I had been packing for a couple of hours when Goatee rang. (How do you move somewhere with two large suitcases, and leave six months later with two large suitcases, two slightly smaller suitcases, a massive shoulder bag and a carry on? Where did all this stuff come from?) Anyway, Goatee rang, skipped the small talk, and immediately asked what my plans were, was I still going to London? I said that I was, but only for a few weeks. I told him I was going to travel, and gave him a brief overview of my itinerary. I think I actually heard a smile (if that’s possible) when I mentioned seeing his son.
He asked who I’d be travelling with, so I decided to momentarily play coy. I said, ‘Oh you know. I’ll be travelling with the sexiest person I’d ever met… Betsy…oh, and Sarah…’
He laughed and said, ‘You know what I mean. Is he going with you?’
I said, ‘No, he’s not going with me. What makes you assume he was?’
Goatee changed the subject. He said that I should come over. He’d pay for a taxi. I
wanted needed to see him before I left.
For some reason, I didn’t knock. I just checked the latch, it was open, and I went right on in. Walking into that house felt like going home. Even though I didn’t live there long it felt like mine. I felt comfortable walking about, the placement of the furniture, the smudge on the coffee table, where the mugs were kept in the kitchen, the little chip at the corner of the fireplace. It all felt personal.
Goatee was in the kitchen, and when he saw me it wasn’t with surprise, it was like I’d just come home from a day at the shops. Natural, normal, like I was meant to be there.
He walked over to me, pulled me towards him, and he hugged me. When he pulled away he kissed me on the nose. Then he leaned back, looked at me and said, ‘What happened here?’ He touched my cheek and I winced.
I had completely forgotten about the bruise on my face. I had it pretty well covered with make-up yesterday and this morning, but I guess the make-up had worn off. I told him that I fell, hit my face on the arm of the sofa. I don’t think he quite believed me, so I said ‘Actually, I’ve been in a bar room brawl and you’d better watch out.’ He kissed the bruise very lightly; I closed my eyes and thought about HarryPotter kissing that exact same spot.
We went into the lounge; there was that red leather sofa. He sat down and pulled me on top of him. He was smiling, and it was nice. I had come to say ‘Goodbye’, but that smile would make it difficult.
Sitting across his lap, I said, ‘Thanks for helping out. You know. With all that going to London to get the Met involved. Must have been quite the experience.’
He shrugged it off, and said that his friend with the Metropolitan Police owed him. They were old Uni buddies. It was no big deal. The hardest part was the drive, and his brother did most of that.
As usual, everything with Goatee seemed effortless and natural. He squeezed me and I put my arms around his neck. I looked into his eyes, and they were so bright. I told HarryPotter the other day that I fell for Goatee because ‘He paid attention to me and because the sex was good.’ While that’s not completely untrue, looking at Goatee’s eyes made me realise the other reason I fell for him. He may be loads older, but he has the eyes of a man thirty years younger. They sparkle, and when he really loves (or maybe just wants) something, you can see it in his eyes.
But I couldn’t let his charms get the better of me. By driving across the country to clear my name, he’d nearly made up for cheating, but I couldn’t forgive infidelity too quickly. I said, ‘I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for me, but I can’t just forget about the fact you cheated. Or that you believed I would.’
‘I can only do so much to make you trust me again. The rest is up to you,’ then he kissed me really softly and said, ‘The fact that you’ve come says it all. It says we can get over the past.’
That wasn’t why I came, but I began to think that maybe it should have been. He was warm and kind, and I could see our future. I could see kids. I could see Goatee travelling with me. He would give up his job in a heartbeat — he doesn’t really seem to like it, and his son says he doesn’t need the money. He would come to London for me, or Goatee would make staying in Glasgow an adventure. As I sat looking at him, I thought ‘Goatee isn’t afraid to try new things and venture out into the world. He’ll travel anywhere and love every minute of it.’ I remembered us dancing at the Palace in Vienna, and I remembered the wonderful way he is with kids. I thought, ‘And when we’re ready, in the not so distant future, then we’ll down.’
I put my hands on his face and I kissed him, I kissed him hard. He tasted sweet, and his beard rubbed raw against my chin. He slid his hands down my back and he pulled me close to him.
He shifted me over and he stood up, picking me up with him. He took me upstairs and laid me down on the bed. He rubbed his hand up my thigh, and I put my hands on his shoulders, his neck, his cheeks and finally his head. I could feel the stubble on his head, and it made me think of HarryPotter’s wild thick hair. I wanted to put my hands in HarryPotter’s hair; I want to kiss HarryPotter’s lips; I wanted HarryPotter’s hands running up my thigh. I lightly pushed Goatee away.
