I have been with my partner Jason for twenty years. We officially started a relationship on 22 September 1995, and we aim to be legally married on that date this year, no matter what happens!
I have read a lot about relationships and Bipolar over the years, most of which has been negative. From the articles I have read, long term happiness with the same person is difficult at best. impossible at most. Bipolar offers many challenges that conventional couples do not face, but I am not abnormal and the difficulties are not insurmountable.
Jason is Australian and when we met in 1995, there was no mechanism in law, to recognise our 'de-facto' relationship. A gay relationship officially did not happen. I never expected to fall in love with my partner straight away, but that is more or less how it happened. We were determined at that point to stay together, no matter what the circumstances, and that is where our difficulties started.
Jason was on a Holiday Work Visa. This gave him limited time in The UK, with limited work allowed. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even like Jason at the beginning. I found him arrogant and typically Australian. Certain things happened, which resulted in Jason moving in with myself and my previous partner. He had nowhere else to go. One thing led to another and we fell for each other.
It was the night before the reopening of The Magnum. the oldest Gay Club in Southampton, indeed the oldest in the country. It was also my partners Birthday. At the time we were quite heavily involved in a drugs lifestyle and two friends came over and gave us a few free lines, big lines. To be honest, I can't even remember what the stuff was, but it knocked us for six.
My ex partner went to bed, and myself and Jason stayed up talking. We wanted to be together, but felt it would be impossible in such a close, small gay scene and decided to leave. Now drugs always change ones perception of situations. In this case it made the urgency, we left critical, so we did.
I was completely off my face, rooting around for my passport and couldn't find it. So, as you do, if you are about to leave your boyfriend, I went and asked my sleeping ex partner, where it was. He pointed to a chest of draws in the bedroom, where I found it. I have no idea if he knew what I was doing or not. I literally left with the clothes on my back, and we caught the first train out of Southampton and headed for London.
The next few days were extremely confusing, since I was on drugs. I remember going to Australia House and arranging a Visa. I remember buying a ticket at the Airport to fly both of us to Australia. I remember the funny bits too. We arrived in London with no accommodation. We took the tube to Kensington. Both Jason and I were big 'Absolutely Fabulous' fans and since we were still off it, we thought that had to be the place to go. We ended up in Bayswater. Cheaper than Kensington, far cheaper, but full of vibrancy and life.
Finally we found a Hotel. One of those huge imposing Georgian buildings. Looked fantastic from the outside. Going inside, it wasn't quite as it seemed. Patterned flowered carpets, even busier wallpaper and a musty smell. There was an old lady at a reception window, doing knitting. It was like the old 1950s movies I used to watch, you know the sought, Margaret Rutherford and the like. We took a room which was near to the top of the building. My god, I remember that room, better than most memories I have from that time! Same swirly carpets. A number of beds, pushed together. Candlewick bedspreads! I love candle wick bedspreads, I used to pick the curved lines of tufty cotton as a kid, leaving a trail of material around my bedroom. It was kind of comforting, and yes I was picking those bedspreads as soon as I arrived in that room. There was no bath . In fact there was no bathroom, just a plastic shower in the middle of the room. Pealing wallpaper. Numerous hand written notices about, when there was hot water, what times the front door would be locked, amount of towels that we could use and nothing about what to do in the event of a fire. These days, the place would have been condemned, but I loved it, we both did. After all it is where we really began our relationship!
It was great spending those first four days in London. It was the early 90s, we had no mobile phone or internet, so there was no way anyone could contact us. It really was a great sense of freedom. Walking around the streets of Kensington and Bayswater in the evening was bliss, so different from Southampton. Colourful, cosmopolitan, interesting, twenty-four hours a day!
After a brief stay in a single room in a London Suburb, with all the paperwork sorted, we left for Australia, flying British Airways to Perth. I was still really unaware about the magnitude of this decision, but would realise over the next twenty years. This was the day my life, as messy as it is, began. This was the day we started to battle to stay together, this was the day I truly put my heart before my head, and never regretted a thing!