I had moved to London, leaving behind university and an unfinished degree. I was determined to tell a new story about my life. No longer the nerdy engineer or weird brass band musician, I was going to be a glamourous, sexy dancer. Working for a big 4 accountants in the heart of the city, I was clearly a big deal. And that’s where I met him. Let’s call him Taylor. He was cute; dark soulful eyes, rocking a neat goatee beard before beards were in. Sharply dressed, he wore a waistcoat to work and surfer uniform when off duty. He was ticking all the late 90s boxes for hot. And then there was the accent. For a girl dreaming of getting away from her past, knowing that it was possible to move to the other side of the world was intoxicating.
Being Australian meant “ordinary” had a different definition for Taylor. When an Australian is having a really crappy time, when you ask them how their day was they’ll say “pretty ordinary”. So the day I was clearly feeling too cute and he tried to cut me down with “you’re really ordinary”, it was supposed to sting. He went on to compare me to another girl he was seeing and the amazing things she was doing (sorry sweetie, who ever you were, I’m afraid the details of what he was so impressed with haven’t stuck with me) and the only thing interesting or notable about me was that I used to wear tiny tshirts.
Now I want to go and slap the 22 year old me up the side of the head. Why take that? Take your marvellous self and move on up. But I didn’t, I continued to hang around with him, I was convinced I loved him even though I knew him “cutting me down to size” was his thing. Taylor would make a point of telling me we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend despite seeing each other (outside of work) at least twice a week and wouldn’t hold my hand in public despite being willing to hold a lot more than that in private.
The joy on my face when I excitedly showed him the pointe shoes I had just bought was obviously too much too. He told me that I wouldn’t wear them because I was sure to flake out on dancing too. I occasionally thought of him a few years later as I danced both pairs into flimsy dust. Even in that moment, I knew he was wrong. I thought I loved him but I knew he didn’t understand me. I was so sure of my love of dancing I knew his opinions of me weren’t going to keep me small.
In the end we just fizzled out. I left London and he didn’t call for a few months when he knew I was going through a tough time. When he eventually did call, I’d met someone new and was no longer available for fun times. Telling him no was probably the boldest thing I had done in my life up to that point (other than move to London knowing no one!) And there ends the ballad of Taylor and Maxine. You don’t need to be trapped by the small dreams someone else will allow for you. You are worthy of dreaming bigger. And, honey, you are anything BUT ordinary.