You wet my eyes.

That initial feeling you have when you meet someone new, you expect or hope for fireworks. The feelings that you get when they do something that gives you goosebumps, the things that makes you smile. The gentle tug of your sleeve followed by said smile and a wink when they want you to look at something that they’ve seen, a wink that could melt a snowman’s socks. That person who could rearrange your soul with just one look, someone who fits with you like a plug in a socket. The type of sound they make when they laugh. Their laugh clearly belongs to them and you know immediately that you love it.The way that they play with their hair. It’s new, but it’s exciting and scary all at the same time.

Isn’t life for all of us a roll of the dice? You take a chance on someone because it might be the best thing to ever happen to you. Sure, you could get hurt, but you gamble, don’t you? Science will tell you that it takes a third of a second to fall for someone. If it goes wrong though, shouldn’t you be grateful that the wounds you have, you survived long enough to be able to lick?

A random Thursday is spent late night shopping with one of his best friends. A girl waves at them from across the street and whilst he doesn’t recognise her, his friend does. They cross over, they’re introduced, and she seems perfectly lovely. The two of them chat away as old friends do, and their accidental meeting ends with an invite to a party a couple of days later. His friend is into the girl, and begs him to come along. A plan is agreed, even if it’s shit, it’ll only be a couple of hours, no harm in meeting new people and helping out a friend. You want to impress everyone so he dresses accordingly.

It’s a nice night, a lot of people are in the back garden listening to music and enjoying themselves. It’s cool, a lot better than he thought it would be. He knows nearly nobody there but it’s okay. More than one girl takes his eye, but he also knows that’s not the best thing to be thinking about when he’s trying to be a good wingman for his friend. The night gets longer, the drinks flow and the conversations continue. One girl kept glancing at him but she wasn’t doing anything about it. They get to chatting as the evening passes, and he doesn’t have to give anything to her but his attention, something he was willing to do. When she stroked his neck, he finally dared to believe that it was going to happen. They kissed more than once, it was almost perfect.

The night ends and he goes home alone, but numbers are exchanged.

Circumstances alter when he finds out that she was already with someone when she kissed him, so they lose touch. It’s not something he wanted to do but it’s his decision and he’s okay with it. Eventually.

Weeks later, his phone rings at 2am and it’s her asking to see him. She’s nearby, can they talk? It’s nice to be nice, and no man should ever want a lady to be out on her own that late at night, so he acquiesces and apologies are made from her immediately for what went before. One of his rules is that as long as you say sorry for something you’ve done, no grudges are kept, everything is okay again. Forgiving can be forgetting. Trying to understand her was a bit like pointing a microphone towards the stage at a gig, and hoping to hear someone whisper, but he was willing to give it a go.

She’s single now and things progress between them as the weeks and months continue. His rental property agreement is coming to an end and whilst he’s thinking of moving in with a friend, they decide to get a place together. It’s great, they move in all of their individual stuff and both decorate together. Fabulous nights follow. He has a photograph of her on his bedside table and she has one of him on her one. Random thoughts became an actual reality. Discarded tubes of toothpaste, plates left in the sink and underwear left on the bathroom floor were things that he never expected, but it was okay because it was her. She tells him every day that she loves him but he doesn’t need to hear it if he has her word that she does. Once is always enough, just another rule.

A day comes and he can’t find his keys. They’re not on his side of the bed, so he checks her side, just in case they’ve fallen down there. A letter is found and it’s open and it’s from the guy that she was with when they first kissed. He shouldn’t read, but can’t help it. It’s pretty explicit and it’s clear that he’s visited their house more than once when he was away for work. His heart forgets to be a heart for a second. It’s been broken before but not like this.

If you go looking for something, then you might well find it. It hurts all the more when you find something that you didn’t want to, and you sure as shit, didn’t expect. It’s something, a whole lot of somethings. The problem with growing older with someone is that you realise that you’re into something bigger than yourself, so you have a responsibility to another.

She comes home but he doesn’t say anything, just gives a hug and says hey. Are the cruellest lies told in silence? Pretty quickly after, he watches as she texts someone that isn’t him. Clearly, sometimes pain is the driver and it doesn’t have brakes. There was so much she could have said but she chose not to.

He thinks she still loves him, but can’t try and escape the fact that he’s not enough for her. He’s not blaming her for falling back in love with an ex. There’s no anger either, just a lot of pain. He thought he could imagine how much this would hurt, but he was wrong.

