Dear Crush 2.0
I have spent the last four months living and breathing you. You have been the inspiration for songs, and blog posts and endless tweets ... and even though you pretended not to know you were my muse, I'm sure you did. I didn't realise how used to having you in my heart every day I had got, until it ended so recently and so suddenly.
I guess I should've known really shouldn't I? That as soon as I got comfortable with how we were, and the way we seemed to be moving - and even wrote a post about it - then things would change. That is how life goes for me. You'd think after 40 years I'd come to expect it, but I really didn't see it coming, not like this.
You turned up at my 40th birthday party in the foulest mood I've seen you in, and did little to hide it. You even sodded off for a couple of hours to go and get yourself something to eat elsewhere. You came across like the stereotypical prima donna musician. You were rude to my friends and family, you were offhand with your own friends and I genuinely wish you'd just said to me:
"Look ATOmum, I've got some stuff going on, really not in the mood for this, I'm going to go and I'll come back at the end for the amp and the mic, have a lovely time".
But you didn't. And so the friends and family that I had sung your praises to, who met you for the first time that night were left with the impression that at 40 years old I still didn't know the difference between a good man and an arsehole.
You hung around like a miserable git, didn't even want to give me a lift home even though there was no other way of getting me there, and then you sat there in my living room still miserable and offhand with me, and only slightly less so with our friends who'd come back to. At the time I was just about too drunk to notice or care, but looking back now, it kills me. I enjoyed my party despite you, but still, if there's an opposite of the cherry on a cake then you were it.
It hasn't really hit me until today though. I fell over and spent last Monday in A & E with what turned out to be only a sprained ankle, but I was on crutches for a couple of days, and could only drive for the first time yesterday. That meant that last week was just a logistical nightmare of getting me and the kids lifts to school, pre-school, work etc. ... and I was exhausted.
Looking back on last week, I didn't see or hear from you much less - we chatted on FB on Monday and Tuesday briefly, but it wasn't the same as it usually is. I was just another open mic player to you, I could feel it. You turned up at my door on Wednesday morning, unannounced, with the work you'd done on the tracks I gave you. But I had to go an hour later for a work lunch so whatever time you had planned to spend with me it was cut short. And when I played back the tracks later, you really hadn't done that much work on them... in retrospect, it was the non-relationship equivalent of giving me my CDs back.
Then I saw you on Thursday at the Open Mic, and we barely spoke.. the usual jovial hellos and goodbyes, but none of those outside conversations, those shared looks when you knew exactly what I was thinking without me having to say it.
And she was there, your Ex. And for once she wasn't claiming you with every word she spoke, or making an effort to tell me something about me that was similar to her... in fact she could barely look at me. She was relaxed apart from that though, you might almost say smug. I guess she didn't need to claim you anymore, maybe you were hers and she had nothing to prove. And I couldn't stay til the end like I always do, because I had to get a lift back. So we didn't get that time together we usually do, and so I couldn't ask you what had happened, even if I had wanted to know.
There were more brief FB chats and then I saw you last night, at the very last Sunday Open Mic. And it damn near killed me. She was there again, and I've never seen her at that place in all the months I've been going.
I did my usual hanging out outside to listen, and instead of coming to join me like you'd usually do, I saw you actively wait to go out to smoke until I wasn't there, or until there were other people too. There wasn't even any onstage banter between us as there always is.
In my mind, as I stood there at the door looking at the empty space next to me, I was thinking that just a fortnight before you had been in that space, laughing with me about how drunk you were going to be at my party, and checking you could stay at mine. We'd been enjoying each others company, listening, laughing, playing, sitting at the back singing along together. Last night you wouldn't have thought it was the same two human beings. I put your guitars away at the end like I always do... you didn't thank me, you didn't ask me to say goodnight to the sound recorder like you always do, you didn't even hug me goodbye... so different from last time, when you'd walked me to my car, hugged me and said 'lots of love'.
And I miss it, I miss that connection between us, the connection that started way back here... and grew and grew with every moment we spent together...
