“FUCK YOU!”, said the normally quiet and reserved Diette to me this time last year on Thursday 14th February 2008 – Valentines day. My crime? To put out on my desk at work a bowl of Red & Pink ‘valentines coloured’ M&M’s and offer them up to people at they walked past …
I’m guessing that she may have been having relationship hassles herself that day – which I later found out to be true – and it was ok because a few days later when we made up, I even got her guilt-sympathy when I played my trump card by telling her that her day couldn’t have been any worse than mine – ‘coz that was the day that my wife decided to tell me that our marriage was officially kaput, defunct and spannered out. Happy Valentines to you too.
My morning had started in a rather more strange fashion. I’d laughed my pants off at DG’s annual link to the anti-valentines website, which made me laugh, but laugh in a certain way because it was tinged with the thought of “I find it funny, but it’s actually tragically true because I know that my life is about to collapse at any moment”.
I showed it to Leigh in an attempt to raise a smile, and unknown to me she then sent me – part joke/part serious – the one that that said “Valentine’s Day Sucks” and then tagged on her own message “But it doesn’t have to”. Because it did suck, and we both knew it.
And a point I remember in my mind is the fact I never got that ‘card’ from her that morning – well not until it was too late anyway.
So many people were hitting the website that day to serve up anti-valentines cards, that it took several HOURS for her request to be processed and drop into my inbox, whereas she may have (reasonably) gathered that I got it within moments of her sending it that morning.
So by the time I’d gone to work that day, got abused by Diette, and came home – I hadn’t checked my email and I hadn’t seen it.
Instead I walked into a conversation that had been coming – a four hour conversation with Leigh about how she was ending it, and how I – rather pathetically – begged and reasoned and argued for her not to. I didn’t find that card until later that night. And I just wonder if it might have sparked a different conversation if I’d got it that morning before I left for work.
But it’s ok … y’know? Because life is good. Life is very good. This isn’t a woe-is-me post. Nor is this a ‘fuck her!’ ramble; hell, she’s gonna be reading this! But I can’t pass up an anniversary of such stature without a little reminisce over the last 12 months of my life.
12 months … a whole year now since that all happened, and by god – what a year – and boy does it feel a whole bunch longer.
’cause i’ve been … what’s the word? Oh yeah … that’s right … busy.
Out of all the crap that came out of that week a year ago, it was – with a certain sense of irony – the same week that I finally got financially stable (which obviously helped me become more stable immensely) as that was when I finally got the money from selling my property back home – and, was also the week when I remember that for the first time here in Charleston I felt like I had finally – and properly – made some friends of my own volition, some beautiful people that I could call my own.
Up until that point, I had about five people in Charleston that I could call my friends. Dan, Janet, Michael, Melissa, J.J. – all lovely people. But once I started to make new friends, it was like a drug that I couldn’t control, and I just kept meeting new people.
Something to debate another time for the fun of it, is would my marriage of lasted had I gotten out of the house sooner, made all these friends and got my happy vibe back sooner that I did. Or maybe I should not wonder about that one at all.
So instead it’s roll-call time. Because I made a list this morning. And I like lists – a lot. And so I felt like I just needed to get this all down. Even if does look like a “Aren’t I great, I made all these friends” type of post. It’s not meant to be like that. It’s the fact that at the age of 35 years in my life, my tiny little mind was blown away but sheer mass of new, wonderful people that came into my life – and would have never of done so if I hadn’t of gambled on coming across the pond.
So this is just a nod, an acknowledgment, to people who (and I still can’t get over this) I simply didn’t know this time last year, and yet they are now all an integral part of my life to some extent – big or small – and they all played a part in shaping the last weird and wonderful twelve months of my humble existence here. Unforgettable.
It started with the theatre. With a life changing (and I’m not saying that lightly by any means at all) improv class. Where I was thrown into a strange place of not really knowing what they were doing, or who anyone was. Hello Betsy, hello Meaghan, and Anne. And Michael and Stephen and Kirk.
When I carried on past my intro class and into the next level where Tommy, Jordan, Derek, Sarah, Laurie, Kathleen, Frances, Dave, Tammy and Trey all showed up.
By simply having a place to hang out and a social little world, I slowly met everyone and befriended people that were there. Hello Greg, and Brandy and Timmy. And Larry, David, Jenny, Jennifer, and John. To my now good mate Andy with his mate Chet. And Sean and Andre and David and Shon.
