“It’s not you, per se, it’s the fact that you’re a fucking capitalist; you have a job, pay taxes and just contribute way too much to a bullshit society, man. And all property is theft, yeah, and–”
At this point I drifted off from my boyfriend-of-over-a-year’s break up speech. Don’t get me wrong; I was devastated -– completely heartbroken, of course -– I just didn’t really see how David Cameron was relevant at that point.
Besides, if there’s one thing to make you realize your last vestige of dignity, it’s watching a grown man in a panda onesie (not so much chosen especially for the occasion; more daily wardrobe) tell you don’t deserve his love anymore because you’re not a freegan. It was the most political dumping I’d ever had.
Still, it wasn’t supposed to end that way; we’d gotten married, after all. Sure it was in an inflatable church at a festival, with a karaoke-singing priest presiding, but I hadn’t eaten that Haribo ring straight away and that meant something, to me.
“And you’re working three jobs at the moment, so you’re always tired and don’t have enough time for me. So yeah. I think we should break up. Can you drop me back in town?”
I sniffed and wiped my face. “Can’t you just get the train back in? I’m not really–” I gestured at the mascara tracking my cheeks. “It’s a 40-minute round trip for me, too.”
“No, ‘cause that’ll cost me, like, three quid. Come on, it won’t take you that long.”
As we drove back, I speculated on what had just ended. We were supposed to move in together; he moved into a squat instead.
But to quote pretty much any Rom Com with a voice over, it didn’t start that way.
It was your classic story of boy meets girl, then a few years later, boy decides he actually quite fancies girl, would like to date her and spends the next three months gradually wearing girl down with confident assurances that one day they will be together.
All right so maybe it wasn’t a classic, but ah! It was magical. There were no politics then. In fact, he was as hearty a capitalist as I was (maybe more so; his jeans were more expensive). He was an art student who promptly forgot all about the first class degree he was on track for –- settling in the end for a 2.2 with me writing his dissertation just to ensure he managed to graduate at all –- becoming all-consumed with me and our relationship, swept up as he was in the heady passion of it all.
It was intoxicating at first and intense (which, if you dress it up properly, can work as an excellent synonym for suffocating and exhausting); I’d never known someone to “love” me quite like that, becoming insanely jealous of anything that took me away from him, even for a moment –- flying into jealous rages, as he would, over everything from a night out with girlfriends to my postgrad work.
Once, he threw my phone at a wall because he was sick of hearing texts coming through. Lucky for him, it was the cheap stand-in I had from when I dropped my phone in a glass of water and I had a smartphone arriving the next day, or we would have had more serious words.
A month in, he told me he loved me more than he’d ever loved anyone. Four months and he asked me to move in. After two more months of putting him off, protesting I wasn’t ready, while he sulked and told me I didn’t love him enough, pouting whenever the conversation came up, I finally gave in and agreed.
Another month and he wanted to go on a break. After a week apart, he told me he wanted me back, only to tell me later that night he wasn’t sure after all. A disbelieving call to my mum later and he walked back in and said he’d made a mistake: He did want me. We were tentatively happy again.
Our friends were alternately mystified, horrified and confused by the union; some were happy, a few awkwardly told me to stay away while we were together: they didn’t like him and he rarely left my side. One had the good grace to tell me he didn’t love me, but rather the idea of me. Most warned it wouldn’t last. And of course, they were right.
First there came the news of the government education budget cuts and the ensuing student protests, for which we were front and centre. I lost him in the crowd, hanging back and hunting around for my notebook to record the day while a man with his face badly burned wept near me, someone on hand gently dabbing his wounds.
Then all of a sudden, with a great surge of the crowd, he came hurtling back toward me, grabbing my hand with a grin and sprinting toward the gate to escape the police kettle. It was exciting and exhilarating, not to mention something we both believed in. Afterward, we went for cocktails.
Next, it was the news that the local grocery was going to be taken over by a chain supermarket; he joined the protest by squatting in the building. When they were eventually turfed out, he told me he was moving in with some of the people he’d met there into another squat.
“I thought we were going to move in together,” I said.
“Move into the squat!” he responded.
That wasn’t going to happen.
Soon, a new tension worked its way into our relationships. The insane jealousy was replaced with lectures on my “corrupt lifestyle” and “mindless adherence to the money-grabbing greed of the capitalist society.” Steady on! I thought to myself, that might have been a little strong. After all, I’m a writer –- my dad still refers to me as a piss artist; for the most part, I was (and still am) using any hard-earned cash pay off my student loan.
To be fair, the lectures may have been easier to swallow had he not been returning to his parents whenever the dumpsters outside Tesco ran a little low in freegan-able goods.
What it really came down to was that he’d found his new cause. There just wasn’t room for me anymore.
I dropped him back at his parents’ house.
“I guess you’re going to need a new emergency contact if you get arrested again,” I told him.
He shrugged. “Yeah, I’ll probably just call my mum.”
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