Another story, another Jonny (this time no h).
Aka: The Marine.
As the name may suggest, he was a Marine. For those of you who don’t know, they are the UK Royal Marine Commandos (the Navy’s soldiers) and renowned for being tough as shit. Apparently the training is the longest and most arduous programmes in the world. Say the word ‘Marine’ and eyebrows are raised in admiration and libidos go crazy.
I’d heard of Jonny through his best friend who I worked with (and had a slight fling with and had my heart a little bit broken by, but that’s another story) and was intrigued to meet him after all the stories I’d heard.
We were all on a night out with work. He’d tagged along to one of our Friday clubs and as soon as I saw him walk around the corner I thought “holy shit”. The man was hot as hell.
He was a bit of a cocky shit, confident to the point of slight arrogance, seemingly due to 7 years in the military being told he was the elite of the elite and better than anyone else. He hit on me that night, but at the time I was into his mate so he was just a bit of eye candy and nothing more.
He got in touch with me a few days later, and again a few weeks later, I guess the arrogance in him not giving up. I happened to be out one Saturday night with some friends and he invited himself to take me for a cocktail once I’d said goodbye to them. At this point I caved, his mate had started to see someone else and been a dick about it all so I figured it was a good a way as any to spend the rest of a Saturday night.
Arriving at the cocktail bar, I sat down while he swanned off without asking me what I wanted and came back with a couple of Cosmopolitans. After years of being in a relationship where I had to make most of the decisions and DO all the stuff, I was a bit bowled over by someone actually using a bit of initiative and taking charge. Writing this down, it sounds a bit pathetic but it’s where I was at back then. I was impressed by this guy’s no-nonsense forthrightness; it was such a refreshing change. (This kind of stuff still impresses me now to be honest.)
We had a much better night than I’d expected, he was actually pretty good fun and wasn’t the immature cocksure guy, that, at 6 years younger than me, I’d perhaps presumed. Still, when he messaged me afterwards to hang out again, I told him no. I still liked his friend, even though it wasn’t going to happen.
He went to Afghanistan for 6 months not long after that, so apart from a couple of messages sending him safe wishes, we weren’t in contact and I kind of forgot all about him.
A year later, he was back in my home town having bought a flat there and nearly having left the military. A message asking if I wanted to meet up in the few weeks he was there over Christmas and New Year popped up. He asked if I’d go running with him. Why not? I’d be running anyway. A quick poll of my friends asking if running classed as a date remained inconclusive.
We went running. Quite a few times. He was still insanely fit, but that’s a given as daily phys (exercise) is part of their job. Running progressed to dinner and cocktails. Dinner and cocktails progressed to hanging out at his new flat, affectionately nicknamed the Crack Den due to the lack of furniture. He cooked me dinner, eaten while sat on the wooden floor surrounded by candles, sleeping on a mattress on the floor under the stars of the glass roof on the mezzanine.
I became used to his penchant for being naked. I wasn’t complaining in the slightest. One time he ran upstairs and came back down in his Marines Blues sans shirt. Not entirely sure why, but oh hello. He loved to cook, and was pretty damn good at it. I loved his affection for teapots and bacon breakfasts. Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl would play on the radio while we’d have lazy weekend breakfasts with nowhere to be apart from right where we were.
He went back down south for the last few months of being a Marine. I didn’t think much of it as I wasn’t really looking for a relationship at that point; I’d just decided to quit my job to go travel the world. But when he invited me to London for the weekend, I went. Then a weekend in Yorkshire. Then every time he came back to Lincoln we’d hang out. He took me on a picnic because I told him I hadn’t had a picnic in years. We went to Morrisons for breakfast like an old married couple. Always with the proviso that “it wasn’t a relationship”. That we could see other people. After all, pretty much the entire 6 months we’d been seeing each other we’d known I’d be leaving for a while, and I still thought he was a bit of a player.
Laid in bed one sunny morning in May I asked him what he thought would have happened if I wasn’t going travelling. “What, like if something would have developed you mean?”
“I think something already has developed, don’t you?”
I still went travelling. He rang to talk to me in the airport just as I was waiting to board my plane. He’d never phoned me before. We said see you later, not goodbye. He joked about coming out to see me when I was in Asia, but I think we both knew he wouldn’t. He had his own stuff to do, I had mine. We kept in touch though.
One thing I always loved about him was his ability to seemingly not give a shit about anything or anyone, but that also meant that he wasn’t the most aware of other people’s feelings. “Yeah I’m sleeping with X, but it’s just casual” was how I knew he started seeing someone while I was away. Just because you’re expecting something, doesn’t make it easy. And makes you realise that what your friends had been telling you for months was perhaps true; that it wasn’t just a fling. Maybe it had been a relationship.
To be continued…