The perfect relationship? or a tragic mistake?
Climbing Mountains By Neil D Campbell
This tale begins the same way all great love stories do, in bed. It was 05:00, Thursday morning, a mere two weeks after the departure of my first true love. Her agoraphobia, so prominent in our first few years, had subsided; I like to think I had some part in that. Years of treading the eggshells had brought us to the point where her self-esteem had finally caught up with the rest of the world. She was ready to face the universe and the only thing stopping her was me. All I had to do was let her go for while. All I had to do was let her explore the exciting, and mundane world of sex and love, and she would have come back. If I had, I would probably be a family man now and this story would have ended before it had begun.
Needless to say I did not. My new love would cause me no such pain, and, I knew this after just three glorious days, and three sweat-filled nights. I had a plan. I collected the words in my mouth, braced myself, and with absolute confidence, I spoke. Leaning on the pillow, our eyes just close enough to focus, I told her my tale and finished with my sincere statement.
“If there is anything I cannot give you, anything you feel you need that I cannot offer, or anything that might later break us up later, tell me now and we can work it out.”
I spoke with absolute honesty, and to this day I believe that honesty is the only thing which makes any relationship work.
I had met Tanith on a night out. I had been dressed in my typical grungy attire; in comparison she looked resplendent in a shiny dress and knee length high-heeled boots. We exchanged numbers and I made a graceful exit, not ever planning to call her.
When we met for our first date we switched roles and I joked that we had come as each other. I had made the effort and gone all out. In my eyes I looked like Jim Morrison, although bohemian would probably have made for a more accurate descriptive. She, by contrast, had chucked on the clothes straight from her bedroom floor. Yet, despite this, she still looked amazing.
Tanith looked nervously at me for a while, and then she replied. “I like girls too.” she said.
My brain swung into gear the phrase 'let's try this again' burst into my mind and my heart lurched a little, but whilst I was trying to work out whether I could genuinely cope with the idea she added, “But I don't mind if you're involved.”
I tried to remain cool, but the idea was dashing around my head. I have always maintained an open mind and frankly I liked this idea. Two years, and a number of successful dinners for three later we met our first girlfriend. To stop things getting out of hand we had invented a self-imposed code of conduct. We would only ever do it together and we would only ever do it once with each girl. Our conquests ranged from the plain, to the genuinely stunning, and our code held true throughout. That was the case, up until we met Jennifer.
Jennifer was a true beauty, auburn hair, delicate pale skin, freckles and deep green eyes. The only person who could, and did doubt her beauty, was Jennifer herself. We'd picked her up via a friend of a friend. Our exploits at this stage were no secret, and Jennifer knew exactly what to expect when we invited her home one cold, October night. We explained our rules and opened a cheap bottle of white wine. My girlfriend had a penchant for glamour; she loved to dress and fuss over our guests and so she took the shy, redhead into the bathroom. After bouts of giggling, and what seemed like an eternity, they returned. The girl that had left the room was gone forever, and in her place now stood a femme fatale, straight from the rushes of a Russ Meyer flick. She seemed taller and somehow stronger. As morning dawned Jennifer did not seem to want to go. She asked about the rules, and wondered if we minded her just tagging along. She enjoyed our company and had nowhere better to be. I spoke to my partner in private and she liked the idea.
We kept it simple, when she was free, Jennifer would come and spend the odd weekend; from time to time we'd go out as a triple. Going out like that felt really weird and the looks from stranger just added to the twilight zone experience. Jennifer, was of course, free to see whoever she saw fit, and slowly but surely, she began to come home with us less. As her confidence increased, so did her popularity. Eventually she stopped coming back altogether, and three months from our first night together, we parted ways with our first girlfriend but we remained friends.
My relationship with Tanith is stronger than ever and seemed to not be bound by any limits. I feel it’s important to note at this point it never felt like a three-way relationship, nor did it seem
like I had two girlfriends, it was more like Tanith and I had a girlfriend.
I met Australian Sarah at a nightclub. As we chatted it dawned on me, she really was quite stunning and had a charming way. Tanith was at work at the time and I was to meet her later. I took the liberty of inviting Sarah along. I explained a little about our relationship and she seemed intrigued. I told her that quite obviously, I was inviting her along for a late night drink, and that I was assuming nothing more from the encounter. Secretly, I hoped the two would get along; I was becoming more attracted to this feisty girl. My luck was in! The two girls hit it off straight away, and within minutes of returning home, the three of us were in bed. By the morning none of us wanted her to leave.
We spent the next year together. Sarah moved into the flat with Tanith and I. We were inseparable and, at first, the relationship was perfect. Nobody was ever lonely. We slept together in all possible combinations, and we'd go out as a triple, or as any one of three couples We even went on holiday together. I booked us a week on the Greek Island, Santorini; we relaxed and argued like all young triples abroad. Strangely, though, throughout the course of the affair, I was always quite reluctant to mention our status to strangers. Men generally tended to react with envy, or more often, utter disbelief, though I did find women generally more understanding. After a few months, the honeymoon season switched into nuclear winter and the cracks in the relationship became vast chasms. All relationships have their good days and their bad days; quite simply when it was good it was great but when it was bad, it was pure horror.
I remember the day vividly when I realised I had two girlfriends. It certainly was not in the throes of early passion, when the three of us were joined on some equal level. Back then it would be more apt to say I was in a relationship with two girls. But slowly and certainly, the balance shifted. The girls drifted apart and left me as some weird anchor. I felt more like the United Nations than a boyfriend. They would each make impossible demands and nearly every night one of us would end up sleeping on the couch. It gradually dawned on me that two girlfriends meant two rounds of PMT and two sets of neurosis. There was no help either! I can still remember trying to form the sentence. “My two girlfriends are not getting along, what should I do?” It looks as ludicrous now in type as it sounded back then.
There were other quite ridiculous problems too. I can barely write this without worrying I am going to sound like egomaniac, but there is no other way to put it. I was knackered. When they drifted from each other. Instead of one unit, we became two, they each had needs, and each demanded satisfaction. I know how it sounds, but believe me, I was exhausted. If Sarah wanted sex, then Tanith demanded it longer, and so on. I could not keep up in the end, it was insane!
Towards the end, the inevitable happened and jealously crept in. The jealously of others came first. The town peacocks would whisper, point or repeatedly try to intervene. It got to a point where if either one of the girls were sat on their own for thirty seconds or more, some young pretender would be at their side offering their undying love and offers of salvation. Tanith and I were immune to this behaviour by now, but Sarah was a long way from home, and in a relationship sense, the youngest of the three. In time, the stories and gossip got to her, and her own jealously crept in.
I have never considered myself to be a handsome man. I was born with a cleft palate and a hare lip and was tortuously bullied at school. But I have learned that for some reason girls find me attractive and sometimes that is enough. I wonder a lot whether the memory is worth it? Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. Sarah proposed to me one night after the wild sex had subsided. She offered to take me to Australia and start a family, but only if I'd go alone with her.
Do I regret not going? Yes, sometimes. More importantly, I ask myself all the time, would I have been happier as the family man I mentioned previously? Yes, I am sure I would have been.
Sarah left us eventually and married soon after. I still think about her sometimes. The encounters still to come would drastically alter my opinions. The story does not end here, we met another girl, spent another year in chaos, but this time it would end spectacularly, five thousand miles away, with a documentary, a near death experience and even gangsters... but that's enough for now. I shall leave you, dear reader, with this thought: having two girlfriends is a lot like climbing a mountain. It is exciting and dangerous, hardly anyone has been there, and it's a challenge. However, when you get to the top it is absolutely freezing, incredibly high and the only way from there is down!