This is a series of posts (Time-Travel Thursday) which so far has looked only at the beginning of my time at university, between 2003 and 2004. After the events of last week’s entry I begun a relationship that would span the remainder of my time at university; it wasn’t an uneventful time, but it was particularly peaceful. I’ll write about sometime, just not today. I want to talk about the past, so you can understand a bit more about me today.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme: I’ve been hilariously unfortunate when it comes to girls. I’ve been fortunate too — heck, I still consider myself lucky to have been with all my girlfriends — but, inevitably, bad relationships end. I remember the good times fondly, of course, but it’s the bad times that really stick with you. The pain and emotional distress from a bad relationship and the ensuing break-up really bogs us down! Some people are still plagued by uncertainty, unknowingness and doubt from relationships that ended a decade ago. Bad relationships haunt us.

The relationship I’m going to tell you about still lingers hauntingly, affecting my decisions when it comes to other girls — potential girlfriends.

If you’ve ever experimented with blindfolds in the bedroom with a loved one you’ll know that the experience is intense. With our visual sense deprived, other senses kick into overdrive, competing and clamouring to be heard by the brain. Before you know it, you’re flinching and squirming and whimpering, unable to predict what will happen next. Your partner has you in the palm of their hand.

Ultimate gratification is a boon that only your partner can provide in such a situation. Or, alternatively, your partner could walk out of the room and leave you there on the bed, blindfolded, prone, alone, unable to act and defenceless.

A relationship itself is like being emotionally blindfolded. In a relationship, our remaining senses are heightened, our emotional empathy increases.  In exchange, our foresight disappears. Love is blind(ness)! Objectivity flies out of the window. The world you so gracefully inhabited beforehand slides into a blurred, grey background — out of sight, out of mind. It’s just you and your lover, spotlit, center stage. In my case, it was me and The American. She had me blindfolded, but it wasn’t so dark that I couldn’t make our her brilliantly bright form, picked out by the focused spot light of my love.

(Ironic, now that I think about it, that I put it into photographic terms. I’ve known her for 8 years, and I possess just 2 photos of her. And about a million mental images of her.)

In a relationship, our happiness is completely at the whim of our lover — the lover that has us chained down in a bed, emotionally blindfolded. You can’t force her to bestow upon you the heavenly, nirvana-like pleasures of love, intimacy and sex. It’s up to her. Where there isn’t an equality of control, where one person controls the entire flow of the relationship, where one partner holds the keys and forces you to jump through hoops to attain love, and thus happiness and satisfaction — these relationships are destined to fail.

If only I’d known that when I was 16.

If only I’d known, as I sat there on the bench, watching a beautiful blonde girl slowly wend her way through a throng of school friends towards me, that 8 years down the line, I’d still be nursing a fragmented heart.

She was short. Really short, perky and cute. It was a strong start, certainly. She’d finished traversing the crowd of kids and stood before me.

‘Hi!’ A ready smile, too. Good teeth. A grin that lit up her little face.

Unfortunately, she had an American accent.

‘Ah… you were doing so well, until you opened your mouth!’

The opening words of a relationship that, one form or another, would span almost a decade. Middle school, highschool and college.

I’ve told you before that I’m really mean to girls that I like, right? It’s probably a self-defence thing; a self-esteem thing. Pushing a girl away before she gets close enough to tease my heart-strings, and then inevitably dump me for a stronger, hairier and manlier man than I. Well, try as I might, this one wouldn’t be pushed. She sat down next to me and just continued to smile. I perservered. Continuing with low blows, sarcasm and a neverending, incessant pick-pick-picking of her American accent and mannerisms, I just couldn’t shake her off.

She loved it. She’d never experienced it before, being America — the dry, English wit; irony — or perhaps she just fancied the socks off me. I like to think it’s because she wanted my babies. Perhaps I was so funny that she wanted my babies?

She only stayed for the summer that time but she promised she’d be back. If she hadn’t come back, I would’ve gone to her anyway; 5000 miles was nothing for a couple of smitten, lovesick teenagers that craved each other’s company.

A year later and I’m in the process of finding a buyer for one of my kidneys when I receive an email from her: ‘I’m flying over in August. We need to talk.’

She refused to tell me about it over email.

In fact, she must’ve realised sometime between writing the email and the amazing 3 months we spent together that summer that her mother could talk to me instead.

And so it was that, one day, sitting outside eating lunch, her mother sat down beside me.

‘We need to talk, Sebastian.’

‘About what?’ I’d completely forgotten about the aforementioned ‘talk’ and I had a big grin on my face: I didn’t like her mother particularly, but it made sense to smile at your future mother-in-law, right?

‘This relationship of yours, between you and my daughter. It can’t continue.’

My heart skipped a beat. ‘Why…?’

‘She has a fiancé in America. Her childhood sweetheart. She’s marrying him this winter.’

To be continued…

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I am a tall, hairy, British writer who blogs about technology, photography, travel, and whatever else catches my eye.