This was supposed to be a dating column, and it drifted. I’d like to think it evolved somehow, turned into a column about relationships in general from the perspective of a small-town boy living the dream in the big city. As much fun as I had writing freak of the week on my dating adventures around London, I don’t think the format would have lasted much longer. I realise now it was a springboard of sorts into much more interesting work. The amount of private Twitter messages alone I received after the column detailing my body issues makes me proud of what I’m doing.
I’m not going to pretend like I had this all planned out though. My life has been nothing but taking the long way around every step of the way, and it has made for a scenic experience I wouldn’t change for anything. I wholeheartedly admit I stumble along sometimes, ready for life to surprise me beautifully. You think you know it all, you walk down some steps to a bar to meet your latest victim, sassy as can be in your desire to not take this thing so seriously, and by the time you look your date in the eye you’ve lost your breath to the ether.
Three beautiful months later, here I am. Here we are. I coyly hinted at it a couple of columns ago and it raised some questions.
“Boyfriend? Did I miss a week of Hello Neverland somewhere?”
The truth is, it could have made for a very interesting story. But how can I live and grow in this relationship by detailing every minutia of it to an audience? It made me think about the responsibility I have when writing about other people. It was fun dissing Mr. No Show who I’d never see again, but what happens when the person you write about is someone close to you? What honesty is there if every time we have a moment, all my brain is thinking is “this is going to make an excellent column next week”?
I remember watching a documentary called Tarnation, by a film-maker called Jonathan Caouette. Adored by indie film festivals, it was created entirely on his Macbook and detailed the fraught history Caouette has with his mentally ill mother. The angle being you could make a film on your laptop, and you know, relationships and family…blah blah blah. What fascinated me about the story was a moment at the start of the film, where the hospital is calling to tell him that his mother has been admitted into hospital. He is staring right into a camera his boyfriend is holding up and crying while on the phone.
I was horrified. I wondered how many takes had been shot, of this seemingly raw and emotional moment. All art is about holding a mirror up to yourself, being honest and giving a little piece of your life to an audience. But really, in the moment? How affected are you truly, if the first thing you think of when your mother is being admitted into hospital is “excellent, let me just get my camera ready”.
Interestingly, Jonathan Cauoette’s creative output seems to have been stumped since. There’s only so long you can sell your family out for.
Or is there? I think the most interesting part of Kim Kardashian’s career is her sex tape. Ray J is doing his absolute best to be a panting, pneumatic stud, and the poor man doesn’t even realise he’s being set up. There she lays, at her best angle, asking him in the most unfeeling of tones to keep going, while she pouts seductively at the camera. Seven seasons of a reality show and several million dollars later, the Kardashians cannot do a thing without a camera present.
We have a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones. In a world where everyone is willing to share every aspect of their lives on social media, where “secret shame” is a magazine headline, where everyone and their mother seems to have written a “Difficult Lives” book, a little privacy is a very precious thing.
We tell each other stories, that’s what we do. We talk about ourselves constantly. A conversation is simply an exchange of each other’s lives, taking turns to pause and listen so we can then talk about ourselves again. I don’t think this column would be half as much fun or get as much of a reaction if I didn’t write about the people in my life. There are broad strokes I am looking forward to writing about, especially the travelling we will be doing together.
The rest is for me, for him, and for us. If it’s ins and outs you want, I’m pretty sure there’s a Kardashian tape out there for you.