About a week after I met Ed, my grandma took me on a trip to England and Wales. We arrived at Heathrow on a Tuesday, took the airport bus into town and checked in at the B&B near some university dorms, then spent a few days seeing some of the sights.
There was a tiny park near our B&B that the students used for tennis and sunbathing. Introverted and awkward at initiating small talk, I somehow managed to approach a group of four and start chatting with them. Maybe I picked this particular bunch because they were smoking a joint at the time, or perhaps the joint came later and was a happy coincidence. Either way, I had drugs on the brain and I had decided that I wanted to try to get my hands on some ecstasy (no, not that kind, the other kind), and I hoped someone here might be able to help me out. That was Saturday.
On Monday, we started our tour of Wales, and stopped for the night in Wrexham. I struck out on my own for a little walk in the early evening because I was fidgety and looking for a little adventure, possibly because I’d spent the better part of the day on a coach with a bunch of retirees. I shunned the quaint, quiet churchyards and headed for signs of life and traffic. And there was traffic. Foreign as the place was to me, somehow it still struck me that there was an awful lot of traffic for such a small place, and it seemed that most of these people were cruising rather than driving to a specific destination. In the process, I met a bloke who asked me if I was “courting”. I denied it, because I believed it to be the correct answer, or at least it was the correct answer for me to give him. In my notes from the trip, I recorded that I had gotten some kind of pleasant male attention in Wrexham (and this encounter wasn’t it), but alas, I have no memory of it. (Maybe some guys looked at me while they drove past, who knows.)
Thursday evening was Cardiff. I found a club and went in, but it was very dead until the pubs let out some time later, so I ended up sat at the bar, drinking strong cider (they didn’t have sweet) and chatting for a good while with a bloke who turned out to be a co-owner, and was about 14 years my senior, with an ex and an 8-year-old child. He taught me the word “squiffy”, which I remember because that’s more or less the state I was in at that point in the evening: slightly buzzed and happy. When I finally dragged myself away, I intended to walk back (it was maybe two blocks away) but he offered me a ride and I accepted. I had a vague feeling that wasn’t a great idea; was I being fretful or was I getting a message from my gut? But he drove me straight back, no funny business. He did give me a goodbye kiss, which, in retrospect, was almost certainly the reason for the ride in the first place. (I imagine he was thinking I was more or less jail-bait.) By the time I finally returned to the room that I shared with my grandma, it was late and dark; she had turned out the light and gone to bed but hadn’t fallen asleep yet (probably kept awake with worry). And I was somewhat drunk. Smooth.
We returned to London on Saturday, and back to the same neighborhood. It was probably that day or the next when I ran into Kent, one of the lads I had met at the little park. Kent was medium height, slim, with shaggy blond hair and a pleasantly laid back demeanor. We started hanging out.
My grandma was a little put out with this arrangement, probably because I was spending time with him instead of her and she was a little anxious that I was out in London on my own. But Kent was sweet (even my grandma thought so) and showed me some parts of London that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, such as Primrose Hill near the London Zoo.
My grandma and I had another jaunt, this time to the Midlands for a few days. I didn’t manage to meet anyone on this side trip, probably because we were hanging around with her equally elderly friends in a little village. After that, it was back to London one last time.
Late May, afternoon light. His dorm room, in a characterless block almost across the street from my hotel. Summery heat, bright sunshine. Sitting on his bed in a state of undress, and him down to his boxers. “You wanna?” he asks, refreshingly directly. “Not really,” I cheerfully reply.
And then there was that time in London when, late one night, I very quietly masturbated while my grandma was in the other twin bed, just on the other side of the night stand. Um, yeah.
In my sparse notes, I managed to record a little non-trip related angst. Four months after Bad Boy and I had broken up, I was still entertaining the idea that we’d be getting back together even though I had realized by this point that I felt like shit when I was with him. Drummer had given me some earplugs and I’d used them on a particularly noisy flight. I mused about Ed but had already cooled towards him, though things would warm again later, at least a little.