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  • THE IN-BETWEENS IN THE LIFE OF HEDGEHOUSE

    by Beata Henrichs-Lieb June 07, 2017

    THE IN-BETWEENS IN THE LIFE OF HEDGEHOUSE

    2001

    This is around the time of 9/11 - August of 2001. I was experiencing my first real heartbreak. I knew it was coming, like the change of a season – I could just feel it all around me, in the air, but I couldn’t let go. It was hell. Anyone that has experienced it knows exactly what I’m talking about. So when it was finally over – like no-talking over - I was a god damned heap, and destroyed. Of course, it didn’t help that I lived a block away from him. He was a fashion photographer and his career was taking off. I was a stylist’s assistant and worked in a studio every day pinning lingerie onto long-legged Russian girls. I took the F train to work, and I had to walk by one of his billboards that took up the entire side of a building on Lafayette and Houston, every day. It was a dark time. But that’s not what I want to talk about - that’s just for context.

    Through that relationship, I met a guy who I became friendly with. We just clicked and formed a friendship effortlessly, the way children do. He was from London. Email was just kind of getting going, so we were able to stay in touch. I flew over there a couple times for visits, and he came to NYC once and stayed with me. We always had fun. So, when it ended with Andy, he was there. He became my “in-between”. An “in-between,” in case you don’t know, is a guy (or a girl) who you connect with (typically in a platonic way) to get you over the debilitating mind-bending heartbreak you hopefully only experience once or twice in your life. If you don’t fling yourself in front of a bus, that type of heartbreak is life-altering and a rite of passage. There’s a lot of knowledge on the other side of it, if you can get there. So the “in-betweens” are like Sherpas.

    His name was Fearless. He had another name, but we all called him Fearless. I never asked him why he called himself that; he was a DJ and I just figured that was why. I did think it was an odd choice, though, because he drank pints of Stella like water and also took a shitload of drugs. I thought he must have been afraid of something. But I also thought, “Well that’s what everyone in London does.” So ignored it for a while, went along for the ride. And what a ride it was – so fun. A thousand laughs. Now, don’t get me wrong, Fearless was not just fun. He was very successful and endlessly-talented. His taste in music, art, and film was impeccable. He wasn’t pretentious in the slightest, though; he didn’t need you to know how cool he was. He surrounded himself with interesting, unique people and the currency was talent, authenticity and legitimacy. Humor and generosity. He could’ve cared less about money. I saw him give away thousands of pounds to his less fortunate friends. He was a rare bird.

    Right before 9/11, I had made plans to move to London. While I was not in as much pain as I had been previously, I was still not quite right. I needed a change of scenery. So I hooked up a room with a girlfriend I knew from NYC who had a place in Marlyebone, right off Regents Park, in a broken down Deco Apartment Building. The doorman was a sneering drunk who I’m pretty sure was running hookers out of the porter’s room.

    The flat was a rundown three bedroom that belonged to an old music executive who, in his prime, had loved to party. He used it to host his wild parties in the 90’s and occasionally when I lived there people would pound on the door at two or three in the morning looking for Seymour.

    My flatmate, Kim, was trying to make movies with Agnes B and spent most days at her computer in her pajamas smoking cigarettes and talking on the phone. She was alright, though I could tell I sort of annoyed her. But we formed a union of sorts that worked until it didn’t. It was all very “Withnail and I.” There was a broken window in the living room, the carpets were dirty. We had a shitty TV and no money, lots of cigs, Lucozade, prawn-flavored crisps, and the occasional existential conversation that helped to kill a few hours. 

    I was always with Fearless. He lived in Dalston, where I spent all my time. We spent hours in London Fields lying on the grass looking up at the sky, hanging out in his studio in Graves End, or hitting up pubs at 5:00. “Fancy a pint B? Oh that’s right, you don’t drink, shame. Come on then mate, keep me company for just one.” Just one meant "Just one", or perhaps we would wind up in Manchester. You never knew. That was the fun.

    We never talked about love or relationships. We talked like children do. Things like what shit something or other was, or pranks we would like to orchestrate. Favorite records, movies, TV shows, favorite candies, or the amateur dog shows we were going to enter Samantha, his Westie, into. We bought matching gold crucifixes in Hatton Garden and felt like gangsters. I went to his gigs at Fabric with him and followed him and his cast of characters around London to all hours of the not-so-early morning. Dez, Bez, Scotti, and Mole. Each one worthy of a post - complete “nutters.”

    Fearless and I were never romantic. There was a moment when it was considered, but never spoken of or acted on, and then it just faded away. See, I didn’t need a boyfriend, I needed a friend, an “in-between”, and he had to be male. My girlfriends at that time could not help me. They wanted to tell me what an asshole Andy was, that he’d be sorry, he’d never find anyone like me, and that we would get back together. That’s what girls do and that’s great, but this was beyond that. It had nothing to do with Andy. He was just a symptom. A guy who I unwittingly let get too close who, in turn, ripped the scab off a part of my soul that had been covered for 28 years. After he dumped me, I believed that I didn’t matter. I felt invisible, and had zero self-worth. There was no anchor, no home to go back to. I was on my own and I was in free fall. The fear of abandonment I had managed to shove down for 24 years was sitting right there at the bottom, waiting for me and reminding me who was the boss. It scared the shit out of me, so I did what most people do when they are scared - I ran.

    I’m not sure when Fearless and I drifted apart. It was a combination of things. I was critical of his “drug abuse” and “alcoholism.” I, myself, was not taking drugs, nor did I drink at that time, but I would go along with him on his two-day benders and while they were unbelievably fun they began to wear on me. I became judgmental of him, which is the death of any connection with another human being. We all do it, but that kind of self-righteous judgement is lethal, and that ultimately is what separated us and I deeply regret that. Oddly enough, that type of judgment came back to bite me many years later - that's for another post.

    For his part, he seemed annoyed that I had shown an interest in one of his best mates, rightly so. And he felt me judging him for sure. And, well, I don’t know exactly what it was, but the halcyon days came to a close and I soon stopped seeing him altogether. I ran into him once outside his studio in Graves End and it was awkward. I wasn’t hurt by it at the time – I remember feeling justified in that way that one does when a friendship has run its course. He’s fucked up and I’m not. Eventually I got a call for a job in LA, moved back to the states, and I never saw or heard from Fearless again. I have not looked for him on Social Media or attempted to make a reconnection. Something inside me knows that that would be cheap and not worthy of him. To leave it is the play he would make.

    I never found out what Fearless was afraid of, or if even he was afraid of anything. Maybe he was actually just Fearless. Fearless to live his life the way he wanted, surrounded by endless irritations and talentless “twats”, “ponces”, and “wankers.” Fearless to get up and go, do his thing and not give a shit what anyone thought of him, including himself. But this I know for sure, Fearless was an angel who gave me hope when I had none, and asked for nothing in return - and he saved my life.

    HEDGEHOUSE'S ENGLAND PICKS:

    Arizona Cafe

    London Fields

    Columbia Road

    The Regent's Park

    Royal China

    Lucozade

    Agnès B.

    Central London Cafes

    Spotify | Playlist

     




    Beata Henrichs-Lieb
    Beata Henrichs-Lieb

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