Saturday, 7 April 2012

As everything changes, I stay the same.

Friday morning.

The thing is, I knew it was a preamble for, well, the rest of the weekend. Which given the monumental changes going on in my life, was probably not going to be for the best. That'll be why I wasn't skipping out of Contrary Towers at 8am to catch an early train out of Kings Cross. My heart, frankly, was not in it.

My prevarication did of course mean I could nip to Messrs Tesco and pick up a couple of things I realised I'd missed the evening before, and I had promised my flatmate a bacon sarnie for when she returned from her run.

As you do.

Honestly, bacon fried in olive oil with a the sandwich made with a slice of fried bread is utterly epic. I realise this marks me out as being distinctly northern and, equally, unlikely to actually lose the dress size or two I'd like to lose. But I digress.

The oracle that is National Rail Enquiries reckoned if I could get to Liverpool Street by 10:49 then I could get the slow train to Cambridge. Excellent! Having discovered three weeks back that the slow train has power and wi-fi I was converted. But, there was a problem. My innate inability to leave meant it so wasn't going to happen. Especially as I was going to have to get a ticket with a strange form of payment known as cash. Don't ask.

So I knew it would be impossible and, equally, that I would be skipping in to Kings Cross and catching the Cambridge Cruiser with a... Well not a song in my heart. It was hard, really, really tough, but I left and, astonishingly, caught the mythical 323 to Mile End.

Now, the thing with this bus is we know it exists, and we've seen tribes of the faithful congregating around the places of worship (aka bus stops) waiting for the second coming (that day). But, actually, other than on one miraculous evening a week or two back, neither of us have seen this miracle of modern science. But my magic gizmo reckoned one was due. Oh. It was, after all, a bank holiday, maybe the TFL thingie would actually work!

And lo... The 323 hove in to sight. Astonishing. With trepidation I sat, my hands shaking as I sent the magical words to my flatmate... *323 face*. I had achieved the impossible, I was riding in the mythical bus. This had to be a good sign. Right?

Was that the sound of my clutching at straws?

It must be said. It wasn't quite as exciting as I imagined. No playing of harps, or angels on clouds. A bit like, well, every other bus. Like the 209 even, but with a different number. And route. And passenger mix for that matter. Definitely no harps though.

It did mean I was at Mile End quicker than a very quick thing and it was looking good for Liverpool Street...

Well, it would have done. If it hadn't been for ye olde waiting for a red light. *Sighs*. As I rolled in to Liverpool Street I reckoned I had 6 minutes to get to the ticket machine, purchase and find a train. So not going to happen. Kings Cross then. Via, err, Bank. I was feeling brave.

Now this meant I had 25 minutes to reach platform 9. And get a ticket. How hard could it be? Oh...

The thing is, since I was last in Kings Cross, an eternity ago it transpires, they'd opened the new bit. And moved the ticket machines. Which I went straight to. Gnnnnnnnn. I'm bloody hormonal, stop moving things around! I could handle this. I found the new ticket office, I found a machine that took cash. I waited I pressed the screen, I went to feed said cash and...


Eh? Tried again. Nothing. Oh. The clock is ticking like mad now. I ran to the next cash/card machine, huzzah... Oh. A sticker, cards only. WTAF?! Next section. Same thing. Gahhhhhhhhhh. This meant the queue, the really long one, full of tourists and the unsure. This. Could. Only. End. Badly.

I mean seriously. It was never going to be a good weekend visiting the nearly-ex. But I had kind of hoped with not annoying in advance by rolling in mid-afternoon. Fortunately. With 5 minutes to spare, I reached window 6, asked politely for a ticket, gave the three letter code for the destination to save time and was told, by the really lovely man that I could just about make it.

I actually ran.

Well, sort of. More of a faster than normal walk, dodging in and out of the unsure and indeterminate. By a miracle I had actually made the 11:15 out of Dodge. Quite astonishing.  I mean seriously astonishing.

As I sat, as close to the front of the train as I could, I reflected on a thought that struck me. I'd missed the chance to admire the new station. I'd seen hints of it, in fact the change in the station over the last couple of years was hand-in-hand with the changes going on in my life. But in my first visit since the grand unveiling, I'd seen nothing.