He asked, ‘What’s wrong?’
Sitting up I said, ‘But what’s next? I mean, what happens now? This is all quite fast.’ These questions seemed like good excuses, but I knew the real reason I was pushing him away. Goatee wasn’t the man I loved.
‘You move back in. I’m sure you can find a job here in Glasgow. You won’t have to worry about money if you don’t find something straight away. I’m sure we can figure something out.’
‘But I was going to go travelling,’ I said.
‘Yes. But now you’re not,’ and he kissed my neck, but I pushed him away. I couldn’t believe he just dismissed my plans.
I sat back and looked at him, and his eyes were still shining but they had deep creases around them. Goatee wasn’t in the throws of youth. It wasn’t fair of me to assume he’d be willing to travel the world. He’s already done that. And it certainly wasn’t fair of me to assume he’d give up everything when I’m in love with someone else.
‘This isn’t going to work,’ I said. I didn’t feel like I needed to say anything more, and he didn’t ask. He laid down beside me and sighed, ‘I’m sorry to hear it.’ Then he rolled over on his side and asked if I would stay the night.
I said I would, but I didn’t take it any farther physically. My decision was made and I didn’t want things to be more difficult. I did love Goatee, but in a nostalgic way. His touch was comfortable, but nothing more.
As Goatee spooned around me, I thought about HarryPotter. I wanted to travel, but I wanted him. I wanted him so badly. I thought of Glasgow and I thought of waking up in the morning next to HarryPotter. I so wanted HarryPotter’s arms around me instead of Goatee’s.
Perhaps HarryPotter was right. Maybe we should wait, save some money, and travel in a year. In a year we could go for longer than four months — we could go for a full gap year.
I laid in Goatee’s arms until he fell asleep, then I tip-toed downstairs and out the door. As I left Goatee’s I wasn’t sad. I’ll probably never go back to that house, but I am okay with that. I needed to see HarryPotter, because I knew what I wanted.
I came in quite late, and HarryPotter was in the lounge; he’d been waiting up. I sat down on the bean bag and told him that I was going back to London tomorrow. I needed to start making plans for travel.
He grunted and said, ‘I waited up because I wanted to say “sorry for how I acted at the café.” But really it doesn’t matter does it.’ Then he got up to leave the room.
I asked him to come back. I wanted to talk. We needed to talk.
But he just muttered, ‘What’s the point. You went and fucked him, so it really doesn’t matter what you and I have to say to each other.’
I was so mad. I came home to make amends. I had considered changing my travel plans, giving up everything and staying in Glasgow for him, and he acts like a dick.
I yelled, ‘How fucking dare you. You just waited for me to get home, so you could give me back handed apology. You’re 26 years old, how about you just fucking grow up for once.’
He spun around and came back at me, ‘Grow up! For fuck’s sake. You can’t even take care of yourself. You always need some man to sort things out for you. How about you grow up and learn to take care of yourself rather than rely on everyone else?’
When I’m pushed I say things I regret, ‘At least he did something to help. That whole time I was being done for fraud you did fuck all. At least he stepped up and acted like a man.’
He was turning red, ‘I did nothing? I picked you up, again and again and again. I let you cry on my shoulder. Fuck, all I ever do is let you cry on my shoulder. Fuck that’s all you ever do, cry. How about you stop acting like a child.’
‘You’re a fucking bastard.’ That was it. It was now or never, ‘If you loved me. If you really cared about me, then you’d actually do something about it rather than lie or stammer or generally act like a passive aggressive dick. I thought I loved you. I asked you to come travelling with me because I love you. But you turned me down. So what do I do? I fucking decide to give up everything and stay here with you. That’s what I was coming home to tell you. But you know what? Fuck you. You’re a selfish, self absorbed little fuck wit. Stay here in this shit hole for all I care.’
I turned to walk out the door, but he yelled. ‘Fuck you,’ and he threw a half eaten bowl of cereal across the room.
I turned, ‘No fuck you!’
‘If you loved me like you say you do, then you wouldn’t have spent the night at Goatee’s house. If you loved me, you wouldn’t expect me to change my life for you. Everything is about you. Well, what about me? Did you ever stop to think about how much it hurts me when you talk about him? When you see him? You want everything, and you can never make up your mind. I’m supposed to profess my love, when you’re over there fucking him.’
‘I DIDN’T SLEEP WITH HIM’ I screamed.
HarryPotter just said, ‘Whatever’, and stormed into his room.
I’m packing my stuff just now. I’ve never wanted out of here so badly. I never ever want to come back to Glasgow. I never want to see HarryPotter again.