Thursday, 13 August 2009

Love thy neigbour..

‘Where have all the good men gone?’ is a question I have asked so many times before. Perhaps it’s time to rephrase that question to something along the lines of; ‘Why do I seem to repel all the good men?’

To paint a clearer picture; A few months ago I moved in to my best friends’ apartment after he immigrated to Berlin to be with his loved one. I love my new home and I thoroughly enjoy my new flatmate. I’ve also been familiar with the two neighbours in the building for some time but it wasn’t until after I’d moved in that one of them started this slightly inappropriate but ever so exciting flirting game. It all began after we’d been burgled one day and I got my neighbours number from my friend to call and inform him of the unfortunate incident. Luckily his flat was the only one that escaped the ordeal but nonetheless he was very concerned about what’s happened. That evening when he came back from work we both stood in the doorways of our flats, which are facing each other in a very narrow hallway, and we talked for some time all the while this chemistry was building up between us. At first I couldn’t believe this was happening. As a major ‘Friends’ fan , ever since Monica and Chandler got it on in season 5, its been somewhat of a secret fantasy of mine to have a fling with a neighbour. Suddenly it seemed my fantasy was becoming reality..

What followed were countless text messages, a few phone calls and a couple of impromptu visits to each others flats. The first one was an invite to join me for a pint of shandy on a warm Tuesday evening. It was nice and chummy but with an electric undertone. All this time I kept thinking to myself; ‘Is this really happening or is it all just in my head?’ And if it was for real was I prepared for the consequences? What if things didn’t work out? I couldn’t help but wonder. Plus my best friends words kept ringing in my ears; ‘You don’t s*it on your own doorstep! Remember that!’

Looking back it was a warning I should have taken seriously at the time but a few days and many texts later I got an invite to watch a lazy Sunday evening movie at my friendly neighbours. I was excited. To me, a tell tale sign that I really like someone is when I get butterflies in my stomach. And on this particular evening there was an entire swarm of them. I was actually nervous.Showered and dressed I knocked on his door and he greeted me with a hug that lasted a little bit longer that it should. It became very clear that we were both on the same page here altho neither of us wanted to rush anything. Drinking a few beers, we were comfortable on his sofa watching ‘Milk’, a movie I’d been meaning to see but without anyone to see it with. It was a perfect ‘first date’ type of movie and as it went on I noticed my neighbours arm getting closer and closer to mine. I could feel the warmth of his arm against mine and suddenly there was a reaction.. Ehm..

The movie finished and I made my excuses. It was getting late and we both had an early start the next day. For a moment I’d forgotten where I was and suddenly the realisation of crossing the hall to get to mine became apparent. This will make the goodbye a bit awkward, I though. Once again we stood in the doorway and just before saying goodbye he opened his arms to embrace me, again lingering a bit longer but this time placing a gentle kiss on my neck as he pulled away.I could feel my face getting red so I said ‘Goodnight’ and closed my door. My heart pounding so loudly in my chest I could have sworn he heard it through my door.

After that day our texts became more obvious. We liked each other and we were both looking forward to the next meeting. He had a very busy schedule with work and wasn’t sure when he’d be free but each day he found time to send a few flirty texts.
We finally agreed on a Saturday the following week. The anticipation was immense and I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. We’d agreed to spend the day in the sun, weather providing. It didn’t look too bright seeing as the whole week had washed away in torrential rain and I was slightly anxious we’d have to stay indoors all day, not that I would have minded much but thought it’d be easier being out and about. Kind of takes the pressure off the whole thing. Saturday finally arrived and the two month long courting game culminated in a day to remember.

I woke up with a slight hangover from the night before and noticed the sun shining outside. Miraculously I instantly felt much better and the butterflies started fluttering inside my belly as I was looking forward to my date. He called and we arranged to meet at his. We then drove up to Hampstead Heath in his brand new BMW listening to Black Eyed Peas latest album.
‘I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night..’ blaring through the speakers as we kept glancing at each other in the mirror and smiling. During conversation every now and again he’d tap my knee with his hand then nervously retracted it. I thought it was sweet. Made me feel at ease about the whole thing and I’d respond with a big grin.

After we arrived in Hampstead we went to M&S to get some pick nick food and then continued through the park to find a perfect spot. We settled down on a slanting hill, secluded from other people and unpacked our lunch. We talked about everything. He told me he’d been single for a long time and finally felt ready to settle down. He told me about his work and how time consuming it all was and how he’d welcomed our little break to clear his head off of things. I told him about my new job and how I came to be in London in the first place. He confessed that in the past he’d had commitment issues and that he’d deliberately look for flaws in people in order not to have to see them again, regardless how ‘right’ they were. He then said he’d gotten over that now. Pointing out that my love for junk food would have been enough to send him running in the other direction, health freak as he is. We were getting to know each other and it felt nice. The sun was shining, soothing beach house was playing from my iPod and suddenly he leaned in and kissed me. Everything around us seemed to stop. I closed my eyes and kissed him back..

