By the time we got to Sitges on Sunday I was beginning to worry about the beach and going topless. It soon became tiring. With the beach in Spain there’s always the added stress of having to go topless because everyone does it. I’m not very comfortable in my own skin at the best of times – here it would be really difficult. I tried to install some positivity in the experience by meditating on it, but that didn’t really work. There was no way around the fact that I’d have to take my top off in public and show everyone the weight I’d put on recently, and I’d have to spend at least half an hour every day applying the factor 50.
There used to be a real buzz about going to Sitges, but I guess it’s changed the past couple of years. There’s nothing especially interesting to do in Sitges except lie on the beach or drink non-alcoholic cocktails in one of the town’s many gay bars. A few years ago, when I had more oomph in me, I could always look forward to a good time there. But since I started gaining weight more easily (and since I stopped being interested in sex) it has lost some of its appeal. I was excited the day before flying out there last week for sure, but that hadn’t lasted. Now that I was there, the reality hit me of how much older I was, and how tired I’d gotten.
The thought of downloading Grindr to try and meet someone there didn’t cross my mind – a first for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very attractive men there this week, and I haven’t managed yet to completely turn off my sex drive. But the thought of the chase and the many potential disappointments that it can lead to had long since lost its appeal for me. I ended up talking to P about it again, which was pointless because he’ll never get it. He still spends half his time on Grindr, thinking he’ll find the needle in the haystack on there, even though years of using it has led to nothing for him as it did for me. There’s no point me telling him that I’ve given up hope on ever meeting someone real, because he’ll just smile and say “there’s always hope!” like a robot.
We’d decided to share a room in Sitges to save money, a decision I knew had been a mistake as soon as we got there. For the rest of the holiday I’d have to discuss all my plans for the day with him, agree what I’d be doing with him and what I wouldn’t. It immediately became much harder to keep my boundaries in place waking up in the same room as him every day. He clearly thought that he’d spent enough time on his own in Barcelona, as it was now twice as hard to get him to agree to do anything in Sitges by himself. Whatever I wanted to do, wherever I wanted to go, he wanted to go as well. He wouldn’t admit it, but he couldn’t bear to be on his own any more. When I suggested potentially making a day trip back to Barcelona (to alleviate some of the boredom of spending every day by the beach) he wanted to come too. When I changed my mind out of tiredness, he changed his mind too. After all these years of knowing him it still drives me insane!
I know when one is abroad with a friend they will expect you to do most things if not everything together. But P and I had already talked about this, he’d already agreed that I would have some space to myself this time because I would need it.
On Wednesday after an AA meeting I returned to the hotel in the evening, expecting to have the room to myself for a while, P having headed to the beach by himself earlier. I was really looking forward to the peace, having not had any since we got to Sitges. When I got to the room he was there, following a change of mind about the beach. He said he was exhausted, but I knew it was a lie. He just didn’t want to go off and do something by himself. So instead he had to stay in the room and wait for me. All I wanted was to be left alone!
I was the one who suggested sharing the room in Sitges, so it was my fault entirely. I couldn’t read my instincts at the time when we were booking the holiday, telling me to keep separate rooms for the entire week. By Wednesday, I was looking forward to coming home, when usually I dread it after a holiday.
It will be so easy to follow the same well trodden path next year and do the same holiday with P again. I don’t want to do that – I want to do something different. There are still so many places in the world I haven’t been, places P would never go. On Thursday as we made our way to the airport, I started dropping hints that I’d changed my mind about next year and thought I might do Miami instead, knowing P wouldn’t be interested in going all the way there. I tried to make it sound like I’d just come up with the idea, as opposed to sounding like I’d been thinking about it for months, because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. P didn’t seem able to accept it just then. “Well, next year’s a long way off, let’s think about it then.” I didn’t push it that day – it will come up again eventually.
If I don’t go to Sitges next year (and it’s looking likely I won’t) I may never go again. I’ve loved going there the last five years, but there comes a time when things have to change. My friendship with P is changing, I’m becoming more authentic in my life (much as I can resist it), and when it comes down to it, the gay beach holiday doesn’t do anything for me any more. P will swear blind that no one on that beach was judging my out of shape, sunburnt body this week, but I know they were, because I’ve judged others myself in the past. I can’t stand that judgement any more, it has no place in my life. Perhaps someone else could let it wash over them and just enjoy their relaxing time on the beach, but I can’t.