The individual I could call my first boyfriend wasn’t a good boy. (I attempt to say this without referring to the term ‘bad boy’ and the grossly inaccurate assumption that all girls want one.) Even now he isn’t a good man. The world once treated him badly and in retaliation he treated it back the same way. You can’t do that without consequences, losing a home and any security you might have had. I didn’t expect him to live this long; there’s only so many drugs one body can tolerate, and from what I recall he was beautifully, enviously thin. There was a year’s gap between us, myself a year older and feeling I should’ve have more sense than I was allowing myself to have. I was seventeen and remained quiet and agreeable. That’s what I thought a girlfriend was. I decided at the time that must’ve been what I was. Rarely did I see him. His mouth tasted like the best kind of ashtray I could’ve licked.
Months, years, after parting from him the smell of his choice brand of cigarettes is none the less appealing. I can wander by strangers and be stopped in my step by that cancerous scent. What was I doing? Why does my heart hurt? I could recognise it on anybody and have done so. Even a bad smell like that one has something whimsical about it that triggers hardcore nostalgia. It’s a comforting scent from one of the only times in this life in which I’ve felt protected and wanted. It was ironic to feel safety in the arms of someone so dangerous, yet I did. Even now a part of me believes he wouldn’t have let me be hurt as I have been.
Today I was returning home on the train. This is how many of my stories start. I smelt the stank of fresh piss and, on Queensland Rail, that’s not unfamiliar. We live with it. The piss was easy to ignore. Someone however had been smoking the cigarettes. I took one whiff and knew without doubt. I figured it was the rather depressed looking woman hunched in her seat across from me who’d just sat down. I don’t tend to smell it on women, usually men. As the train pulled into the station I was lulled from memories of a traumatic Halloween parade (his face paint had smudged and his eyes turned red from smoking cones in the greenhouse but still he was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen) as the odour of piss walked to the door following a scruffy looking man with a pot belly who wasn’t wearing a shirt. It was the typical Australian drop-kick, a pouch of Rothmans gold poking out of his pants pocket. That’s when I knew that memory lane smell of those cigarettes was coming from him. And suddenly those delicate feelings of past love dissipated like smoke. The man left the train after scratching his greasy hair and it was like such powerful emotions had never been there in the first place. They were gone. In their wake I felt apathy.
I don’t feel anything now and therefore don’t know what I should be feeling. On one end I have lost the last good feelings to a an unhealthy relationship in my past, one that even now can cause me to retreat into myself when mentioned. However I know in full certainty that I have never loved a partner as I loved him. To lose that love makes the future seem bleak. Nothing will ever come close to him. Typical of a bastard like him to leave me like this. It makes me feel like it was his plan all along.
I’ve stopped guessing when he’ll die. One day I might tell you the story behind him too.