It’s important for them to talk. She doesn’t know entirely why yet, but she’s about to find out. She knows there’s something that he’s not telling her. He knows it’s time to do something that he doesn’t want to do but he has to. There’s a look in her eye, maybe it’s regret. Who fucking cares any more. He holds her and looks directly in her eyes so she knows that he sees her. The conversation happens, they’re oil and water now and she knows it.

He leaves and now he’s not looking at her any more. He doesn’t turn around because he can’t, no point in looking back. He calls a girl who has been messaging him for weeks and who is clearly interested. He convinced himself that it wasn’t cool though, so he stopped after that initial call. Why? Not because he was thinking of finding someone new, but he didn’t want to be like her. No longer trusting someone is saddening if you still love them.

I only called her one time.

@TheSamMcLeod

You need to know.

There are over seven billion people in the world, yet so many believe that there’s only one person out there for each of us. Can you only have one soulmate? That doesn’t sound fair, don’t we all deserve and want the chance of having a fairytale relationship or romance without it being limited to just one person?

Apparently we all fall in love with four different people in our lifetime, so there’s more than one person on the face of the planet that’s suited for you. If it’s true, does it matter then if your first, second or third love doesn’t work out, as long as the fourth person is the right one? Maybe you’ll only fall in love two or three times, so wouldn’t that would render the notion of just one soulmate as absolute bullshit? Maybe you’ll be that lucky person that meets your soulmate immediately, that ultimate complementary match.

Stick the word soulmate into any internet search engine and the response you’ll get, will be along the lines of, “a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.” Sounds about right, just someone that you have a deep affinity with, compatibility is key. If we had a wishlist, we’d all pick different things that we’d want from a partner, but someone who you connect with on an emotional and physical level would be a good start, right? Hopefully not too much to ask.

Just because you think that your relationship is meant to be, does it really mean anything? The odds aren’t great for soulmates or whatever else you want to call them. Four out of over seven billion? You’d never part with your money for any other bet, would you? Yet, every day, we gamble on love. Life is different every day, perhaps you’ll never know how lucky you’ll be, but surely there must be someone out there for everyone, just because you haven’t found that person yet doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. There’s university research out there that reckons less than 3 in 10 of us meet our soulmate and get together. What chance do we really have? Maybe some of us are luckier than others though. How many people in your life have you said those three words to? Maybe it gets to a stage where it’s five words. Maybe as long as you remember that it’s about both of you living this adventure together, the pair of you might just do okay.

The three words have left my lips to eight different girls in my lifetime. The five words? Only to three, so does that mean that there’s still one girl left out there for me? It’s only later when you reflect on things though, that sometimes you realise that those three little words get thrown around too easily and you can say those words to some people, but not really mean them. You can get caught up in the moment for sure, but who pretends in their heart about loving someone? Not fucking cool. You always mean the five words though, don’t you?

Can you remember the first time that you told someone that you loved them and meant it?

The first time? She was and is amazing. We shouldn’t have gotten together, she was with someone else at the time but there was something there and you know that when you look at someone in a particular way and they look at you in a similar fashion, that there might be a chance. Circumstances changed months later, and one telephone call from her changed everything. She’s so far out of my league that it’s unbelievable, always has been, this boy definitely got lucky. She’s pretty, super intelligent and she has a smile that will always be imprinted on your mind, if you’re lucky enough to see it. She told me those words first, but it took me a little while to get there too. It sucks, doesn’t it, you’re almost automatically put under pressure to respond with the same three words if someone says them to you? Doesn’t it matter more though if you say something that important that you know when you’re at that stage? It could and should have been the most meaningful relationship ever, but sometimes boys fuck up. We were in love, but now she’s in love with someone else and she’s happy, ergo, I’m happy. She gave me more than I could have ever expected and I’ll always be humbled by it. If I saw her today, she wouldn’t get the five words, but she’d definitely get the three. A relationship can destroy you when it ends, but one day you wake up, and it hurts less than it did the day before. You try to get better every day, you walk like you have somewhere to go, and you hope that there is another opportunity with someone else.

The second time? We met through work, she called me one day for help in finding a new job and coffee was arranged. We’d spoken about a hundred times on the telephone, but never met. Complete randomness, what should have been a half hour conversation turned into two hours. She likes the same bands that I do, she quoted film lines at me verbatim. When you smile with someone, with your eyes, as well as your mouth, then a part of you wonders about something more. Days and week passed and we met up more than once for drinks and food. Things progressed and then one day, I blurted those words out before she did. Maybe she felt the aforementioned pressure but she responded by saying those same words. We spent a lot of time together but then she had to move away for work. Conversations became less frequent and she met someone else. She told me she that loves him, it seems he loves her, so how can you not be happy for that one person who was in your life that you fell for?

The third time? It still hurts to this day and it’s difficult. She’s the third of three people on the planet to hear those five words and she’s the third girl to be way above anyone’s league, especially this guy. Punching above my weight, should have been a fucking boxer.

It’s difficult and ultimately wrong to put yourself out there again when you’re still thinking about someone who went before. You try though, but you’re doing well if you can manage to follow things through with someone else. Number four? It hasn’t happened but there’s a girl. You can be old friends with someone and then one day realise that there is the potential of something more. Leave your pride at the door and put your heart out there, right? Words are said and a rejection follows, but it’s almost a relief. No three or five word sentences are spoken but there might always be a part that wonders. Still thinking about number three though, so it wouldn’t be fair to the girl that might have been number four. The search continues, or does it?

Without all of these beautiful people, I might never have made it this far. Without them, I might never have even tried. The thing is though, you can try and move on and still not be over someone who you’ve said those five words to.

ILYSB

@TheSamMcLeod

Dying flowers.

Maybe it’s naivety, but one day you begin to realise that there are surprises everywhere in your life that you haven’t seen coming. The very definition of surprise, I guess. Most of the time, we see only what we want to see though. You can read a situation and think that you know what’s going on, but do you really? You might decide one day that you know what you want to do for a living, but if it’s not what you truly want, aren’t you misleading yourself? You can like someone, but you know that there is absolutely no way that they’re ever going to like you back. What if you part of you thinks that they do, are you conning yourself once more?

Perhaps we deceive ourselves because we like to be deceived. We want to believe something to be true so badly in that moment, that we end up kidding ourselves on. If we want something to be true, don’t all of us generally believe it to be true? It turns out that you can fool yourself, and whilst you might think it’s impossible, it’s one of the easiest things of all.

Haven’t we all been misled at some moments in our lives by others? It isn’t always your fault if you get things wrong or misjudge a situation though.

There’s a girl. We meet through work and whilst she’s pretty, there’s no attraction. You can find someone attractive without doing anything about it, right? Both of us, as well as others, have to interact over the next number of months on various different projects. Sometimes we all grab coffee or lunch together, and you realise the more that you enjoy someone’s company, the more time that you spend with them. Our work ends, but the relationship develops over time when we bump into each other randomly. One night in a bar, I’m out with my friends, she’s out with her friends, a lot of which are mutual, and we come across each other again. We hug, we chat, we catch up, and at the end of the night, a bunch of us head back to her flat to keep the night going.

It’s a late one and we’re all a little bit worse for wear. A lot of people crash out and I’m invited to stay too, and to sleep in her bed. It’s purely platonic, and I’m happy to accept, and not to have to fork out a fortune on a taxi. Two people in a king size bed, both hugging the opposite edges, we couldn’t have slept further apart. There’s a cuteness to it that makes me smile though, and I sleep.

As is the case after a heavy one, you wake in the middle of the night dehydrated. I get up, knowing that there are bottles of water in the fridge. As I reach the hallway, the front door opens and I smell the perfume before I see the girl. Fuck though, I’m just wearing Calvins. She closes the door and turns around. Hands down, she is the most aesthetically perfect girl that I’ve ever seen in my life. Think Katherine Jenkins multiplied by a thousand. She’s beautiful, mesmerising and dressed to draw eyes in her direction. She’s grinning at me, which is fair given my outfit, and I can’t concentrate. She introduces herself as the flatmate, let’s call her F, and she bravely leans in for a hug. Given my attire, I end up giving the shittest hug in history. It looks like I’ve shot myself in the foot within ten seconds of meeting her. A smile from her and an embarrassed grin from me follows, and goodnights are exchanged.

Sleep is difficult, there are butterflies. The morning comes, I get dressed, make coffee for my friend, say my thanks, we hug, and I leave. It turns out that I’ll only see her once more because she has to relocate for work, but she’s not who I’m thinking about. I don’t see the flatmate in the morning but I think about her more than I should. She has eyes that make me shy and has the gentlest whisper of a voice. I resign myself to the fact that I’ll probably never see her again.

A notification pops up on my iPhone the day after, from someone requesting to add me on Facebook but I don’t recognise the name. I click on it and I know immediately who it is. Isn’t it funny how one message can make your day a lot brighter? We don’t interact much though, and I put her out of my mind, tough as it is. I don’t have the courage to ask her out because it’ll be awkward when she says no. I’m 99% sure that she doesn’t like me in that way, but there’s always that 1% that keeps me guessing. You can want who you want, and that’s okay. The problem is that the other person can also want who they want.

Weeks and months pass, and she occasionally crosses my mind.

A night out with the boys isn’t a regular thing, but our calendars finally align and we arrange dinner and drinks. Party of five, three of us married, one soon to be engaged and a single man who sometimes thinks of someone he could never have. The night is suitably raucous, bars follow the restaurant, a nightclub follows the bars. Later, it’s time for a taxi and to head for bed.

The taxi queue is huge and guess who’s in front of me? It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, and at least I’m wearing more clothes this time. We catch up and we’re heading in the same direction, so she offers to drop me off on the way. Only an idiot would say no. We catch up, and before I get to where I need to be, she asks if I’d like to come in for a glass of wine and some food? Again, only an idiot would say no.

Wine is poured and food is ordered. She asks me to stick a film on, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is in her collection. No brainer, right? We drink, we chat, we laugh. She quotes the film regularly, could she be perfect?

The film progresses, and the doorbell rings just as F and Jessica Rabbit say at the same time, “You don’t know how hard it is being a woman looking the way I do.” She goes to open the door and I whisper the next line, “You don’t know how hard it is being a man looking at a woman, looking the way you do.”

It’s only when she’s at the front door that I notice a photograph of her, a man and a baby.

She returns with the food and I ask about the picture. She looks at me candidly, and tells me that it’s her husband and her son and that both are out of town. She tells me that he cheated on her and that she wants to have her revenge, to get her own back with someone that she’s always liked. No need to worry, I’m only responsible for what I say, not about what you understand, she said.

My appetite is gone on both counts, time to go.

One of the things that I always wanted to happen, will never happen now. Who wants to be that guy? It could have been something that blossomed, but now it’s like dying flowers. It seems that some things that burn bright, burn short.

@TheSamMcLeod

Maybe you’re listening.

There are times during certain situations when words escape you, when you don’t always know what to say. Maybe someone you know has suffered the loss of someone close to them, or is going through the heartbreak that can come with the end of a relationship. Maybe someone has asked you a question and it’s thrown you completely. Sure, you know plenty of things, but your world is filled with a lot of other stuff that you don’t know anything about. The right words to say can be one of those things. Not always being able to say the right thing, at the right time is confusing, but it’s something that happens to all of us now and again. You can nail it, you can know in that moment exactly what you need to say, but then, on occasion, you have the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Aren’t there so many times in your life when an email, a phone call or a text just won’t cut it? You need to have an actual conversation. Some of us find it easy to open up, whilst some of us are emotional hand grenades. Every day of your life involves you answering questions. No, yes, I’m not sure. Some questions are clearly more difficult than others, but the answers even more so. The ability to say yes or no is easy for some, but can be so difficult for the rest of us.

Take meeting someone new that you like, for example, isn’t all that you want to do is to enchant, impress or surprise them? Your reply to every question they ask you, is usually yes. It takes courage to say no though when a part of you wants to be saying yes. There’s no point in saying maybe, if you feel like you should say no. If you’re at a loss for words, isn’t it better to learn to keep your mouth shut? If you can’t find the right words, if everything you might say could be wildly off the mark, perhaps you should remind yourself that this could be the right time to listen? No is a complete sentence though. Don’t you have a right to say the n word without having to explain yourself? Maybe you say no to a lot of things, just so you can say yes to the one person or the one thing that you know you want. We all have different hopes and dreams, but don’t some of them go on hold if someone says no to you?

No one ever intrinsically really wants to hurt someone’s feelings if they ask you something important, and you can’t say yes. You might not always want to care too much, but you do, don’t you? The problem is knowing how to say no.

The ninth letter and the sixth letter of the alphabet. I and F, if. When someone asks you an important question, doesn’t so much weight hang on that one word? There are so many things we feel we should do or say that we really don’t have to. Sometimes we do have to though.

If I was asked a difficult question, I’d like to think I’d know just what to say.

It was a Saturday night and a friend is having a housewarming party. It’s always nice to get invited to things, so obviously the response is yes. I’ll know next to no one there, but there’s a fun element in meeting new people and having conversations about different subjects that I’ve maybe never had before. He’s super popular with everyone, a cool trait to have. There are so many people of so many various creeds, faiths and nationalities in his place, that Benetton could rock up to film a new advert, and no one would bat an eyelid. Wine is opened, there are a ton of beers in a bath that’s filled with ice, there are so many spirits and mixers on the go, you could make pretty much any cocktail that you want to. New people are met, conversations are had, and there is so much laughter. Pretty much a perfect evening so far. It looks like everyone is having a good time, people who have never met before add each other on Facebook and Twitter, because connections have been made. Numbers are exchanged.

The kitchen is the best place to be whilst at a party, right? A side effect of this, is that you end up opening beers for people or topping up their wine glass, but that’s okay. Standing next to the one bottle opener and corkscrew is my own fault, but it’s cool, always a good conversation starter. A girl that I’ve never met or even noticed yet, is looking around confused. I ask her if she’s okay, and she replies that she is, she just needs more wine. It’s lucky that someone is stood in the same postcode as a corkscrew. I ask which colour she would like, and I duly oblige. We start chatting, and she tells me that she’s Canadian and is travelling around Europe before having to go back home to start a new job in a month or so. Her conversation is on point, she’s clearly clever, and the time that we chatted with each other was enjoyable. As is the case at most parties, you get speaking to other people though, and your conversations move on.

I live in the city, so I know that I’m headed home alone, but his place is huge and a lot of people will be staying over, because they’ve travelled to see him and they don’t know the city. She’s one of those people. We bump into each other again later on in the night, clearly she needs more wine, and we chat once more. She asks for recommendations of things to see and do, and I scribble down the best attractions and the things that she shouldn’t miss, I’m not just a guy with corkscrew skills. One of the things I mention is the beach and she seems super excited to see it, and asks me if I would like to go with her, some friends and grab a coffee or an ice cream tomorrow. Given that coffee is always best enjoyed on a Sunday morning, I agree, and we arrange a time to meet back at my friend’s place, and then I can show her and her friends around.

I return at the admittedly early arranged time, but it’s only her standing there, everyone else is too hungover, it seems. It’s cool though, a couple of hours at the beach is always good, whether alone or in company. I point out things on the way, she takes plenty of photographs, of the buildings, of the beach, of the dolphins that we see swimming in the harbour and we grab coffee. It was fun, I walk her back, we hug, say our goodbyes, and I head back home. Not at any point has anything romantic ever crossed my mind, I was just being nice. If someone is nice or polite to you, it doesn’t always mean that they’re flirting with you.

A couple of days later, I get a message asking if I’d like to go and visit her, have dinner, drinks and stay with her? Maybe I could join her on the next part of her trip and we could see more things together? How bad are men at reading signals? The dots begin to connect, but everything has changed in that moment. Too many things are in the cons column for it to even be a possibility. I’m going to have to say no to her because I still want to be saying yes to someone else.

Maybe I don’t know anything anymore. Perhaps the silence, between that message coming through and me still not replying, is only awkward because I don’t have any confidence in it. Don’t you have to decide who your priority is without feeling guilty? I don’t want to hurt you, but it’s not fair to say yes, when I need to say no.

I write because I never know just what to say.

@TheSamMcLeod

If.

How cool would it be if you could go back in time and have at your fingertips, all of the knowledge that you have now? If you could, you’d probably give your younger self a ton of advice. Which career path to follow, who you should pursue romantically, where in the world you want to see, decide on all of the things that you have in your day to day life that will make you happy. Sure, there will be some bad days and nights along the way, but you try as hard as you can to have the right people around you who enrich your life and automatically make your day better.

There will be a misstep now and again but just maybe our mistakes are the experiences that we need to learn. Things are constantly changing, you’re always evolving, whether it’s emotionally, physically or in any other number of ways. Your life won’t always be perfect, but don’t you want to look back on it and know that’s how you wanted it to be? You have to make the decisions though at some point, some easy, some more difficult, but time isn’t going to be on your side forever. Perhaps one day, you have an epiphany and you know what it is that’s out there for you from now on. Something can happen to you that makes you stop for a second and really think about your own mortality. Today was such a day. The human heart beats sixty to eighty times a minute. You don’t feel it, or notice it, but you certainly don’t want it to stop beating.

Has anyone ever made a bucket list?

I’ve done plenty of things in my life so far that I wanted to do, some big, some small. Get a tattoo, accept a dare. go on a blind date. Ask out the girl of my dreams, she said no, probably sensible on her part. Run across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise and sunset. Attend a film premiere. Look out from the crown of the Statue of Liberty, look out over New York from the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock observatory deck. See a band live in said city. Visit the Library of Congress, spend some time in Washington DC, visit the White House. To have done it when Obama led that great nation, was even better. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it’s chilly up there, wrap up warm. Get lost in Venice with a girlfriend. Live in a different country, stand on the glassdeck of the Willis Tower in Chicago and check out the city. See the Northern Lights, take in a game at the Camp Nou. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Visit Arlington Cemetery. Cross the Equator. Ride the Cyclone at Coney Island and the Ferris Wheel in Toys ‘R’ Us in Times Square. RIP. Not ashamed to say that I jumped in front of a kid just so that I could have the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo. Sorry little man. Complete a Man v Food challenge. Try oysters. Buy someone a first edition of their favourite book. Visit the Red Light District in Amsterdam. If you’re about to ask a certain question, then the answer is no. Learn a foreign language that wasn’t forced on you from school. My Mandarin is fairly coming along! Stand on the pitch at Celtic Park. Complete a round of golf in under 100 strokes. Treat my girlfriend to front row seats to New York Fashion Week. Kiss a female celebrity. Look for the Loch Ness Monster. Ten minutes and that one was ticked off. Send a woman a drink across the bar. She didn’t send one back. Eat the hottest chilli pepper in the world. Dance on the piano from Big. See the Berlin Wall.

It’s nice when you can do things that you’ve always wanted to. Now’s the time to make a new list though.

If it’s meant to be, it’ll be?

There is no cure for curiosity, right? It’s difficult to take that first step and sometimes you don’t want to do all of your things alone. Maybe you need to take the plunge and ask the question, if there’s someone special that you want to share these things with? It’s a lot like penguins before they enter the ocean. Loads of them will go right to the edge, but none will leap into the water until one goes first, and then everyone follows. If one hesitates, they all hesitate. Take the chance, right?

Sometimes, you have no idea what it is you want, you just know you want. Sometimes, you know exactly what it is that you want to do though, to experience, to see. It can be difficult to think of things, on some days you’re not exactly getting punched in the face by the good idea fairy. If you make a list, does it matter if it has one thing or a hundred things on it? A small list is made. Baby steps, a list can always be added to.

Sit on the H of the Hollywood sign drinking bourbon. Write a book. Visit every NFL stadium, visit every MLB stadium. Combine them both and raise money for charity. I’m going to need some serious time off for that one. Visit Alcatraz and then run across the Golden Gate Bridge. Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Go to the airport and take the next flight to somewhere random. One of these is in progress and one will happen next weekend.

Wherever your story takes you, however difficult it is at the time, isn’t there is always some sort of hope that you’ll be okay? Better to be an optimist at heart?

The only things I like less than mysteries are surprises, so this will be a cathartic thing. You can put your entire personal life in a box and slam the lid shut but what’s the point? It’s a cliche but are we here for a good time or a long time?

Do we do all that we set out to do? Will we manage to tick everything off?

Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, maybe we will, maybe we won’t.

You have to ask yourself many questions when you’re making a list. What if you need to ask one more question?

@TheSamMcLeod

Pretending.

Omertà. Among the Mafia, it’s the code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to the police. It’s a slight variation of the Italian word, umiltà, which means humility. It’s about having rules and solidarity with the people that you’re closest to.

Maybe all of us in our lives have an internal code of conduct. A way of how we want to live, how we want to behave every day, how we want to be perceived by others. Is it just morality? Perhaps it’s intrinsic inside you, something that you know that you have to stick to at all times, no matter what, no questions asked.

Some rules are nowhere near as important as morality, but if you make rules, you have to stick to them. No possibility at all of deviating from them, no matter how much you might want to. Some rules are meant to be broken, but there are also rules that you can’t break. Omertà.

Ladies have a code, right? You can be damn sure that some boys have one too, although, clearly, they all vary between groups of friends, mine included. Some of the rules are serious, some are ridiculous but they’re all adhered to.

If you’re introducing a friend to a girl that you know that he likes, he automatically becomes the best guy on the planet. You talk him up in every single way that you can. It’s always your job to be a good wingman.

It’s unacceptable to try and hit on your friend’s girl, during, or after their relationship. You’re also forbidden from asking her if she has any friends that she can set you up with. Not cool.

It’s your responsibility to tell your friend if you ever discover that his girl is being unfaithful.

If your friend has a girl, you’re always super nice to her every time that you’re in her company. If he asks for your honest opinion on her though, then that’s what he gets. No bullshit, no sugarcoating, no pretence. If we see that girl messing you about and expecting you to do whatever she wants you to, all of the time, a serious conversation will be had.

If your friend is out with a new girl for the first time, and within the first ten minutes he’s not feeling it, you will answer his cry for help text with a call, giving him an excuse to slip away. 100% of the time.

No man hug takes place without a handshake first.

No selfies, even if a pretty girl asks you to take one with her. It’s not happening, they’re strictly forbidden.

If the girl wears sunglasses on top of her head, she’s given a wide berth. Just take them off ladies, we want to see all of you.

A girl with a double-barrelled surname is probably best avoided. There’s history and it isn’t good.

Food is never shared, under any circumstances. None of the friends can ever have a sip of anyone else’s beer, but we will buy you your own one.

Neither hamburgers or pizza are ever eaten with any form of cutlery. Ever. Ever ever.

You always offer up the last beer and last slice of pizza, even if you want both.

If two of you walk into a public bathroom at the same time, and there are only three urinals that are free, it’s immediately understood that neither of you takes the middle one. Conversation is a no-no until you both leave.

You do not touch anyone’s laptop or phone to send prank emails or messages. No bueno.

If you go on holiday, definitely do not send us postcards. Offers of duty free are expected though.

Rock, paper, scissors will be used to settle any disagreements about who is right.

If any of us are hanging out and regardless of whether or not the DVD is present, if Die Hard is on TV, it’s getting watched. Best Christmas movie ever.

It’s okay for some or all of us to have that same crush, but we all know the rules. If two or more of us happen to like the same girl, whoever calls dibs first, has dibs.

My best friend is in town for work and we arrange to meet at his hotel for drinks before heading out. I get there just as a message comes through that he’s stuck in a meeting and will be late. No problem, a drink at the bar by myself, it is. A beer in hand and football on the TV, things could be worse. Things are about to get a whole lot better. A girl walks out of the lift, orders a drink and sits down at the bar too. We lock eyes, smile at each other and then I get back to the football. It turns out that she’s into the game as well and also begins to watch. Truth be told, she’s more vocal than I am, which makes me smile and we get chatting. Her friend is running late too, so we spend over an hour talking all sorts of random nonsense to each other. She makes me laugh and smile to the point that I’m not even chasing my friend to see how much longer he’ll be. She’s fantastic company and it doesn’t hurt that she’s super cute. Her friend finally rocks up, so we smile and say our goodbyes with lingering glances. Only then do I realise that I didn’t ask for her number. All I have is her first name and the hotel that she’s staying in, but no one wants to be that creepy guy hanging about all night waiting for her to return.

Shortly after, my friend arrives, apologises, and gets changed quickly. We hug, handshake first though, remember, and we head out. It’s always good to see an old friend and we catch up about everything. We talk shit about sports, what our mutual friends have been getting up to and he tells me about this girl that he’s met. She sounds amazing, but if I ever meet her, she could be subjected to some of the rules. I tell him about the pretty much perfect hour that I just spent with a girl waiting for him and he reminds me of the rules too. It’s just how it is, any of our other friends would think the same. As I don’t have her number, the possibility that anything will happen is highly unlikely though. Drinks go on, long into the night and we leave at closing time. A plan is made, hotel for a quick nightcap and then a taxi for me once we’re done catching up.

We get there and the bar is empty, apart from two girls, sat chatting to the barman. Upon hearing the night porter let us in, they turn round and my friend’s face breaks into a massive smile, at just about the same time as mine. There’s the girl from earlier, how lucky am I? There’s the girl I was telling you about, he says to me. I’m no longer smiling, I’m hoping that she’s not the same girl but I know in my heart that she is.

