Continued from Part One…
Regardless of what it actually was, the fact still remained that we weren’t really together. So I went on to have that perfect week in New Zealand with Johnny #2 and knew things would probably figure themselves out one way or another.
And so, less than two weeks after landing back in the UK, I found myself in a cafe in Southampton waiting to be picked up and finding myself getting a little nervous. I’d not seen him for over a year.
I doubt he was nervous. He wasn’t that kind of person. Even if he was, he’d have never let on. But as soon as I saw him walk down the street, face lit up with a smile when he saw me, I knew it would be alright.
We spent the next however-many days like nothing much had changed; like I hadn’t really been away for a year and that we were still in this non-relationship. He’d left the military and had gone to University, I’d come back and was going to get a job and move somewhere. We still had our own things to do.
But we carried on, our lives intertwining a little more each time we’d see each other. He came up to Lincolnshire to visit his Mum who greeted me like long-lost family when I went and stayed with them for a week, and joined me at my god-daughter’s christening. We spent a week in Dorset, catching up with some of his friends and him booking the cutest little thatched B&B because he knew I’d love it. Once he drove 4 hours to come see me for just one night. We spent blissful romantic weekends in the countryside, mainly eating, talking and not getting dressed.
But I still maintained the non-relationship status. I was scared of getting hurt, I wasn’t ready and I didn’t think he really wanted a proper relationship with me. I wasn’t sure whether I actually wanted one with him, I loved the freedom we still had. When he met my parents it was by occasion, rather than a deliberate act. “Mum, Dad, this is The Marine”. I never called him by his name, to de-personalise it somehow, as if giving him a name would make it into something more.
We never really talked about it; both of us too scared for our own reasons I think. He’d sometimes exclaim how he was surprised to find he didn’t want to sleep with anyone else. He’d talk about us doing things in the future, which I’d mildly panic at and change the subject. I still somehow thought that he didn’t really care that much, because he didn’t say or show it in the ways I was used to.
During all this, I’d decided to move to Cheltenham. For many reasons, but one that I probably didn’t disclose to many people was that it was closer to Southampton so he’d only be a couple of hours away.
A couple of months before I moved, I’d started to spend time with and grow closer to one of my friends, A. We’d worked together before I left but we’d spent a lot of time chatting while I was away. I’d been there to talk to when he split up with his girlfriend, and he’d been there to make me laugh when I was feeling lonely while travelling.
He was different to The Marine. He wasn’t 4 hours away, for a start.
We started to hang out more, did fun stuff at the weekends. He took me out on a proper date where I wore a frock and he held the door open for me and asked before he kissed me. We climbed mountains and rode bikes and laughed for hours.
I’d soon be moving away. He wanted a proper relationship (albeit long distance, after asking me, without success, if I’d reconsider moving) and wanted me to stop seeing The Marine. But I couldn’t.
I couldn’t commit to The Marine either though. I was open about A, but with a dose of guilt. I still remember his face when I mentioned it nonchalantly on a weekend away; it was sad.
It was probably about this time that I realised that the whole non-relationship thing wasn’t quite working any more. I knew that as long as I was with The Marine, I couldn’t really meet anyone else, and if I was to be with The Marine, it would have to become more than it was. Which I wasn’t sure I wanted. We were still at different points in our lives; I still needed to go fly and spread my wings.
To be continued…