ALL / Dating / Fire Safety

Burnt Out

Bowie and I were an item for the better part of a year and were a highly combustible duo for a variety of reasons.  By day, we worked at Investment Banks in London, which is to say we both had type-A tendencies, incredible impatience, and risk-adoring personalities.  By night, we were shambolic hipsters who dutifully attended rock gigs, and after parties, and the after-afters.  The biggest reason that we were so explosive was probably just because we were just very, very young. How young?

Well, when I accepted our first non-date, I thought we were both mid-20s.  I still remember that after work evening when Bowie downed 5 G&Ts to my 2 and I chalked it up to him being an Englishman, rather than a kid who liked to booze.  But then came the great reveal as we exchanged typical first date stories – I had just finished graduate school in New York and moved to London.  Bowie had worked as a trader for a smaller prop shop after school, but was glad to be at a larger firm now.  He had a younger sister who was 17.  I had a younger sister who was 22.  Then I asked, “How old are you?” To which Bowie replied, “Twenty.”  So I said, “Twenty-what?  I’m Twenty-four.”  And he said… “No, just twenty.”  Oh.

My senior year in college I won Most Likely to Rob the Cradle, which I suppose was great foreshadowing for this relationship.  Despite the age difference, we began dating seriously almost immediately.

Now for the fun part: we had some really phenomenal blow-ups.  Mostly they were blame game arguments over whose fault it was that we missed our flight to Athens, were late to work (again), missed the first concert at Reading festival, broke a cell phone, arrived late to his father’s birthday roast, lost our tickets to the Pete Doherty show, lost the keys to the flat, broke the hotel lock, lost the security deposit. Etc.

By August, we were both burned out.  At Heathrow airport we kissed goodbye and I boarded a plane to the US of A with five enormous suitcases.  Thus, we extinguished the last live embers of our relationship.

Or so I thought.

I had a comparatively calm fall and early winter back in Chicago before I got the call from Bowie.  Turns out while I’d been enjoying solitary evenings of scented candles, bad novels, and red wine, Bowie had been dancing a drum circle around the bonfire that his life had become.  Sadly, he’d lost his job, lost his flat, broken up his band, and through unclear events, dug a financial hole deeper than the English Channel.  We discussed the predicament and came to this logical conclusion: Bowie should move to America.

The following week, Bowie arrived and O’Hare International Airport, wearing a vintage RAF (Royal Air Force) jacket, skinny jeans, and a giant scarf. He packed what little remained of his worldly possessions, which included a duffle bag of garb, a book of Keats poetry, and a guitar.  A word to the wise: when you travel on a one-way international ticket looking like a busker, you’re going to have a pretty extensive interview with immigration.  Bowie could tap dance his way out of a knife fight, so I was sure in his ability to sufficiently address some questions in the holding tank of ORD.

When Bowie emerged from the arrivals room, we were all sunshine and lollipops. So he moved in with me.

Our household schedule was simple.  All day long he wrote songs for his future band.  Then, I would come home from work to hear them and gush over his talent, while I cooked us dinner.  This was fun for a week, but then neither of us had much else to do or say. The constructs of our normal interaction – the banking scene, the music scene, a network of friends, and a web of family were all stripped away in this new location.  Relationship v2.0 began to melt under the scrutiny of the spotlight. I think we were both genuinely surprised that a decision based on guttural emotions and risk-taking tendencies did not result in delirious happiness.

Bowie booked a ticket back to London five weeks later  Upon departure, it was fitting that we played one last round of the blame game, just for old time’s sake.  We nearly missed his flight because we hadn’t timed the train correctly, went to the wrong terminal, lost the confirmation number, and had an argument with the agent about checking the guitar.  It was perfect end [to this chapter].

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