Running away to Cathedral City

I’m just now home from a weekend away. Yup, did a bunk from work. I know that’s not cool, particularly just now as Loraine is away. But, I probably have a sick day or annual leave or something coming to me. Plus, I needed a bit of time off, just to think. So I did what all good little girls do, and I ran away to Daddy’s house to escape it all. But before I talk about a weekend with Dad (which was actually kind of uneventful), I should tell you how I ended up on a train to Newcastle.

When I left my old bloggy woogy, I was about to meet Philip so that he could give me the key to the house for while they were away. I went to the front and knocked on the door, and Philip answered with his usual cheerful demeanor. I suddenly realised that I still haven’t talked to Loraine properly since LadyBohemia died, and now I’d have to face-up to the awkwardness. What do I say? Do I give her a hug? I touch of the arm? Just a handshake? No, that’s stupid, but it still crossed my mind.

I went into the house, and Philip said they’d be away for at least three weeks. The plants were to be watered once a week, and he gave me a list of contact details: plumbers, electricians, etc. Just incase the house floods while having an electrical fire. He also gave me practical dates such as the days the bins would be emptied (for rubbish from the office), and showed me where the fuse box was an such. (I’ve put together an outline/schedule of when the bins go out and the plants need watered so I don’t forget. I’m terrified they’ll come home to dead plants and a house full of rubbish.) He also asked me to have a sift through the post. Of course, I could take care of Agency stuff myself, but if anything about the house looked important, he asked that I email them. You know, all the basic house sitting stuff.

Philip continued pointing out where things were (mostly stuff I already knew about), and I waited for Loraine to appear. I became a bit preoccupied, and just about stopped listening to Philip as I was beginning to obsess about talking to Loraine. Yet, she never turned up.

Philip was droning on about something then started to walk up stairs. As I hadn’t been paying attention to what he was saying, so I wasn’t sure if I should follow him. Half way to the landing he turned and said, ‘I can’t bring them down. You’ll have to come with me.’

‘Bring what down?’ I thought. Damn, I should have been listening.

I followed him up the stairs all the way to the top floor. He went into LadyBohemia’s room and I followed.

‘You don’t have to decide to day, because it’s not like we’ll do anything until we’re back in the country. But have a think about it. Take any two you like, [Loraine]’s already pulled out the ones she wants.’

Take what?? Damn, I wish I had been listening.

Philip continued when I didn’t speak, ‘I know a few other people who would like to have some of her paintings, but they can wait until we’re back. So you get first choice.’

What? He wants me to have two of LadyBohemia’s paintings? I was flabbergasted. I can’t believe they even thought of me. It’s not like I’m family, or a long time friend. And I get first dibbs.

There were canvasses everywhere, on the walls, leaning against furniture, stacked several deep leaning agains the skirting board. I walked around, looked at a few, and asked Philip if I could think about it. Make my choice, and then take them home later in the week.

He said that would be fine, then added, ‘You meant a lot to her. She looked forward to your talks.’

My eyes started to well up. I had no idea she felt this way about me. I certainly knew how much she meant to me, but I didn’t know that the feeling was reciprocated.

I had to suck in a breath to keep my eyes from welling up. Philip stood there for a moment then excused himself, ‘If you don’t mind I have a lot to get on with before we leave tomorrow.’

I said I’d let myself out, and as soon as he walked down stairs the tears began streaming. There were a box of tissues on the dresser, so I took one and tried to clean off my face before leaving. On the desk next to the tissues was a tiny canvas, maybe four inches by four inches, and in it was a picture of the conservatory from the point of view of the garden. Inside the conservatory was a tiny person typing away at a laptop. I took that painting and slipped it into my handbag. I’d chose the second one later in the week.

On the way back to my house, I realised that I still hadn’t spoken with Loraine. I hate these situations, but then again I guess no one likes them.  What do you say to people when a parent dies? What if you say the wrong thing? Did I say/text the wrong thing to HarryPotter, and that’s why he hasn’t texted back? Perhaps I shouldn’t have texted him. Perhaps I should just suck it up and call him.

My mind was racing while my hand was dialing. It’s like they were acting independently of each other. The phone rang, and I did nothing but wait for an answer. He picked up, but rather than saying ‘Hello’, or even (as he knew it was me because my name probably came up on the phone screen) ‘I’ve been meaning to call you’, HarryPotter opened with, ‘You need to stop bothering me. I haven’t texted you back for a reason. I don’t want to talk to you.’

That was it. Nearly. He didn’t hang up, instead he waited for me to say something. But what could I say. I had been a prat. He had been through a lot. And I blew it. I opened my mouth to apologise, to argue my non-existent case, but nothing came out. Instead of speaking I hung up the phone.

