I know fuck all about engineers actually. But an engineer did break my heart. Twice. Same engineer. Twice the heart breakage. From this I learnt that engineers are efficient.
I met Len Careburn (not his real name), when I was 24 through a a girl I worked with. He was studying some kind of engineering. From this I learnt that there are lots of kinds of engineering. I liked him instantly, and when I say ‘like’, I thought he was hot in a tall, dark, skinny, standoffish but vulnerable way. We went on a date to a crappy Italian restaurant in Newtown, had sex, somehow gave each other a nasty rash (true story), and next thing I knew we were an item.
Len liked to tell me that he wanted to be a hermit one day. And that he would like that day to be very soon. Engineers are very independent. I have no idea how I glossed over this in my mind, because I was convinced that we would get married and have babies together. There were good times, but I honestly can’t remember what form they took. We had nice breakfasts I think…
There were bad times, like when he crashed my car and then dumped me for two weeks.
This is where the generalisations about engineers cease. But the story is too good not to tell you how it ends up.
There were worse times, like when we got back together only to have him tell me that he’d been sleeping with a friend of his. So we broke up again but kept sleeping together for a bit. He posted me his diary (as you do) sometime after the break-up, and in it was a list of pros and cons written about me. I now wish I had kept it because it was pure gold, but all I can remember now is that a con was that I was a dud root, and a pro was that he really liked my parents. So many tears wasted over this guy! “Argh! Young Beth, something better is out there!” I yell back at myself. But to no avail.
There were even worse times, like when I hadn’t told my parents about why we’d broken up and they offered to have him live with them when all his flatmates moved out and he was completing his honours year. I’d moved out, so I had to schedule my time visiting my parents when he’d be out of the house. They were pretty bad times.
And then we got back together! (?!?!) It’s good for me to know that I have made many insane decisions. I hope it makes me a humbler parent, but I’m sure it won’t. Somewhere in there I went to visit Tabitha in Paris and my friend Mandy in Tokyo, and got into film school, and life started really going some great places for me. So I had the courage to dump him. Two years after we went to that crappy Italian restaurant. And he cried. But I didn’t.
He eventually followed his hermit dream and moved up to far north Queensland to work with steam engines (his first love), where he still lives I think, with two dogs and some cats.
The relationship, although painful a fair percentage of the time, taught me so much about myself and what I wanted from life and a life-partner. Len predicted that Jeff and I would get together, and with that he was right. I bare him some ill will in a very mild way, but don’t begrudge him staying in touch with my mother. Which he does. I’m grateful for that time; engineer and all.