Something else struck me.

I was the same. Same me, same irrational fears. Same worries. Same concerns. But the station represented the world around me. It was also fundamentally the same, but it had changed. The layout felt wrong, the tickets wrong, the old building work awkwardness was gone, but with it a new feeling of disconnect between me and a place I thought I knew.

Kings Cross had become a metaphor for my life changes.

As I unveil myself, slowly, surely, to those around me, I find they change. I know it's inevitable and I realise that it's happened to every other person in my position. But oh goodness how it frightens me. As ever I find myself in the position of saying nothing, continuing the deception and maintaining the status quo. Or being honest. And risking isolation.

Because I have not changed. I'm the same person. But other's perception of me changes. Whether imperceptibly or dramatically matters not. The reality is that the truth is actually pretty uncomfortable.

And this leaves me with the inevitable problem. Do I keep moving forward, losing contact with those I care about as they perceptibly move away, or do I stop. I know I can never close my personal Pandora's box now it's open. But oh goodness the temptation is immense. I became quite good at playing a role, I've been doing it long enough. The problem is, as with an actor in a soap opera, I've become type cast.

And the type is just not me.

Now, none of this is new to me. I've been here before. My life is littered with memories of people I was close to, right up the point of when I actually confided in them and said “okay, this is me”. And then, it all changed. Usually for the worse.

I pondered this over night. And was coming to think that maybe I needed to crawl back under my rock and, well, return to the status quo. It was easier then. I hated it. I was eternally unhappy. But it would mean I would be able to pick up where I left off. Well, once my best friend had stopped being disappointed in my cowardice.

And then, this morning, I read an article in the Grauniad that struck more than just a chord. It was about the top five regrets of the dying, each of which seemed relevant. But it was the first that made me burst in to tears and know that I was being foolish.

“I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expect of me”

Yes. That about sums it up.

So here I am, scared and alone. Fearful. Frightened. Fraught. I know that as I become more open I will lose friends, maybe not completely, but the closeness will disappear as the morning mist in the glare of the sun.

And I know it will hurt.

Whilst I know, understand even, the situation, if you listen closely you will hear me screaming “but I've not changed”. That's the trouble with honesty. The truth often hurts. In this case the person giving. In this case...


1 comment:

  1. Firstly, can I say how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. It is one of the very few where I have read every entry. This one, however, contains a sentence that struck home hard

    “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expect of me”

    I live several different lives, but the true "me" is the one I live clandestinely

    To my family - my wife, children and siblings - I am "Mr Dependable" - hard-working, solid, always there when needed. I rarely socialise because I work such long hours. I provide my family with a reasonably high standard of living in a nice house in the suburbs. I drink in moderation and enjoy nothing better than a night in front of the telly

    To my colleagues, I am the life and soul of the party at work functions and the comedian in work. I'm a charmer, a flirt, a lunchtime drinker. Confident to the point of arrogance in my abilities. Those few I socialise with outside of work know that I will always act differently when my wife is with me and always play along

    To my very few close friends, I am "Jack the Lad" - night clubber, party animal, a philanderer who is currently on his 4th affair in 18 years of marriage. They are extremely loyal to me (as I am to them) and, again, would never say / do anything to threaten my family life

    To my girlfriends (all of whom have themselves were / are married with children) I am (apparently) the bloke their husbands are not. I am the one that listens to them and lends a sympathetic ear, who makes them laugh when they are down, and who pampers them when we're together. I make no demands of them, but always try and make myself available when they want to see me.

    And me? I act a role for everyone (especially myself)... in reality, a man who is extremely insecure but who put's up a front of confidence ... actively bisexual since my early teens and, despite my "ladies man" persona, prefers (sexually) men to women. A man who is bored most of the time with both his family life and the life his colleagues / friends expect him to live. A man who yearns for intelligent companionship, to travel, and indulge his passion for culture and the arts.

    Apologies for using your blog as a confessional and I'm sure you now think I'm a total bastard. Perhaps I am, but it has come about by trying to be all things to all people instead of ever actually being true to myself