‘Wow’ I thought to myself. I normally judge a guy by the way he kisses and if it doesn’t feel right from the start then that is enough reason for me not to continue. But this.. This felt so right. We looked at each other and we giggled. He laid down and put his head on my chest and told me he’d thought of this moment for months and never expected it to feel this good. I agreed but told him I was a bit scared and apprehensive about the fact we practically lived together and how it would defuse the whole dating process. He assured me everything would be fine. After all we’re both grown ups and there was no reason to make things awkward. That calmed me down a bit and I felt a lot more comfortable with what was happening.

A few hours later we went for a drink at The Freemasons Arms and sat in their garden. We opened up to each other and he told me about his insecurities. I told him about my deprived childhood and at one point stopped myself, wondering if I’d said too much. He put his hand on my thigh and pulled me in to his embrace reassuring me that it was ok. He said he wasn’t ready for the date to end and asked if I wanted to go for dinner with him. The butterflies in my stomach started running havoc. I couldn’t believe just how well things were going.

He drove us back home and we went back into our flats to freshen up and met an hour later downstairs. A little more nervous this time I kept thinking to myself; ‘Do not screw this up!’We walked down to Clapham and he asked me if I’d ever been to the Metro Garden . I told him I hadn’t and he smiled, saying he was taking me out for dinner to celebrate my first week at my new job. We got in and he seemed to know the owner; a feisty lady with a wicked sense of humour. She told us that our table will be ready in a moment and brought us two beers. The restaurant was lovely and incredibly romantic. Tables for two everywhere, candles and fairy lights lighting up the garden with canopies and plants making me forget we were in London. It was perfect.

The date couldn’t have been better. It was a warm summer night, good food, a nice bottle of wine and not to mention the great company. He kept grabbing my hand under the table and we kept gazing into each others eyes. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was for real. I hadn’t been on a date like this for a really long time and last time I did I ended up in a relationship with the guy.

Neither of us wanted the date to end so we went for a martini at The Rapscallion. We agreed to meet in the week and catch a movie before embarking on the short walk home. We both knew it was going to be awkward once we came to our house but neither said anything. Finally we were home. He asked me if I wanted to come in for a bit. My mind kept telling me I shouldn’t. ‘Just kiss him and say good night. Make him wait. Make him want it more’ I kept hearing inside my head. But I wanted to spend the night with him so badly. I wanted to fall asleep in his arms. But most of all I wanted to wake up with him next to me..

The following morning I sensed that something had changed. I wasn’t quite sure what it was and I couldn’t put my finger on it. He seemed preoccupied but still attentive. I told him I should go home and he said he had some work to sort out and was meeting friends for lunch later. I got dressed and walked across the hall. So much for a walk of shame..

Inside I was happy. I couldn’t wait for our next date but the little voice inside my head kept saying; ‘Take it easy now. Don’t push things and just go with the flow.’A part of me was waiting for a text, just to say hello if nothing else. But none came.Coming back from the shop that evening I saw his car was outside and the lights were on in his apartment but he hadn’t called or texted. I left it that day but with a growing concern that things had suddenly changed. The following day I asked when he’s free to catch that movie and the reply came that he was swamped with work all week and didn’t quite know when he’d be free next.

Hmmm.. It doesn’t get any clearer than that, does it!?

I sat down feeling deflated and confused. What went wrong? Did I say something I shouldn’t? Did his old habit of finding flaws in people suddenly re appear? What flaws did he find in me? I couldn’t stop mauling over these questions in my mind but none of the answers made any sense to me. Not after a date like the one we had.. I felt hurt. He didn’t even give me chance. Not even half a chance.. If I was good enough yesterday then what's wrong with me today?

What is he so afraid of? What went so horribly wrong?

So I am rephrasing that age old question Bonnie Tyler asked back in the day ‘Where have all the good men gone?’ to ‘Am I repelling all the good men?’

I am usually a very good judge of character. I’ve had a lot of practice, but I never saw this coming. I can’t believe that I bought into all that and let myself get swept away in all the mush.

I feel silly for having had such great expectations. I let my fantasy run away with my emotions and built up this fairy tale romance in my head and then the bubble burst.

Now every time I get home from work and see his car parked outside and the light in his apartment I can’t help but think about what might have been. The constant reminder of a fling gone sour over reasons completely unknown to me.. I just wish he’d been man enough to tell me to my face and be completely honest with me, just like he was during our first date. Maybe then I’d know for next time what to avoid or how not to act.

Someone once said; ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ and as much as I’d like to agree and comply with that statement I think I’ve learned from my mistakes..

I’ve certainly learned never to sh*t on my own doorstep again! Its the hardest kind of mess to clean up!