i have to get her something, babe. The poor kid is bereft without my love muscle. I just need to give her some records so she feels less forgotten.”
Or, you could have been as confused about your feelings as i was back then and simply trying to be good to two people at once and that never works out the way you want it too. Especially when one of them is me.
I will never forget what you said that last night i saw you. We were walking up Rathdowne st after sharing a dinner at a pub. I had crawled into your lap Like it was a safe island and cried as you hugged me.
I walked along side you staring at your hands hanging at your sides. You were twitching and flexing your fingers with nervouse energy. I had asked about her, about what made her such a perfect replacement for me in such a short time frame. ”She is not depressed. ” you say.
You tried to say more but i did not want to hear it. I had heard enough. It was for the best. All of it. You got what you had wanted. And I got what I did.
I got Melbourne. I got a new sense of freedom and new friendship circles. I created more and wrote more and made silly and reckless sexual partner decisions. I did all the things i had to do alone in order to be better equipped to deal with the kind of love i deserved.
You also finally came clean about something that totally shocked and appalled me. ”I never quite smoking bongs.” You said. ”I smoked them every night that we were together.”
I stare wide eyed and numb as a self defence mechanism. I had already cried in front of you enough.
”Don’t act like your upset about it.” You say.
I was upset about it. I cannot trust people in my life totally as a result of that. When I saw your homemade bong in the garage. I asked you about it. You told me that it was being used by our newish housemate.
He had not lived with us when i first voiced my concern about your weed taking habit. You told me you would quit right then and there. I was so niave and over sure of my power to help you quell a very serious addiction. More fool me.
I guess you simply wanted to keep both your loves and not have to give either of them up. That simply meant that you allowed me to brazenly talk about how easily you had given up your weed addiction. Mind over matter and all that. I was so proud of you. I cringe at my own stupidity.
That the housemate who used your bong. He probably got stoned with you a heap of times. The whole house knew. And kept it from me.
But, oh my gosh you could be such a beacon of defence for me at times. The way you always seemed to know when to hug me. The big secret we share. I think i may be ready to write about that soon. When I do, it will be out and then your wife can know a little bit more about how wonderful you can be. If she does not know about the secret already. It is such a great story. I would understand if you have.
Did you know that while you were getting married at The Grand Canyon, i was in hospital.
I looked at the photos while sitting on my hospital bed, waiting for the nephrology team to do their rounds and the infectious diseases team. I was the interest of a lot of medical teams at that stage.
You both looked great together. Like you were meant to be standing next to each other. I never looked that good standing next to you. It made some People think you were a pedophile.
Remember that drunk guy at St Kilda Beach that day? He walked past us and raised his VB can in salute to you. ”Takin’ your daughter out? Cool, man, cool.”
That was a thing that would make us laugh for ages after.
Sometimes I wish I could simply catch up with you in person again. It would not be to get you back. It would be to simply show you how happy i am.
So, happy birthday to you, my first very real and important former sweetheart. I hope that you are as happy as i am.