I don’t know about you, but sometimes my head can go a bit…wonky. Everything might look fine from the outside – the walls have been freshly painted, the windows are sparkling – but inside the telly’s been smashed, there are books all over the floor and moths have eaten half my dress collection. I wonder if this is how people who are depressed feel. Like the inside of their head’s been vandalised.
The Friend has been out of my life for a few weeks. And even though I’m relieved that she’s gone, relieved that I no longer have to wade through her clouds of angry silence, I have no idea how to find my happy place again. I still hate that she found a way inside. That she cut through all the protective skin and veins and bone and shoved her dirty little fingers into my heart, like a toddler with a bowlful of jelly.
It would be bad enough dealing with this on its own but everyone – everyone – is engaged or pregnant. I get a text from a friend, engaged at the Trevi fountain, grinning and blinging with her husband-to-be. A week later I get another engagement in a castle. Hot on its heels is a pregnancy announcement. Then another.
It’s like wildfire. It’s like the Black Death. I’m half expecting to announce to myself that I’m engaged or pregnant. Good women everywhere are falling – in love, in marriage, with child – and all I can think is: give it to me. Give me the Black Death. Stop being so selfish and fucking breathe in my face or spit in my eyes or bleed into my carpet. Make me sick with the love you feel.
I’m happy for them of course I am but, Jesus, do I have to be happy for all of them at once?
I get back on Tinder, because what else is there but acres of empty, meaningless minge? (Maybe I’ll ask for that on my headstone). I swipe for 2 miserable weeks – and then I have an epiphany.
I get my phone out and start nervously composing a text:
“So, I’ve never done this before but God dammit, I’m a 31 year old woman and it’s time to grow a pair,” I write.
“Would you like to be friends? In the last 2 weeks I’ve had 2 engagements and 2 pregnancies. FOUR. FOUR BABIES AND WEDDINGS AND I CAN’T RELIABLY POACH AN EGG. I have 1 single friend. I need more single friends.”
I stop, think, then follow up with:
“Obviously if you’re not single and are pregnant or married then congratulations!!”
She replies 3 minutes later:
“I LOVE YOU. I’m neither of those. I’d absolutely love that.”
“Awesome.” I reply.
It’s not dates I need – it’s single mates. People who get how simultaneously brilliant and shit dating can be. People who aren’t busy on the weekends seeing the in-laws or buying baby gear. People who will be my plus one, for dinners or nights out or short breaks away. People who can remind me that life isn’t a race, that I’m not losing and that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of us bumbling along on this road less travelled.
I need new friends and now I’ve got one. A really good one. Welcome back, the Traveller.