Now my legs were independent of my brain. I was thinking about how I should have explained myself. How I should have argued that I regretted that fight last February. I should did all I could to be consoling. I should have stated that that was in the past, and as friends we should move on. I should have even argued that he was being ‘mysterious’ about his ‘stalker’ when we saw each other last, and how was I to know that he had a lot on with his family?

My brain thought as my legs walked, and I looked up to find that I was at the Dundee train station standing in front of a ticket machine. I was going to Glasgow. I was going to explain in person.

Some of you bloggy-woggy followers may be thinking, ‘This doesn’t sound like our rash mature NFTI. She surly wouldn’t do anything this stupid.’

Well, I would and I did. Every time I think I’ve matured a little, that I can handle stressful and emotional situations, something happens and I act like an irrational teenager. I have no idea what I thought I would gain by going to HarryPotter’s flat. Actually, yes I do know what I thought would happen — I thought he’d see me and automatically forgive me. I thought we’d be friends like we used to be. I thought we could talk about his dad, and I could talk about LadyBohemia, and I’d have my shoulder back. Yeah, I’m a fucking idiot.

In the hour and a half it took for the train to get to Glasgow, I began to realise that this was the stupidest plan — EVER. But I was stuck on a train and a battle between stubbornness and fear of rejection ensued. One part of me yelled, ‘You’re a fucking mentalist for going to see HarryPotter. When you get to Glasgow, get back on the train and come home.’ The other part of me calmly said, ‘You’ve already paid £30+ for a ticket. You’re not going to waste it. Plus, you’ll regret not doing this.’

My mind battled it out for the rest of the journey, with the stubborn side winning. The train came into Queen’s street, I went into the underground and came up at Ibrox. As I walked towards HarryPotter’s flat, I started to shake. The weather was pissing with rain and I wanted to go home. But I’d come this far, and now my brain wasn’t on autopilot, instead it was on peptalk.

As I got to the entrance of his building I noticed that someone had wedged the door open. Luckily for me, I wouldn’t have to buzz the flat. I could just turn up on his doorstep. ‘He won’t slam the door in my face if I’m standing there. Surely not’, I thought as I climbed the stairs.

I knocked on the door just once and heard his footsteps. The door opened, and there he was. When he opened the door he had a slight smile on his face. He’d lost a little weight, but not much. His hair was ruffled and he his stubble was more of a beard.

‘Hi,’ was all I said and his smile slipped away.

‘I thought you were the pizza.’

‘I’m not,’ I said. ‘But I can go get one and come back.’

I expected him to step a side and let me in (I was soaking wet, and had come all this way after all), but he stood his ground instead. ‘I thought you were living in Dundee.’

‘I am,’ I said.

‘Then why are you here. What do you want?’

If I was going to win him back as a friend, I had to do it now. ‘I can’t leave things the way they are. I want you back as my friend, and I just want you to know how sorry I am about everything. What happened between us. I thought if you saw me, you’d know that I feel really guilty, and I’m really sorry.’

‘That’s the problem,’ he said. ‘It’s not always about you. I don’t care what you want. You weren’t there when I needed you, and I can’t be bothered with your drama any more.’

And he slammed the door in my face.

I had two options. Bang on the door and make him forgive me, or go home and never speak to him again. I raised my hand to pound the door down, when from behind me came the pizza guy. I couldn’t possibly do this with a stranger standing there, so I slipped back out onto the street and waited for him to leave. Unfortunately, when he left, he completely shut the door behind him. I’d now have to buzz up to HarryPotter’s flat. Not quite the same. I had been defeated and it was time to go home.

I got on the underground and popped back up at Buchanan Street. I didn’t want to be alone. In a few short months, I lost one of the best friends I’d ever had and a new friend I’d only just gotten to know, and I would never see either one of them again. I didn’t want to go home, so I contemplated taking the train toEdinburgh, then over to Fife…to see Fife. I walked over to Central station and stared at the board looking for the next rain to Edinburgh, but was this the right thing to do. Fife was having his own drama, and I certainly would be intruding. He’d texted earlier in the day, but there was a match on as well, and I thought I should leave him to his football solitude. It’s probably the only solitude he’ll get with Helen home.

As I stood looking at the destinations across the board a train to London Euston flashed. Home. That’s where I wanted to go, home. I could go home. Why not? I could take some time off and go home. Or, I could go home and work out of theLondonoffice for a few days. Just for a change. Hangout with D, and see Mum.

