With: 'Fleabite' (born 197x)
Date: 15 August 2016
Fleabite is another new friend I met online, most likely through OKCupid - a rich vein of interesting people doing relationships in intentionally different ways. I asked if they could host me when I passed through Glasgow in order that we could hang out and chat about cycle touring, queerness and our many other shared interests.
I stayed the previous night at Glasgow youth hostel and arrived at Fleabite's late morning as agreed. They live on a double-figures floor of a tower block and have an awe-inspiring view. Fortunately for me (arriving with my 40kg bike) the lift was working.
We set off fairly soon for a walk, stopping at LIDL to buy - if I remember rightly - rolls and pastries. I've paid several short visits to Glasgow over the years and have always preferred the feel of it to Edinburgh. I was delighted to discover some new parts of it on this walk with Fleabite, an English person who has made the city their home.
We stopped at an up-market cheese shop before joining the tree-lined river. Fleabite - who like me practices a solo form of non-monogamy and tries to relate in line with their values - asked if they could talk through a current dilemma to do with one of their relationships. I was happy to act as a sounding-board. As I've said before, I'm always pleased when I meet other people who'd rather get straight on with the important stuff rather than waste precious time on small talk! In this and a number of other respects I found Fleabite quite similar to me! The general theme of the conversation was the challenge of letting each relationship be whatever it is, and to change, without seeing the passing of some aspects as a disaster or a failure as normative scripts urge us to.
After a while we stopped to eat our picnic on a bench next to a loch on the canal, where I was thrilled to spot a kingfisher. Next Fleabite took me into a newly established project that's working to make Glasgow more bike-accessible for all, including getting physical barriers removed from canal towpaths and other cycleways, and renovating adapted bicycles of various kinds. The guy running the project is obviously a real visionary and a proper hands-on activist, and I could tell that Fleabite saw in him a kindred spirit. We stayed for quite a while learning about the project.
On the way back to Fleabite's flat along the canal we talked about cycle touring. The year before Fleabite had cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats having done relatively little long distance cycling beforehand. I was impressed! They had many questions about my gear choices, which I did my best to answer.
Thinking ahead to the evening we talked about what we might eat. Fleabite said they barely drink, and I noticed a slight pang of 'eek, does that mean I shouldn't drink either?' I probably had at least one alcoholic drink every day during the summer, which can't fail to produce a physical habit. It was around then that I decided I would start my (usually annual) month-off-booze on 26 August in order to be abstaining throughout most of my time in expensive Scandinavia! Fortunately, though, Fleabite had a couple of interesting beers in their fridge, so I gratefully drank one of those!
Thank you Fleabite for agreeing to host me, and for the terrific walk and talk! The first of many, I hope!