An advert for Bournemouth

I was in Bournemouth yesterday. It’s a place where we went when we were first dating. I remember pretty vividly (we would have only been a few months in) he knelt down to tie his shoelaces and made a joke that he wasn’t proposing to me. Then, I probably would have followed him to the moon if he’d asked, so it was a little bit of a stab, but it didn’t matter. We went to the oceanarium and saw otters, which is probably the best part of that memory. We played mini golf and I let him win because he complained that he was doing so poorly.

We were in Bournemouth on his 24th birthday. We walked up and down a pier and he talked about how it wasn’t his best birthday ever. We went to a music shop and I offered to buy him a piece of new equipment. He couldn’t choose anything, but we left the shop hand in hand and felt like we had a pleasant enough day.

We were in Bournemouth for his 26th birthday this year. We ate lunch in a restaurant which overlooked the sea. He didn’t enjoy his food much, but had a couple of pieces of my fish and chips. We went to the amusement arcade, and I wonder if I’ll ever go to an amusement arcade without thinking of him.

In writing all of this down, it sounds like I don’t have particularly fond memories of him and Bournemouth, but I do. It feels like he’s all over that place.

I’ve been several other times. Once for a particularly boring hen do, once for an afternoon tea with two friends. Yesterday I was there for a comedy show. I like the aviary that’s in the public gardens. I like the seafront. I like the cat cafe in Bournemouth, and its policy of hiring staff from diverse backgrounds.

But I was still thinking of him a lot. Which is shit, because I’m so much less sad about him, to the point where the sadness feels unfamiliar and intrusive, rather than my default.

I’m supposed to be seeing him in two days (not in Bournemouth). We had a short text conversation about an hour ago and arranged a time to meet up. I’m wondering just now, however, what I want to get out of seeing him.

On the one hand, he’s probably the only person in the world who would understand why I feel sad. He has all of those memories too, and probably has even more that I can’t think of. He’s recently been to Amsterdam, so it would be pretty cool to hear about his trip there. I could tell him about this comedy gig I saw, and about how much my mother’s been irritating me.

But then there’s the question of what I get out of this. Why do I need to see him and have these conversations, when really all I’ll feel is a sense of missing him and a big question mark over why we needed to break up.

I could ask him some things about the break up, some of the things he said. Would that give me closure? I could ask him if he ever wanted to move in with me and build a life, but I think I probably know the answer to that one.

So now, at almost midnight on a night before a 13-hour shift, I feel like I want to enter into a goodbye text conversation.

I want to tell him that I loved him, and that I’ll always be fond of him. I would tell him that I genuinely hope he has success in his music and his career. I would tell him that despite how petty I sometimes feel, I want him to meet a person who completed him in a way I never could.

And then I would want to tell him we shouldn’t meet up any more. It doesn’t give us anything, and they’re occasions that are platitudes as a shadow of when we would talk about the world.

But I can’t do that over text at midnight. So maybe I’ll have to tell him at lunch on Sunday.

Assigning meaning to things

When I was a child, a family member died. My grandfather had died when I was 5, but I think I was too young to take that in fully and appreciate the meaning.

When I was 8 or 9, my grandmother’s brother’s wife’s sister’s husband died. (The Scottish side of my family were all very close). He’d been ill for a while, not that I knew that at the time. My parents and I had visited their house several times, and I can still clearly remember the big picture window they had in their living room that looked over a beautiful part of the North of Scotland.

Because I was a little older, I understood the reality and finality of death a little bit better. Although my parents weren’t religious, I attended a school run by the Church of England which to this day still gives me a complicated relationship with God and religion.

Long story short, I used to pray to a string of dust that hung from the ceiling. It’s ridiculous to type that out, and I’m sure it’s a ridiculous thing to read.

I was scared to go to sleep. I’d have little panic attacks nightly about death. When the lights turned off, the glow of the streetlights outside would catch this string of dust. The string used to move, and as I was a child, I couldn’t conceive of why it would move if God wasn’t the one moving it.

