I jetted off with Tom to Costa Brava in Spain. From Wednesday to Sunday, we enjoyed sun, fun and poker, having won my ticket there at a media free roll event hosted by one of the world’s biggest online poker rooms.
Truth be told, there isn’t a huge amount to do in Costa Brava. It’s a bit of a chav land. Lots of Lads on Tour and Hen Parties. It’s tacky, but it means well. And it was just what the both of us needed; a place where there was no pressure. Where we could de-stress and just please ourselves. Evenings were spent playing poker and hobnobbing with the pro circuit, our days were spent walking, eating, lazing by the pool and taking long siestas.
Even thinking about it now, from the dark and gloom of London, it’s like a treasury of light opens up in my mind. I close my eyes and I can see our hotel room. The beds pressed together. The sun through the curtains. Tom asleep on the bed next to me. Watching his handsome face. Hearing his gentle snore. Seeing the gentle curve of his belly, the sprinkling of the black hairs on his chest. It made me want him all over again. Not for real, I guess. Not really. But there in the secrecy of our shared hotel room, I wished I could reach out and touch him. That I could lie in his arms.
Just being there made me think. It made me imagine if Tom and I travelled there together rather than just as friends. If, somehow, the stars had aligned to bring us together when we met. Would I be able to link my arm through his as we walked? Rest my head on one of his broad shoulders as we dozed on the plane? Spend the balmy Spanish night in his arms?
On the final night, as we lay side by side counting down the hours until our final party, I somehow found the courage to ask something which has been burning inside me, possibly for the 2.5 years since we met. I had to know if he ever thought about me, in the way I sometimes think about him.
“I don’t tend to go down the ‘what if’s’. It’s a moot point,” he replied. “So not really.”
It was brutal in its own way, although it was no more or less than what I expected. But at least I knew. I knew that, for whatever reason, he doesn’t think of me romantically. The song ‘Anything but Lonely’ began playing on a loop in my head.
If you’re not here to say,
How good I look each day,
I’ll have to find someone who will.
I knew that, in the wake of this wonderful, painful night, I had to live by those words. I knew that I couldn’t harbour any feelings for him. It’s not going to happen. Not now, not ever. No 3rd act revelation. No dramatic mind changes. No nothing. It’s not like I’ve spent months mooning for him, but in that room, watching him walk from bed to bathroom bare chested, I wanted him. I loved all his little flaws. His tummy. The spots on his back. The way his lips pout when he sleeps. All the little things that make Tom Tom. I rounded them up and stored them. Somewhere in my mind, in some deep, secret chamber, he sleeps there next to me. A Spanish breeze blowing through the window. The scent of our bare flesh next to each other. Relaxed. At peace. Together.
But then I wake up and feel my cheeks are wet with tears. The phantom of Tom is gone. All I have are the memories. The feeling of the strong arms around my waist as he hugged me close, told me everything would be alright and he was there for me. I love him as my friend. I told him I knew within minutes of meeting him how special he was, and how pleased I was that he had found happiness. But I can’t live with ghosts anymore. Ghosts of what were and what might be.
I feel that, although my feelings now swirl and undulate as past and present compress, I will get through this stronger and surer. I will know myself better. And I’ll know where I stand. These are all good things. Part of me is really glad that neither of us were tempted while out there. London is reality while those few days in Spain were like a wonderful, tumbling fantasy; a dream I had to wake up from.
But somewhere, the two of us, Tom and I, lie dreaming together in that hotel bedroom. In a place where we’re anything but together, but anything but lonely.