Theatre Space

Chat # 5

Keel Square


Lockdown has given some of us time and space to reflect on our lives. Having found himself alone for the first time in years, Josh has some things he needs to get off his chest.


Josh (male, late twenties) talks into his phone, leaving someone a series of voice messages. 

JOSH: To be honest, I was relieved when the government started the first Lockdown. I’d been working so hard, and I was committed to so many public facing projects… but I was burnt out. 

I’d been saying ‘yes’ to too much stuff. Working twelve to fourteen hour days. I was so proud of my work ethic, you know? That I worked harder, for longer hours, than everyone else. It was my thing? 

But I was letting people down. No-one was getting the best of me. I was turning work in late, and it was, like, okay? But I wouldn’t say I was proud of any of it. And my own projects? Pfff! Forget about that! 

So, yeah, when the first Lockdown came, I was, like, thank you! I could still do some work online. Enough. And the rest of it either got postponed or cancelled. Which was fine by me. 

Having space to breathe, to think, to sleep? Oh, man. For the first few months, it was like I’d been given all these little holidays. But I was at home all the time. And I wasn’t able to see anyone but Tom. It got… difficult. 

We’d been in an open relationship for a while. There were things he wanted that I couldn’t give him. Like, he wants to spend so much time… not really doing anything? Just… being together? 

But I love meeting new people. Getting to know them? You find so much new stuff like that. New movies and music. New coffee shops and little indie places? Honestly, if I could only go on one date with everyone I matched with, say ‘thanks for the chat’ and never see them again, I’d be fine with that! Most of the time. 

With everything closed, it was just us. It brought us closer at first. I was more relaxed, and he got as much time with me as he needed. 

But then he started looking at houses. He found this terraced cottage near the seafront. Five minutes from the beach. The dogs would have loved it. 

That made everything real. I’m not about getting married or having kids, so this was as real as it was going to get. And I think I was okay with that? But “I think I’m okay with that” wasn’t enough for him. 

The house fell through. Someone else in the chain pulled out. And after that, we were marking days, really. Waiting for lockdown to end and our lives to begin again. 

He started sleeping in the spare room, and before I knew what was happening, he’d moved out. Took the dogs with him, too. Made sense, I suppose. My hours meant I wouldn’t always be able to walk them. And it was him who wanted them in the first place. 

For the first time since uni, I was alone. I missed the dogs. But I also felt like I needed to really talk to someone… and I didn’t know who. Most of my friends are from work, and I’ve been really bad at reaching out to them outside of projects. 

So I had a lot of time to think. About where I’m at in my life. About the people I want around me. 

When I left uni, I was going to travel. I was going to live in Germany. Brazil. Canada. But everything I’ve done has taken me further from those places. Tied me to Sunderland more and more securely. 

And then you rang. I don’t want to think about how many years it’s been since our last weekend in Ontario. But it still feels like last night. I was going to call you back then. But I met Tom. And we moved in together. We bought dogs. I got a job. I grew up. 

And I’ve realised I don’t want any of those things. I’ve settled for them, when I could have had so much more. If I’d dared. If I’d just been brave enough to stand up and say what I want. I want you. To call me back, at least. And maybe we can figure the rest out from there? Sorry. I know that’s a lot for a voice message, but you’ve been so… everything! Just… all the things. And I want you to know I appreciate it. I appreciate you. And I can’t wait to show you how much.