Scott De Buitléir is reminded of a road not taken … because there was a road-block.
Years later, I still had a soft spot for him.
He was only home for a week, and it was clear he’d made his life in England. University was going well for him, he had a good circle of friends and for the first time ever, I noticed just how happy he was with his life. If anything, his newfound happiness made him even more endearing.
I still remember being tipsy when I first approached him two years ago, possibly the only time I’ve ever tried to chat someone up. I started by complimenting his futuristic-looking watch, and I vaguely remember having a conversation in Irish before getting his number. We went on a few dates, and I brought him to a gay music festival, the first music festival I had ever been to. I remember him having his arms around me as we danced to Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Alexandra Burke, and spooning him that night in his car on a colder-than-usual August night.
Despite the good memories, he was detached while we were dating. I once teased him for having the emotional depth of a teaspoon, but in retrospect, that wasn’t too fair. We were never going to work out either way, because he was only back home for the summer holidays, before returning to London in September. Despite knowing that, I couldn’t help but fall for him a bit. He looked like James Dean, and had a similar air about him. The jacket, the drink in one hand and a cigarette in another, and that attitude of not really caring about much. I was just another victim of falling for the bad boy, but there were many worse than him.
This time, meeting up was different. He hugged me as if he’d missed me, which sounds stupid in my head, but he was warmer than I’d expected. He wasn’t as nonchalant, because the hardships that held him back two years ago were gone. He was just as funny, though, and just as attractive – in every sense. Still, I held onto his every word, letting him rant about his college work despite not having a clue what he was talking about (I’ve never understood maths!) before shyly filling him in on the last few months of my life. We shared a taxi home, and the hug goodbye was just as warm as when he met me in town. In my semi-drunken state, I texted him once I got into bed: Damn you living in London, that’s all I’ll say. I was surprised that after an hour or so, I got a similar complaint about me not wanting to leave Dublin. It was nice to know the feeling was mutual, albeit ill-fated.
The second time we met up that week, it was a date in all but name. During the cinema, I started to do the same things I used to when I first started dating as a teenager. I’d notice where my arm was nearest to his, where my hand was, and if there was a chance I would be holding his before the film finished. I hadn’t felt so nervous about making a move for years – I could’ve easily been all of seventeen again that night. Even as we sat down in a bar after the film, the body language was just right for either one of us to make a move. We were close – close enough that our arms brushed off one another more than once; close enough that our heads seemed to lean in to each other, as if one of us was about to rest his head on the other’s shoulder.
But nothing happened. No move was made and no dreamy looks were exchanged, despite it feeling like the perfect time to do so. Even when we decided to call it a night, I stalled for a moment before getting up off the sofa, in the last hope that he’d kiss me. He didn’t, and I wouldn’t have had the courage to kiss him in the taxi home. I resigned myself to believing that it was for the best that it didn’t happen, because it could’ve awoken feelings I had for him that I long ago put to rest.
By the time this little column goes out into cyberspace, he’ll have already returned to England, and I’ll be back to my own routine in Dublin’s fair city. I won’t deny that I enjoyed those few nice moments, but I guess it was always going to be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.