The Year We Grew Up – Chapter One.

Leaving Home.

I needed to put some space between myself and living at home with my parents. There were two reasons, two secrets, the one all my friends shared and the other that no one knew except me, the one it was impossible to tell anyone. I don’t know how many different places I visited, they were either too far from any transport or had something else wrong. I was getting totally fed up when I happened on the perfect apartment, well perfect is maybe a little exagerated, but after all that looking, lets just say it was OK.

The two bedroom apartment was over a newsagents, the landlord was the shopkeeper and he shut up shop at 6 o’clock each evening. Looking around, this was a small parade of just three shops, one of those just served as a sort of office for the builders yard at the back. The landlord agreed to three guys sharing, I told him I worked on a management training scheme for a large company, I lied. It was partly true, I even had my last pay slips to show him, what I didn’t tell him was that it was so excrutiatingly boring I’d chucked it in. Anyway, he was satisfied, the rent was just about affordable, now all I needed was the other two names for the rent book.

I’d talked about this with my group of old school friends, we were all the same age, more or less, all apparently keen to move out of home. Of course when it came to the crunch there are some friends you just should never rely on and Steve backed out, which really pissed me off, because he was threatening my whole plans. Josh was good to go and I figured out if we shared one bedroom then I could offer Mark or Aaron a room on their own. One or the other was bound to go for that. I know the rent was high even split three ways, but, you know, you have to make sacrifices to get what you want in this world.

Josh was good to his word and agreed to move in and didn’t mind sharing a bedroom. Mark couldn’t make his mind up and that complicated things, because I needed a definite ‘yes’ so as to sign the contract with the landlord. I thought maybe I should have asked Aaron instead and I wouldn’t be waiting on Mark. Really I don’t know why I hadn’t done that, maybe I felt a little nervous about sharing with Aaron. Why? It’s telling a secret, but I have always been kind of attracted to him. He is pretty good looking and well I like guys. That’s right I’m gay, but I’ve never told a soul, nobody, none of my friends from school know. I keep thinking about it, that is ‘coming out’ of the closet, but I can’t do it. It’s not just how my friends might react, no worse is my father, what he would say, he’d probably kick me out of the house if I was still living there.

So you can see why I really needed to leave home, but the only way is to share, it’s just not affordable on your own. Eventually I decided I couldn’t wait on Mark any longer and I went to see Aaron. I thought it was better to ask him face to face because I desperately needed a third person and to know they were committed.

Aaron lived in a tower block on a council estate which if not exactly a rough area, it was close to getting that way. I’d called him before I showed up, so when I rang his apartment he buzzed me in. That was the only security there was in his place, but it didn’t really work very well because anyone would just let you in. At least, I suppose, it prevented the drug dealers from using the lobby like they did on other estates. It had an air of abandon about the place, with stupid graffiti scratched on the metal door of the lift, which always spelled of urine.

The lift door opened on the 15th floor and as I stepped out Aaron was standing at his front door smiling. “So to what do I owe this pleasure,” he said opening fully the door to let me in.

“Cut it out,” I replied. “This is serious business.”

“Oh sorry,” he feigned concern. “In that case you had better come into my office.”

We went into his bedroom which was pretty small, a single bed along one wall, a desk and chair at the far end where there was a large metal framed window. I suppose you could say it was a room with a view, but even from the 15th floor it just looked out across a bit of open space to another identical tower block in front.

“Sit down Mikey,” he said jesturing for me to join him on the bed. There really wasn’t anywhere else to sit and even then I had to move some of the clothes he’d left piled up, he was never the tidiest of people. “Well tell me what’s up then.” Like always straight to the point.

I looked at him thinking about how to ask so he wouldn’t say no, because if I had to wait on Mark, well the whole thing could fall through, then I just hit him with it. “Aaron I need you to say yes to moving into an apartment I’ve found. It’s all set, Josh is a definite ‘yes’ and I need a third person.” I knew he was thinking about it so before he could reply I carried on. “You get your own room and me and Josh share the other bedroom.” He was still silent, I couldn’t decide if he was up for it or if he was thinking how to say no nicely.

“It’s a bigger room than you’ve got now.” I wasn’t too sure that it was all that much bigger, but I needed to convince him. “And the rent’s affordable.” I guess that depends on how you define ‘affordable’, but anyway that was my last piece of ammo. I learned back against the wall, trying to be relaxed, but I wasn’t. One, because when I’m sitting next to Aaron I get concerned he might notice just how much I like him and, two, well that’s obvious, I desperately needed a ‘yes’ from him.

“I thought you had Steve and Mark to move in?” He replied.

“Well you know how reliable Steve is. I don’t think he was ever gonna go through with leaving home. He backed out.”

“And Mark?” He asked.

“Mark can’t make his fucking mind up.” I guess I was showing my frustration now.

“So let me get this straight,” he was smirking now. “I’m your last choice.”

I was embarrassed, because he was right. I should have asked him before. ” You’re right Aaron. I should have asked you before the others, but I have been trying so hard to get this together. I’ve been doing everything myself, alone. That’s not an excuse, I’m sorry I didn’t ask you before, really. I didn’t think, but I really need you to say ‘yes’, but only if it’s definite for you.” I was starting to get a bit emotional, all the pressure of the last few weeks, all the pressure of the last few years, I was close to crying and trying hard to hold it in. The last thing I wanted was to blubber in front of Aaron, in his bedroom, sitting next to him on his bed, it might all come out.

I think he was playing me and getting his own back, but I also think he was sensitive to how I was feeling. No I don’t just think it, I know it. He put his arm over my shoulder and squeezed me. “It’s a definite yes,” he said.

next – the boys move in…

The Year We Grew Up – Chapter Two – Moving In