To another English woman Louise. To all the other cool kids there – Dana, Brian, Anna, Tim, another David, Jason, Lee, Jason, Smiddy, Camille and Coleen. To Henry, Chris, Matt, Eleanor and Jessie. Sara, Amber and Nora.
Classes carried on, and I met Chad and Heather and Gray and the delightful Eve. Hello to Alix too. Other classes joined on board, and we became like on big happy family. Hello Magdalyne, Paul and Mark. To Dolly and Hannah as well.
The devil that is Facebook spawned people that wanted to be my friend even though I didn’t really know them – but I do now! Hello Stacey. Hello Helen, Nathan and Joel, Lauren. The social whirl that is Charleston in general gave me Chuck, Brian and Jared.
In the summer of 2008, I quit my job at this god awful place (but stayed in touch with Melissa, Katy and Brian) and moved on to join this wonderful bunch of people. Hello Ken, Loul, Stella, Austin, Charlotte, Amanda, Brian, Amber, Kevin and Chrys.
To Kathleen, the unforgettable Kathleen. Through who I also met Gretchen and George.
The fun that is Spoleto introduced me to Ashley. And from there Alice and Zach. Oh, and Caitlin. A special mention to Nick ‘The Brit’ Smith also.
Hello Nikki. Yes hello you. It will be impossible for me not to be your friend for the rest of my life. Fact. And to Tori and John, and Jen and Jillian who I met through her as well.
Sarah at the Theatre introduced me to Laurel, and Katie .. oh and Megan too.
I got to do a show on CofC Radio now. So that’s Nate, Geoff, Caroline and Katie right there. And tag on Taylor, Jason, Sylvie and Marion too. I almost forgot Bridget, Paige, Abi and Anne too.
I live of course with Beverly. So hello Eric thru her too. Oh and did I mention Molly ? There, I just did.
Charleston is a college town. And whilst I’m down with many of the kids ~chuckle~ the ones that spring to mind are Caitlin, Seaton, Dallas, Becca, and Charlotte who all deserve to be on this list.
That’s quite a bunch of people. There are probably some I’ve missed out that I will remember or get people saying “Hey, what about me?” and I’ll be terribly embarrassed, slide their name in, and subtly increment the total number up there in the title of this post – sorry if that’s you. But that was the bunch of names that spewed forth from the deep synapses of my brain and into my notebook as I drove back home from somewhere earlier this morning. And I’ve just come in and typed them all up.
I’ve just done the count. It’s 117 in total. That’s a lot to get my head round. One new name to learn every three days. New conversations, new experiences and new friends made in a very short period of time.
I wonder how many of these people I will still keep in touch with when I am back in England one day. I wonder who will be top of my list to visit when I am home (even though, I already damn well know, I still think about it), when I plan a visit back to Charleston from England in the future.
I wonder if what happened to me in the past will happen to me again – e.g. When I came to the USA from England, some people who I thought I would stay in touch with back home faded away and some I even fell out with. Others who were mere acquaintances before I left I somehow forged a stronger bond with, even if just over email or the odd telephone call. Will the reverse happen here? Are there people here that I think I will never lose touch with when I move away, that I will? Is there someone here now who I don’t think I’m that pally with, will suddenly become someone that I intensely stay in touch with when I move away? Head fuck time.
Because if I think about it too much, it really does hurt my head. So I try not to, and just revel in it instead. Yet if I think about all those lovely people in a positive manner it puts a smile on my face, a stride in my step, and adds pounds to my gut. And that’s brilliant.
But on the other hand? The downside … boy am I in trouble when it eventually becomes time to leave. I don’t want to think about how tough that is going to be.
“You’re, erm, enjoying life over there rather a lot at the moment, aren’t you?”, wrote my splendidly canny friend from back home – Simon – in an email to me last week.
Yes mate, I am. More than I think I’m ever going to be able to articulate to the extent that I want to. Imagining what you want to say to certain people in your head, and how the conversation will go, is completely different to how it comes out in real life. And even when I write it all out like this, one can’t but help wonder whether it sounds like complete trite or with sincere intent. But I’m damn well having a go, which is a start.
So it made me think. Love your friends people, and be grateful that they came into your life. And why not do something randomly nice for one of them one day this week, and tell them that you love them too.
‘coz valentines doesn’t always have to suck.