Thinking of Mum got me thinking of LadyBohemia and Loraine. I couldn’t just take off and go home. It wasn’t fair to Loraine. I said I’d watch her house, pick up the slack on her clients, and be there as an employee and a friend.

But I could go to Newcastle. I could go see my Dad. If I got a ticket to Carlisle, and another to Newcastle, then I could be at Dad’s house in three hours (provided he picked me up from the train station, and the trains were running on time). The journey was an absolute fortune, but I needed a break. A real break. One where someone else made me the tea, and there were no potential step-children, or ex-friends, or employees dead mothers.

As I stepped onto the platform I was almost euphoric. Time off. Then about half way toCarlisleI remembered that I didn’t have any extra clothes, toiletries, my laptop, or even a book to read while on the train. I pulled LadyBohemia’s tiny canvas out of my handbag, which had kept it dry from the rain. The character in the conservatory looked so sad sitting alone typing. I couldn’t see the expression on her face as was too small, but she was a bit hunched, and her ginger head cocked to one side. She looked like she was missing out on life.

I put the canvas back into my hand bag and, instead, I stared out the window and watched the rain pelt the country side.

The weather began to clear-up the closer we got to Newcastle, and by the time I got into the Cathedral City both the sky and the ground were dry. As we pulled into the station, I rang my father. It rang and rang, and rang some more, then went to voice mail. Shit. I didn’t even think that he may not be home. Fuck!

I got off the train and rang him again. I didn’t even know how to get to his house by bus and it was too far to take a taxi (I’d already spent a near fortune on my impromptu getaway.) Shit, no one was answering. I left a voice mail and sent Dad a text, then waited around the station for another twenty minutes hoping that he’d ring me back. Nothing.

It was getting late, so I left the station and made my way into the city. I didn’t even have the work Blackberry or I could have looked up a cheap hotel, like a Premiere Inn or something, but nothing. I walked for a bit hoping, beyond hope that I would find something, and like Stonehenge rising from the hills a brightly lit Travelodge sign seemed to rise above the city. My hotel hero.

I checked in to the room, freshened up for a bit then went out into the city. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, or if Newcastle alone was the best idea. But the streets weren’t too crowded and no one bothered me. It began to get dark, and I found my self down by the river, walking beside a strange mix of trendy restaurants and closed businesses. I was getting tired, and it had been a long day so I turned back towards the hotel.

Just as the Travelodge sign came into view my father called, ‘What’s up doodle-bug?’

Do I tell him I’m in town? Or just have a chat? I opted to tell him I was in Newcastle, at the Travelodge. That I had planned on staying with him, but when he didn’t answer I got a bit worried and found a hotel.

You’d think he’d be happy to see me, but instead he was none too pleased that this was an unplanned visit, ‘How can you do such a thing?’ ‘That is so irresponsible, turning up in a town without any plans.’ ‘What if I hadn’t been home?’ ‘Blah, blah, blah.’

We planned for him to come pick me up in the morning and take me back to his and Paula’s house. Saturday night in the hotel was glorious. A bed all to myself that was also not a mattress on the floor and a television that gets more than four channels that I don’t have to retune every five minutes. It was heaven. Fife texted to see if I was up for a chat, but I said that I’d decided on an impromptu visit with my Dad and wasn’t able to chat (such a lie, as I was actually lounging on my giant bed in the hotel at the time), but I’d ring him on Monday.

On Sunday, I borrowed some clothes from Paula, and we picked up some underwear and a toothbrush at ASDA on the way to Dad’s. We spent our Sunday on the sofa flipping through the television channels while Paula baked cupcakes. (Paula is one of those people that’s into the latest housewife trend. A few years back she was making jewelry, then it was scrapbooking, and she had a brief stint as a ‘photographer’. Now she bakes small intricate cakes.)

We decided that since I had an open ticket back, and I spent Saturday night in a hotel, I wouldn’t go back to Dundee until Monday. I wasn’t sure who I needed to call in order to pull a sicky. Normally, of course, it would be Loraine, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Instead, I borrowed Dad’s computer and sent an email around to everyone saying that I was unwell, but I’d be in the next day. Sending that email was a weird mixture of guilt and relief.

While Dad and Paula were at work on Monday, I propped LadyBohemia’s canvas on the table by the sofa while I read two of Paula’s trashy romance novels and watched butt-loads of daytime telly.

Dad brought me to the train station when he got home from work, and after three trains I’m finally back inDundee. I’ve already received like a million texts from Fife wanting to know when he can see me this week. I’ve ignored all of them. I’ll text him tomorrow. It’s been a long emotional weekend, and I can’t deal with him just now.

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