... the best you ever had, the best you ever had is just a memory. And those dreams - not as daft as they seem, not as daft as they seem, my love, when you dream them up...
I did my life back to front. I’m convinced of this. If my theory is right, then I am steadily regressing towards old age. By the time I’m eighty, I shall be happily hot-wiring disability carts and mixing crystal meth in with my Birds’ Instant Trifle.
Luckily for me I live in a city where such a regression goes by unnoticed. I’m camouflaged in the place that defines itself by its bohemian and hedonistic status. I can stay as young as I like, for as long as I like. I can work in my unstable, irregular job, have my increasingly peculiar writing habits, inhabit my strange social life and incestuous relationships and no one bats an eyelid.
Brighton is the Dorian Gray of the South-East. And I might think that because I now live in Hove, sandwiched between The Willows nursing home and Otello's, the organic free-range, local shop where they charge four pounds for a tin of Polish soup made from lard, that this might alter things. But it doesn’t. My anonymity here makes it even easier to disappear into my life, into my small attic flat where I can hear the waves at night if I concentrate really hard and no permanent lover enters.
Which is of course what I’m really getting to here. Stable relationships. Don’t you just love ‘em? Cosying-up of a Friday night with your fifth DVD from LoveFilm because, in a fit of Let’s watch all of Herzog’s masterpieces, even though we turned them all off half-way last time, you ticked the box “Unlimited’. And now you’re sitting there, wishing you’d gone for 40-Year-Old-Virgin instead of watching Klaus Kinski lose his mind on a festering boat with some monkeys.
I digress. So you’re sat on the couch, with your 2-for-1 pizza and your Ben & Jerry's, unable to move because of the twelve thousand calories in your stomach. And then, out of the blue, there’s one those inexplicable moments of deep affection. Perhaps one of you casually brushes the other’s ear with your mouth as you whisper into it, or one of you flashes a smile that says you doesn’t really care about Klaus, or the monkeys, or even that great story about Herzog getting shot during a live interview. No. You both know it. Because for tonight, and for the foreseeable future, you are each other’s and will be sleeping in each other’s arms (or at least within shoving distance) until dawn breaks.
Awww. I remember that. The days of long-term relationships. Now I know at least one person who might read this and proclaim “But you had a bloody relationship of two years up until just over a year ago!” I agree, and maybe I shouldn’t be talking as though I’ve not known that kind of intimacy for a decade. It’s kind of insulting to those who haven’t. And a lot of long-term relationships are far from happy. But it’s more that I’m interested in how, aged fifteen, I embarked upon a relationship that was to last nine years and then followed it up with one that went on for five years. And how, after they finished, aged thirty, my ability to sustain a relationship has been patchy at best. At the age when everyone else is either getting married, popping out babies or, in the least, mooning over them in Costa, I’ve been having ‘scenes’, ‘flings’, ‘things’, ‘goings-on’, ‘special friendships’ and the worst, ‘connections’. This is the kind of thing that should have disappeared in my mid-twenties along with living in communities, sharing boyfriends and thinking I could get Enlightened by having a nervous breakdown in India.
But I'm looking on the bright side. In fact I'm reclaiming my ever-increasing inability to move towards any kind of romantic stability, (as well as dignified job status, secure financial standing etc). After all, as numerous people have said to me recently, a slight twang of pity in their voices “Hey, it’s all good writing material!” Oh indeed it is. And not only that, I’m realising what my greatest fear in life is (apart from obvious things like tidal waves, climate change, choking to death on cupcakes, and all those other things I don’t want to tempt fate with by mentioning). It’s ending up stuck. Bored. Trapped. Claustrophobic. No way out, even if you know where the exit is. Like in Batman, when he's locked in a room and the baddie presses a button and the ceiling starts slowly coming down. I've been there and I don't want to end up like that again. Like the subject of this Arctic Monkeys song I quoted at the start of this post.
We all walk a wobbly line between sharing and loneliness, and we walk it whether we're in a relationship or not. And when does closeness turn to settling down turn to dependence turn to choking with indifference on your pork chop every Sunday? And at what point do we solitary commitment-phobes stop running?
You used to get it in your fishnets/Now you only get it in your night dress/Discarded all the naughty nights for niceness/Landed in a very common crisis/Everything's in order in a black hole/Nothing seems as pretty as the past though/That Bloody Mary's lacking a Tabasco/Remember when you used to be a rascal? …