I remember when I came to see you play on the pier and you played that Prince cover that was the first song I'd ever tried to play in the first band I ever formed, and we sat on the sea wall sharing chips and realising our shared view of audiences and performing
I remember being the first person to buy your EP and you signing it and you saying how you wanted to know my feedback because I didn't know you so well so I would be a good person to hear from, and I remember being blown away by it and embarrassing myself by writing that on your wall and having to backtrack so I didn't look like a complete sycophant
I remember the endless Facebook banter on walls and then later the many shared nights of talking and joking and trading emoticons on FB chat until the wee small hours
I remember staying late at the Thursday Open Mics and sharing your food and gossipping and putting the world to rights, finding more and more shared views of the world
I remember you first opening up to me about how you were trying to figure out what to do about your work, and me saying it wasn't a FB chat conversation and why didn't you come over for a whiskey sometime.. and I remember being surprised when you jumped at the chance.
I remember being more surprised when you actually turned up.. even early enough to see the kids.. and even though the offer was only a drink and a chat, you turned up and you cooked an amazing meal and we chatted and drunk until the wee small hours again.. in real life, not just virtual this time
I remember sitting on my living room floor listening to your recordings of rain and hedgehogs and watching your joy in the perfection of the shape of a sound pattern.. and I remember falling in love with your inner geek right there and then
I remember you phoning me at midnight just three weeks ago after that gig where you barely spoke to me and saying 'Do you fancy a drink?' and five minutes later turning up on my doorstep
I remember you arriving ranting about your friends letting you down, and then eventually, calming down, relaxing, putting the worlds to rights with me, until we'd drunk so much that we ended up deciding to sleep in my bed together... the first night I spent lying in your arms... the first night I'd spent lying in anyone's arms for seven years
I remember telling you the next day that you had the best arms I'd ever seen, and you do
I remember you stroking my arm as I sat up that morning to go and deal with the kids, and I remember you stroking my hair as I came and lay back down next to you and you wrapped your arms around me again.
I remember watching you and DS2 in the greenhouse picking the last of the tomatoes, seeing you chat away to each other, desperately wanting to take a photo of this sweet connection you had, but holding back
I remember you sat at our table with me and the boys, eating tea, sharing a beer with me, planning your next visit the following night.
I remember another amazing meal cooked for me, and I remember you watching me eat and help myself to seconds. You were so proud that I loved your food, apologising if it was voyeuristic, 'but I get off on it,' you said.
I remember a lot of drinking again, and ranting about the things I was passionate about and you clinking your glass with mine and saying 'Good rant ATOmum' - and I remember how healing that was after DS1's dad who used to hate me being like that, to the point that I agreed to stop drinking at all.
I remember the next morning with the kids dropped at the childminders you telling me things that I know you haven't shared with others about family, relationships, spirituality.. and sharing similar things back because I felt safe to.
I remember coming back home from picking the kids up, to you saying 'I decided to cook for all of us'. And again, we sat the four of us, like some strange little family and I thought 'oh, so this is what it's like with two adults around'.
And I was sad when you didn't come back that Thursday like you'd said you would, but I knew there was a good reason, for once you'd been straight with me about it, and so it didn't stop our connection.
We were close. People who saw us together assumed we were together. You were open with me, you weren't evasive and so that's why I wrote that post. We were on a journey, we were travelling, who knew where, but we were definitely and indisputably going somewhere ...
And then you pulled the emergency break on that train and I was thrown from it... I couldn't hold on, I'm sorry.
So, this letter is just to say goodbye, for a while at least, Crush 2.0, because I can't be around you pretending that none of that happened, or watching you pretend that none of it happened.
I'm spreading my almost broken wings because I have to, before I can't fly at all. I'm off to try other Open Mics, because my music is all that keeps me from drowning right now. And I know those nights won't be as good as yours, and I know the friends I found through you won't be there, but I'll see them elsewhere and maybe there'll be some new friends.
Because I miss that connection between us. I miss it like breathing.
So being in a room with you without it... it's like someone drawing broken glass across my soul. And I can't do it until it doesn't feel like that anymore.
I love you, I miss you and I wish nothing but the best for you.