So I’d pray to the string as a conduit for God. I’d ask Him to look after my grandmother’s brother’s wife’s sister’s husband. And, later, when my grandmother’s brother’s wife’s sister, and my grandmother’s brother died, I’d pray that He’d make sure they were happy too.

I’m quite firmly agnostic now, as much as anyone can be ‘firmly’ agnostic. I look back on the string of dust and wonder why I ever cared so much or ascribed so much meaning to it.

I don’t mean to trivialise these thoughts on death and religion, but thinking on this made me think about how I assign a lot of meaning to small actions of others. Even more so within the context of the breakup.

It’s been seven weeks now. We saw each other two weeks ago and I read into every action of his. That means he’s sad about the breakup, this means he misses me. Maybe he said it like that because he knows that will make me miss him more. Maybe he still loves me.

I’m starting to accept the finality. A few people at work asked about whether he and I would get back together. That knowledge and belief from an external person gave me some feeling that it could happen, but I’m starting to see the reality that it probably won’t.

Am I sad? I’m still trying to navigate this. The freedom and the opportunity are still tickling at me.

The relationship by the numbers

We’d been together for five years and three months.

He is (was) my first boyfriend, which I know is strange when you’re 21 – to not have had a boyfriend before. Or a shag. Or a kiss. So yes, he was my first everything. I suppose he always will be my first everything, although that’s a weird and hard thing to think.

We were together for five years and three months. We met online, we have four dates. We kissed in front of a hen party, and I remember having to go to the loo and tell myself that it was okay to have my first ever kiss in front of seven drunk women. We kissed and we stayed in that pub for an hour and then I went home (alone) and we saw each other twelve hours later.

So fast forward five years. And holy shit, FIVE YEARS is such a long amount of time. In that time, I’ve started to advance in my career. I’ve passed my driving test. I’ve bought a house. I’ve adopted my two beautiful fur babies. I’ve done those things off my own back, and largely alone – but more on that later.

I come from a friend group of very settled down twenty-somethings. Everyone has been with their partners for several years since they met either at college or uni. Some are married or engaged. Some are happy, some aren’t. And when you’re also somewhere within that demographic, that’s a smugly wonderful place to be. When you’re not, that’s a shittily sad place to be.

So, to the dumping itself. Four months ago we had an argument in a public place and he decided he saw me differently. Three months ago, we had a blissful holiday to celebrate our five years together. Two weeks ago, we had an argument that changed everything. One week ago, we had a discussion and agreed to try again. Today he dumped me.

I’m not a particularly emotional person. I feel quite numb sometimes, and I only tend to cry in confrontational situations, or at films. This was neither of those, and holy fuck did I cry. I cried so much, and it was like the depth of that sadness just kept going. And like I couldn’t allow myself to breathe, because whenever I did the sobbing would start again.

It’s painful to cry, both physically and emotionally. I don’t know how to handle the lack of control I had, and the lack of ability to move from my position on the floor while he moved a picture of us away from my eye line.

It was a picture from a distractingly happy time.

He was kind. He hugged me, and kissed my forehead. Once of his own volition, and once because I leaned up to his lips, because that’s what I would always do when he was leaving. Normally when he would leave a restaurant table to go to the loo, this time because he was leaving my house for potentially the last time.

We don’t live together, and we never have. Is that a blessing? Is that a sign that maybe we weren’t a real couple within the framework our friends provide, because we haven’t taken so many of the steps they have?

I asked him to leave his keys. As he attempted to remove the two keys from his key chain, it became too unbearable. That finality, that gesture that he would no longer be able to independently access my home which is filled with little pieces of him and our relationship.

He left.

I texted seven friends. I waited seven minutes and called my mother who came within two hours.

But he’d still left.

I intend to write this blog daily. I want to chart what I do from here, and how I feel and what my next steps are. I want a record of who I am day to day, and where I am. I want to look back at this one day, either when I’ve found my someone perfect, or when I’m next dumped, and know that I could and did succeed.

Well fuck, now I just need to do that.