Goodbye 2016, or ‘what I’ll do differently in 2017’.

People keep saying that 2016 has been a really shitty year. Mainly as a result of the celebrity deaths we have experienced in the last 365 days. It’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon on death and disaster. The rise of Donald Trump The Anti-Christ, for example, and #BREXIT as a decision made by 50% of the UK population to be isolationist, backwards and to undo decades of progress. It’s very easy to look back at 2016 and think just how terribly awful it has been. And I very nearly got sucked into that pit of despair.

But then I stopped. I thunked for a bit. And remembered. You know what? My bad years have passed. 2014 was brutal. I lost Clare in the most wicked, cruel and evil way. Taken by cancer before turning 40. My world collapsed and I didn’t know how I would get through each day. 2015 wasn’t much better. I fell out with my brother which ultimately lead to our family being splintered and me not being invited to his wedding. Those wounds have yet to heal.

2016 hasn’t been bad to me. I have had my fair share of crazy experiences and dangerous liaisons, I’ve had stresses, I’ve tolerated fools. I’ve fending off stalkers and compulsive liars. I’ve been mis-sold on an idea which didn’t manifest in reality. I’ve been gullible, deceived, shallow and vain. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in my personal life.

Professionally it’s nothing but positives. There are no complaints.
I’ve maintained friendships with those I’m interested in and cast aside those who bring me down.
I’m closer to my parents despite being estranged from my brother. They see my side of things. We’re allies.
I’ve been to Portugal, I’ve been to Lanzarote. I’ve bought a car. I’ve made improvements to my home. I have more money than I have ever had. I’m far from ‘rich beyond my wildest dreams’ but my bills are paid, there’s money in the bank, and there’s wine in the fridge.
My relationship with the boy’s mum goes from strength to strength. My relationship with the boy evolves as expected with a nine-going-on-nineteen-year-old. He’s stubborn and headstrong. He is his father’s son.

As the clock ticks over to midnight it’s time to consider what I’ll do differently in 2017. One criticism I’ll level at myself from the past year is my tendency to rush in. I’ve been so keen to capture that which I lost before that I have thrown caution to the wind and involved myself in situations too early and too soon. Too deeply. Too personally. I’ve opened myself up to people and given myself to them before I first weighed up their worth. I’ve invested time and emotion in people who did not deserve my time or my emotion. I’ve been stupid. I’ve been kind. I’ve been cruel.

2017 is to be a year of standing still and taking stock – I’ve said that before. I have plans to do interesting things and read a lot of books. I might even move house, but if I don’t or if I can’t I’ll make my current house more of a home. I’m going to go on holiday; maybe twice(!) (maybe thrice!!). I’m going to enjoy life and living it.

But there’s going to be No More Mister Nice Al. It’s time for me to be careful, calculated, cautious. Rather than taking people at face value I need to wait until the big reveal. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It’s time, 2017 is going to be the time, for Al to no longer be foolish.

I’ll see y’all on the other side of the bells.

That was my pang… It was my pride

Relationships are very interesting aren’t they? No matter to what level they develop, that you choose to be intimate – to whatever level – with someone, is disarming. It makes you vulnerable to allow someone access to the inner-sanctum of your needs/wants/desires. You may give someone the ability to hurt you. You supply them with ammunition which can lay you low. And you trust them, at least to some extent, not to use what you give them against you.

On Saturday I was at work and I saw an ex. I’m going to call her Sarah because her name is Sarah. It makes more sense that way. Sarah came into my life at a time when I needed someone or something to occupy me. She was exactly what I needed; just what the doctor ordered. I saw her on Saturday night. She saw me. We didn’t speak. She was out with friends, drunk. I was at work, sober. Also, I really don’t know what I would have to say to her given the opportunity.

Sarah chased me for a period of time and I eventually acquiesced and we went out. She massaged my ego massively. She was an attractive girl thirteen years my junior. She was interested in this old fart. Difficult to say no, no?

We went out a few times and it didn’t take long for me to realise that the age gap was more a chasm. A yawning, gaping, all-consuming, unassailable chasm. A void of difference between us. In the end we went our separate ways. She said she wanted to be ‘just friends’ when I raised the issue of us not actually bothering to see much of each other. I consider myself to be a friendly person. I’m kind, generous, engaging, but there was nothing about her which made me want to keep in touch. That difference in age and experience and life was just too much for me to see her as anything other that someone to sleep with. I certainly couldn’t consider myself to be friends with her. No way.

So then when I saw her on Saturday night and when I glimpsed her kissing some random younger guy outside a pub – classy all the way – why did I feel a pang? Actually what did I feel a pang of? Jealousy? Yearning? Regret?

I’m not certain.

The facts are as follows.

I have – with one noticeable exception – always been in control of the beginning, middle, and end of my relationships. And with Sarah she played a part in the decision to call things off. We went our separate ways and she was as happy as I was to do so. I guess I’m used to a certain degree of resistance at the conclusion of my relationships. That never happened. Perhaps the pang was this: I realised this girl walked away from me as easily as I walked away from her. And, in the silliest and most irrelevant way. In the most trivial and redundant fashion, that hurt.

That was my pang… It was my pride.

Walk the other way

I saw this image posted on Twitter and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poster:

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“If I could go back to the day we met, I’m sorry but I’d turn around and walk the other way.”

Let’s just consider that for moment. How bad must things be that you wish someone could be cut out of your life entirely? That all the shared memories and experiences were erased? I have never regretted a single one of my relationships. Not a single one. I have regretted my conduct on occasion but each person who has given me the gift of their intimacy has brought something to my life and made it richer. I cannot imagine ever feeling such pain and/or hostility that I’d wish we had never met.

Wobble

Sometimes I have a little wobble. Today was one of those days. She crept up on my notice via a mutual friend and suddenly filled my thoughts. I caught my breath and felt that familiar tormented yearning for her touch. It hits me hard sometimes and it takes me a moment or so to recover. But recover I always do, and just like the smoker who passes on cigarettes, it gets easier each time – but, and I know this from experience, that yearning never goes away entirely.

I think now that I am no longer in love with her, I am in love with the idea of loving her. It’s a sweet, sweet pain to feel.

I know that she will always have a small piece of my heart. I know that I will always think of her. I know that when I close my eyes she will not be far from sight. I know that I will miss her, always.

I know that I also have to forge ahead with my life and my future. I cannot wallow in the past or lament mistakes made or poor choices chosen. That way madness lies. Life is something which happens whether you like it or not. It’s a messy, brutal affair. No-one gets out alive. All you can do is smile at the memories. Remember the good times. Learn from what went before. And make a promise to yourself that you’ll always be true and always try to do the right thing.

Even if that thing, that right thing, is the one thing which hurts you most of all.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

Despite 36 years on the planet and a string of relationships & liaisons, I’m still no closer to understanding what it is that women want. I recently met someone who has grown to be very special to me. We’ve recently had to weather an ex-induced troublesome scenario and the fallout from this is monies owed. We were supposed to be going away this weekend but we’ve had to cancel for reasons I’m not prepared to go into right now.

She paid, and I owe her. I asked how much and she dithered and said something about being “out. of. comfort zone.” so I did what all most blokes would do and I applied logic.

Apparently that was wrong.

What I was supposed to do was second-guess what she was thinking and do that instead.

Women of the world take note: If you want us men-folk to do something in a certain way or act in a certain way, please tell us exactly how you want us to do it. Failure to do so will result in disappointment.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate”