Memories of a stolen place.

There’s a generally accepted train of thought that as you get older, your life becomes a little bit more boring than it was when you were younger. Perhaps it does end up slightly less exciting, a touch more tedious and not as filled with as much adventure as it once was was. Fair or not?

How long do you give something that you have going on but you know doesn’t make you happy to continue? Someone or something that’s stopping you from doing all of the things that you want to in your life? Mae West was bang on the money when she said that ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough’. No one wants to get to a point in their life when you realise that there are a lot of things that you wish you could have done, zero point sitting around complaining about stuff when you’re the only person that can do something about it. It’s okay to feel fear, but once you know that you have to make yourself the priority, don’t you know that you might have a ton of fun once you look inward? If you are or have been unhappy in a recent relationship, shouldn’t you look after yourself first, just pursue your own wellbeing? Who wants to check with someone else before you do the things that’ll make you happier? Saying fuck it, I need to do me can be difficult but you’ll probably thank yourself for it later.

The Last Dance with Michael Jordan has been one of the better things to watch whilst we’re trying to occupy time right now. Isn’t it right that there’s usually at least one thing you remember from any book that you’ve read, any song that you’ve listened to, or any film or television show that you’ve watched? ‘To be successful, you have to be selfish or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate. Clever guy.

None of us are experts at life, it’s easy to become frustrated at whatever you have going on. No manual exists to help us decide what to do as we grow older. Mistakes will happen, we’re all selfish in our own way, but shouldn’t we all want to have as many joy filled days as possible? Isn’t it true though that you you can be selfless and selfish at the same time? What if a day comes when you realise that you can’t carry someone forever and you know that your own happiness is slipping away? It’s selfless to let them go but selfish for you just to to do you in a way.

If you find yourself doing something that makes you think of a lot of things that you liked when you were younger, then aren’t you cheating yourself? Maybe it’s time to start making a list of everything that you need or want to do, to help you find your very own moments of magic and wonder.

I’ve made a list of things to do and say.

Things interfere with your world, sometimes in the greatest way imaginable, but now and again in a way that you wish had never happened. Love, need, want. Two out of three isn’t bad, depending on who your musical favourites are. Zero out of three isn’t a good batting average, and whilst intentions were made clear at the start that none of those things were on the radar or available, if someone chooses to stick around anyway, sometimes it’s easier to just let them. Pretty selfish, but an absolute waste of hours, days, weeks, months and years. It’s never nice for a relationship to become Sylvester Stallone, especially if you knew that’s exactly where it was headed for from the very first second. Sure, it takes risks to make a mistake, but aren’t there mistakes in all of our lives every day? Turns out that nothing is ever simple and nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes it’s of your own doing. Time to cut ties, one thing down.

A random act of kindness in helping out an elderly lady needing advice during her week long stay in a strange city ends up coming with an incredible offer. She’s made her own bucket list for 2021 and it involves travel. The problem is that she needs someone to house sit for her in Grey Lynn, one of the most beautiful areas of Auckland. Who would say no and why wouldn’t you help someone who needs it? Selflessness wins out, looks like guidebooks to New Zealand will need purchasing. One more thing that’s on there, hope the Kiwi ladies are ready for a kilt.

Telling a girl that nothing will ever happen between us because we want different things, no point jumping into something new on a whim. She’s beautiful, ridiculously out of my league, but looks aren’t everything, selfishness and selflessness combine, best for both of us, we’d only hold each other back. It’s okay to be honest with yourself. Three down, but plenty to go.

Snorkelling in Blue Pearl Bay once more, skydiving, getting lost in Venice, this time alone, visiting every one of my friends that live overseas, be prepared for a surprise.

When you feel like life is passing you by and there’s pressure everywhere around you to be at a certain level and place in your life, shouldn’t you be the only person to be the judge of when that is? Isn’t it boring to stay in the same spot, to have to grow up. Better to grow? If somebody’s boring you, chances are that it’s probably you. Time to mix it up, to discover some things or somewhere that’ll make you happy.

The destination, the place to get to?

The boy I used to know.

@TheSamMcLeod

Three makes it a crowd.

When a girl breaks your heart, your friends are quick to tell you things along the lines of, “she wasn’t right for you anyway, there’s plenty more fish in the sea, the girl meant for you will come along, we saw the photos of you two together and she didn’t look like a ‘Sam’ girl.’ Fuck knows what that last part even means, but the rest are all cliches that we’ve probably heard at one point or another, but you know that they come from a good place, even if you don’t want to hear them in that moment. It takes time though to find that trust again, to let someone in, to want to even let someone in, to try and learn who to place your trust in.

Maybe it’s like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but maybe you can’t fix it with the person that smashed it. There’ll still be cracks, won’t there?

It’s tough to try and move on though, everyone is unique, it takes time. How long it takes differs for all of us, depending on our circumstances. Perhaps the more that you begin to care about someone new, the more sure you are that they’re going to get tired of you and disappear and leave you alone. Just your own insecurities about what went before, right? It’s 100% not fair on the new person that comes along but it can be tough to alter your mindset. What if one day everything changes though and someone new enters your life?

We all know immediately when we meet someone whether or not we’re punching above our weight. It’s a shallow concept, but it crosses our mind, dare to tell me I’m wrong. If more than one person likes the girl that you think you might like, shit, that you know you like, one of you is the underdog. Sometimes you know what’s in your future and what’s not. What’s likely and what’s unlikely.

Conversations happen, she smiles with her eyes when we speak, is there a chance for me, despite everyone else that’s fighting for her affection? It’s looking good, but is someone out of their league here? For sure. Things progress, the conversation is on point. We kiss, the night is spent together, it’s completely innocent, nothing wrong with cuddles and kisses when you’ve been starved of them both for so long.

I don’t know too much about her, other than she’s beautiful, she’s funny and she makes me smile. She’s not my usual type, yet incredibly, it looks like I’m not the underdog any more. Insecurity creeps in again though.

I bet, I bet we don’t make it.

The morning comes and she has to go home. She doesn’t stay in the same city, far less the same country, but an open invite is extended to visit her at any time. An email drops into my inbox on a Friday morning a couple of weeks later, ‘Come visit on Saturday if you can, a friend is having a party, it would be amazing to see you. Let me know when your flight lands if you decide to come, I’ll pick you up, it’ll be fun, assuming that you want to see me?’ The email insinuates a slight tease, she knows that I do. Tomorrow is short notice, but fuck it, why not?

A flight is booked, a couple of hours on a plane to take a chance on someone is no time at all. Better to arrive on the Friday though, get my bearings, although I lived and worked where she lives years ago, sometimes it’s just nice to have a little bit of time to yourself. The Saturday venue is familiar so I know where I’m going, but I use the Friday night to catch up in the same place with an old friend, drink some bourbon and reminisce. We both know the bar well, drinks are ordered and as is usually the case with my friends and I, a table is chosen in the back where you can see everything, always backs to the wall. No one wants to be taken out by a sniper!

The stories flow, memories are spoken about and laughter happens a lot. We’ve been friends forever, we grew up together so it’s a seamless catch up. I get up to go to the bathroom, come back and he points out a cute girl at the bar who he likes the look of. Guess who? I tell him who she is and he’s immediately apologetic. No biggie, she’s a stunner and he knows that she’s why I’m even here. Just as I stand back up to walk over to say hello, a guy walks in, hugs her and gives her the longest kiss that I’ve ever seen. Plot twist.

Neither of them can see us, thank fuck for small mercies. My friend and I look at each other and we both shrug, but inside I’m hurting a tiny bit. If something looks too good to be true, chances are that it probably is. I don’t go to the bar for a while, no way am I getting involved in whatever they have going on. Looks like my Saturday night will be free to do whatever I want to do, there’s no fucking chance I’m going to any party.

More bourbon is consumed, I get the piss taken out of me for trying to punch above my weight. I smile because he’s right, what was I thinking? Eventually they finally leave together with their arms wrapped around each other.

It’s my round. At the bar, I speak to the girl serving me and ask who the couple were who just left as I thought I recognised them. Seems they’ve been engaged for years and are set to get married in the autumn. It turns out I was a bigger underdog than I thought. It’s such a shame, a shame, we had to find out this way.

Fuck it, my flight is changed, my Saturday night will be spent with people I know who aren’t messing me around. Might as well get turbo though in the meantime with one of my oldest friends. Unbelievably, less than an hour later, my iPhone pings and it’s a text asking if I’m coming tomorrow?

Thing is, I know something you don’t.

I start to type a text a couple of dozen times and each one gets deleted. Finally I settle on, ‘I’m in the city already, I was in the same bar as you tonight. Good luck with everything for your wedding, we all deserve to be happy. All of us.’ The reply comes, ‘It was a mistake, I’m sorry.’ The thing is, it feels like the mistake is mine, for trusting you. Six words is all I get?

It’s one thing to make a mistake accidentally; it’s something completely different to make it on purpose. We all know what happens when you let yourself get close to someone, when you start to believe they like you, but you know that there’s a chance that you’ll be disappointed. Just choices, right?

We drain the bottle, handshakes and hugs follow and I head for bed, sleep and reflection is needed before heading back a day before I should be. The message I’m left with as my head hits the pillow is to be careful with who I let in, because I could have been the one that has messed everything up in the end for them, despite what she did. It’s not a nice feeling but how was I to know?

I’m down, down, but definitely not out.

@TheSamMcLeod