Let me paint the picture for you. Half Chinese, Welsh, internet-happy, emo teen living in a quaint village in South Wales. That’s me. Aged 17. A decade on and I still remember every detail of my Myspace profile. It was ferocious pink because I was sexy like that. HelloGoodbye kicked in when you landed on my HTML customised page. I listed all my loves and curated my top friends. I had the classic bobble head profile picture which showed 83% forehead. I had my poker straight hair swept and backcombed across my head. I thought I looked scene; I actually looked like a miniature coconut with all that unfortunate genetic baby hair. I used to wear skin-tight, cystitis-inducing drainpipe jeans ‘held up’ by my Emily Strange skater belt. I listened to The Used and Finch and Taking Back Sunday. My girlfriends and I used to date anyone in school who remotely resembled anyone from New Found Glory/showed an interest in skateboarding. I distinctly remember designing a goth tutu in textiles class. And so, one day, a cute valley boy requested my hand in Myspace friendship. His name was Roo. And he wore fingerless skeleton gloves and a skin-tight denim jacket and had a lip piercing, and he was the coolest thing I’d seen on screen. We messaged for weeks – long, indulgent musings about art and music and things that made us happy. My mother watched me run in from school every day and crank up the dial tone to get onto MSN.
Roo and I agreed to meet at the only emo club in South Wales, a classy establishment that, in my day, was filled with cool kids who wore sweatbands around their wrists and had snake bite piercings. I wore a leopard print slip (no judgements here guys) and my coconut hair. I nervously drank cranberry juice (underage and still working on that cystitis) and watched as he walked in with all his mates to Head Automatica "Beating Hearts Baby". And then he ignored me. The bastard saw me and completely ignored me behind his blonde streaked fringe. Livid. I was bummed out. My friends attempted to comfort me but in true teen style, I decided the evening was a complete write off and loathed them all for even trying to be nice to me. Just when I was fully spiralling under, he bounced over with his massive toothy smile and said in an almost incomprehensibly thick Welsh accent, 'appenin?' Turns out he wasn’t drunk enough to talk to me… must've been the slip girls. And that was it. I had no idea I was going to spend the next decade of my life with this person. But we grew to become inseparable; truly the best of friends. All I remember of that first year was belly laughing and that feeling of complete happiness that only your first love gives you. Like being inside a gnocchi; warm and soft. He would download music and upload onto CDs for me (listen to our emo love playlist below) and I would listen to them over and over, and over. We lived in each other's drainpipe pockets. We wanted to grow up together, make art together, have a studio, be creative and explore the world. So we did.
He was a graphic designer in Wales and I was moving to London to go to university. But we didn’t let the winds of time part us like it did our friends – it didn't even cross our minds. We worked all that summer on building a portfolio for him. He wanted to be an illustrator or a product designer and he was going to apply for St Martins and live his dream and be in London. He spent the next year in Wales saving for university and commuting to London, keeping us alive. I remember us nervously driving to his interview at St Martins. He wore this light blue BHS shirt and a vintage tie. He wanted to look smart. And he got accepted, because he’s a brilliant human. And so we grew up and after a few years living in our art deco studio off Bermondsey Street, eating artisanal breads and with our great creative jobs, we looked around and thought: it’s time to do it. No, he didn’t get down on one knee and no, we didn't buy a two-up-two-down; we sold all our stuff and moved to New York! Because London was perfect and it was time for an adventure. I had been a confident teenager and I knew what I wanted from life; I had big plans. But there was one thing I didn’t know – I didn’t know I needed Roo to achieve it all. We are bigger and stronger for being together. And I don’t think it’s a happy coincidence that we met on Myspace, the home of creative anarchy. The music was different, emotional, gutsy. Emo was, arguably (definitely?) the last British subculture. We were internet babies, born out of dial up, technical innovation, hacking... all the good shit. All the shit that’s made Roo and I successful at our jobs now. I was editing selfies before Kim and buying stuff on Myspace way before Etsy.
But I’m not going to sit here and write a story to make you feel bad you never got your Myspace account live or make you roll your eyes in disdain at my happily emo after, so I hope you take my story with lightness of heart. I never meant to be with someone for a decade. It just crept up on me, like back fat. Online dating gets slammed so much, and sure, there are loads of horror stories, but that shit happens in the real dating world too, so why not open up your chances of meeting someone interesting by placing yourself in the right online room; a shared room with shared interest and shared passions, geo-fed and age defined. Maybe I’m a romantic because fate served me a good fish... I’m 27 now and under different circumstances I would be swiping all kinds of right, but I’m sure as hell glad my 17 year old self did it for me. So now we're all grown up, we have hanging plants and a dog and proper jobs. We are a creative team at the same company, collaborating on projects while Betty (our dog we adopted online) sleeps on our desk. We recently bought a smoothie maker FFS. But we're still partial to black lipstick and stretched ear lobes, and we still listen to Fall Out Boy while we eat our gluten free granola.