We get drinks and start talking, but I’m not a big part of the conversation. She looks at me quizzically and you can tell that she’s wondering what’s changed in the space of a few hours, but I can’t tell her. I’m just trying to play it cool now, but that’s not what I want to do. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that there is something between us. He doesn’t click, but then she does as he’s talking to her, she knows. She smiles at me wistfully and I gently shrug. Dibs.

Crushed. I guess that’s why it’s called a crush.

Some things have to remain a secret though. Omertà.

@TheSamMcLeod

Minus the tears.

You can ask questions of yourself constantly. Sometimes those questions are not massively important in the grand scheme of things. What do I want for dinner? Which outfit am I rocking today? Now and again, the questions are a bit more serious. What do I want to do with my life, what do I want to achieve? Do I want to be in a relationship and in love? Who do I want that person to be? So many questions and sometimes, you don’t have all of the answers. Occasionally though, someone or something happens to you, and your question which you couldn’t find the answer to, gets answered for you.

Starting anything new is like a roller coaster. Ups and downs, but that’s okay, nothing is ever perfect. She was close to it though. I didn’t accidentally fall in love with her, but it wasn’t on purpose. You take a chance because you should. Sure, you might get hurt, but without taking the chance, how will you know? It would be like not going to the playground because you might fall off of a swing.

She was amazing. She is amazing. Her eyes have an endless twinkle. It took us some time but we got to the stage where we could mention the L word. Sometimes though, as good as things can be, and despite how long or short of a time that you’ve spent together, things come to an end. Could it be that the best time to figure out who you are, and what you really want out of life is just when someone breaks your heart?

We’ve all experienced being loved and we’ve all experienced having our hearts broken. Those experiences aren’t the same for everyone but we’ve all had them. It doesn’t matter who ended things, you’re both still allowed to hurt. One morning you’ll wake up and your heart, for the first time, won’t hurt as much as it did the day before. It might take a month, six months or a year of sleepless nights. You have to keep going. Letting go of someone doesn’t mean that you don’t care about them anymore. Perhaps you just hit that point when it dawns on you that the only person that you can really count on, is yourself. It’s not strength necessarily, isn’t it understanding? It can be the most painful thing you might ever have to do, hopefully though, you’ll get to a place where you’re okay again. Maybe one day, you’ll be able to have a relationship, even if it’s just a friendship. Right now though, any sort of relationship or any sort of conversation is out of the question. Both are irretrievable, at least for the foreseeable future.

I know we’re not supposed to talk.

In the aftermath of something ending, your brain works overtime, it would be easy to drive yourself crazy. You’re missing her or him, but you know that you need to move on. If you can’t do anything about it though, then you have to let it go. You know it’s for the best, and yet you still question things. Those fucking questions again.

Your heart and your head are a mess. Change is difficult, you can want to fight to hold on but sometimes it’s easier to not fight and to just let go. Maybe if you can manage to say goodbye to each other on decent terms, then there might be a future for you both in some way, shape or form.

I don’t want to and I can’t force it though. It’s causing hurt and pain, so this isn’t meant for me right now. Hurt and pain aren’t meant for any of us. Maybe when emotions are raw, the more you fight for something that isn’t for you, the more it’ll hit you back harder. It’s pretty much impossible to try and discard the memories though.

No matter how much suffering you’ve been through, you want to keep a hold of those memories. So I saved all of the messages, all of the texts, all of the videos. Those are the tangible memories, rather than the ones you think wistfully about in your head. Just to remind myself of how good it is. Shit, how it was.

I look at her eyes and there is a nothing there that means everything. Zero trace of anything that had gone before and I knew it was done. Relief, in a way, we were over. I felt an incredible sadness, because I might never look at her the same way again. I’ll never be that boy again because I was her boy. She might not admit it now, but she’ll never be that girl again because she was my girl. The girl who chased me to try and make me realise that she could be my everything. The girl who put up with me saying no all of the time but who loved me anyway, until something clicked in my head that all I wanted to say to her was yes.

My today is about to become my tomorrow. Time to move on? Impossible right now, the thought of it makes me feel like I’m standing on a diving board above an empty pool. When you tell yourself you’re done, you’re done. Aren’t you?

I shouldn’t miss you, I can’t help it, I just…

@TheSamMcLeod