Evening my dear Minx lovers and welcome to another blog.
I was having an evening out with a friend last night and I invited her to my part of town to grab some food. Afterwards, while we were wandering back to her car, she paused, giggled and said “I think I used to fuck someone around here. Haven’t been back for years!”
This got my thinking about the geography of dating. During a relationship, a couple not only shares time, but you also share spaces, and places together. The first place you met, the first place you went on a date, your local bar or pub or cafe, your first place together…the list just goes on and on.
If things go sour, you can be left with the difficult issue of how to deal with the shared places and spaces. Splitting up the contents of a home, and returning possessions might be painful, but is at least possible. How do you equally divide up a favourite restaurant, a park, a beach, or even a neighbourhood?
Going back a few years, Uni turf was complicated. It was a lot harder to avoid someone if you lived in the same halls, the same neighbourhood, caught the same bus into town, or in the worst situation, were on the same course. Cities may be big places, but the realities of day to day studying and cheap drinks in local bars or the union would keep throwing you together. If you were inclined to experiment 😉 then you ran the risk of not only bumping into one ex, but exes, flings, fuck buddies, and some guy you kind of remember kissing in some dodgy back bar, not just once, but OVER and OVER again. This gets really awkward if you can’t remember their names (which is made so much worse by the obvious “Heeeeeey……..YOU!”)
About 7 years ago I moved to live with someone in Gloucester. The town was his. We spent the weekends with his parents in another town a few hours away. Everything was based on making a life around his house, his job etc, which is part of the reason it didn’t work out. I moved out, and to this day, in my mind, Gloucester remains HIS turf, and I was more than happy to concede.
More recently, a few years I was dating someone I met through work. I was commuting 25 miles a day, and we started hanging out while I was getting to know the town, and avoiding traffic and my boring empty flat. In this case, when we broke up, I was still working there, and actually loved the town and the beach. I kept visiting most weekends for another 18 months, and to this day consider the place to be under joint custody. Fuck giving up Joe’s, best ice cream ever. 🙂
However, I have also experienced some pretty savage issues to do with turf wars. One relationship mostly took place around my home town, not far from Cardiff, where my parents still live. The guy in question used to live in another town close to Cardiff, where some friends have now moved. This was one of those relationships that cut deep, and left some serious emotional scars. It means means that every time I pass these places, I flinch, and unfortunately, it’s not somewhere I can avoid.
In another situation, I was involved in a very intense relationship whilst working and living in Cardiff. This took place mostly in places where we could have as much peace and privacy as possible, but I worked in town, and unfortunately so did he. I was in pieces when it ended, to the point I took a job 50 miles away to get away from the pain, and all of the places that reminded me of him. He used to work in the city centre late at night, and it took a long time before I was ready to come back and reclaim the city as my own. I know think of it as my turf, and I’m fucked if I’m letting a broken heart run me out again.
So what have I learned from my own experiences of Relationship Geography?
First of all, don’t shit where you eat! Be aware of issues of turf and territory, especially if you have to share it with someone. This rule is very applicable at work, but can easily be applied in Uni, or if you live in a small town or shared neighbourhood with someone.
If you split up with someone, remember that you used to share places as much as pepperoni pizza. Be prepared to have some awkward moments if you still visit the same places. You might even want to have that conversation, just to clarify things “So, I’m still living here, and I still go to these places, just as a head’s up.”
Thirdly, accept that for the moment, and possibly for a while in the future, certain places are going to hold certain feelings and memories. You might want to avoid them for a while. You might want to find new places. However, you still take YOU with you, so running away won’t solve anything.
Whether bittersweet, painful, or just plain embarrassing, one day, you’ll be walking along that street again, and the memory will hit you out of the blue. Hopefully, with enough time, it’ll just make you smile at yourself, shrug, and be ready to make some new memories in that place.
Today, I went back to a bar I haven’t visited since before I scarpered out of town. It looked exactly the same. I chose a different table, made a new memory, and reclaimed a tiny patch of turf. Winner winner. 🙂