I like someone. I met her a few weeks ago on a dating app but I didn’t get excited then because I know how fickle these apps can be: here today, gone tomorrow – or tonight or this afternoon or sometimes even by mid-morning before you’ve had a chance to open the hobnobs. That’s the worst. Please, let me eat my hobnob before you reject me. But she persevered and I persevered and a few days later I’m having a glass of wine with her in the bar of a five star hotel. It’s her choice and a good one. The room is beautiful, all done up in grandeur like an old royal, but sexy too, like she’s got her stockings on show. There’s also something seductive about being in a hotel, as if at any moment we could finish our drinks and slip into a four-poster upstairs.
And it’s over. 10 days. 15 messages. I’m not even sure I can use the word over – did it ever really begin? It was all going well until I suggested meeting up. We’d ticked off friends and homes and passions with no major upsets. We’d had a cheeky flirt – just a flash of thigh, a spot of conversational cleavage – to up the anticipation. We’d swapped our real names, which in the world of anonymous internet dating is, well, keen. Then I ask about meeting up and she goes as squirmy as fish in a bucket.
“Go on, send her a message.” “No.” “It’ll be fun! Look, she’s a pole dancer!” “No, what’s the point? I’ll be going home soon.” “That’s the point! Or what about this one? She’s cute.” “Dammit woman, no! I don’t want to have empty sex with some stranger.” “Fine.”
I think I’ve realised why people get married so young. I always wondered what the big rush was. What’s your hurry honey? Forever can wait another year or two. Strap on a backpack and hit the road. See the world. Make love with the wrong people. Make friends with the right people. Mess up. Learn. Fill your head with memories that will nourish you in the decades to come.
Forgive my ignorance, but what’s the deal with the whole lesbian vs bisexual thing we’ve got going on? I’ve felt it, the fear and the resentment and the willful misunderstanding simmering beneath the surface. Sometimes it bursts out on Twitter or Facebook like an angry boil and the trolls crawl out from under their bridges with spikes. How did we get here and why?
I had a friend once who had feelings for me. Actually, let me not mince my words, Englishify them like a cup of weak tea. He said he was in love with me. We were friends for years, first at work and then at play and I think, deep down, I always knew how he felt. A love like that finds ways to escape, in looks or gestures or the occasional drunken slur: “so, do you fancy going for dinner and then I love you let’s get married checking out thingy’s party?” Did I try and temper his feelings? Encourage him to meet other women? Give him space? No. I liked it.
As you get older, friendships become so important. It’s ironic really, as often friends are the first thing to go in our big, busy lives. We get partners and kids and houses and suddenly we’re stressed, stressed, stressed and we’ve got no time and the babysitter just cancelled and why the fuck are my car keys in the dishwasher? and we let our friendships thin just at the time we need them most.
Regrets are terrible things. They’re like pieces of glass littering a beach. As you roam back over your memories it’s all warm and soft until you feel the sharp slice of them through your feet. They hold so much power. What could my life have been if only I had followed my heart, held my nerve, chased my dreams? The path you took will never be as exciting or fulfilling as the one that passed you by.
Unrequited love. It sounds so…dramatic doesn’t it? Like something from a novel or a film: “l’ll never love again!” she cried breathlessly. Unrequited love is champagne tears and silk gloves and morose diamonds in the moonlight. It’s mourning and yearning and summers in Paris in the arms of another lover. It’s sending away breakfast and picking at dinner and waiting for the hopeful ding of the postman’s bell. It’s an affliction of youth: a brief, sweet, bitter wail of despair, strong in its turn but swift to abate.
“So…so, let me get this straight. You went to a party at her boyfriend’s house. You got very, very drunk. You told her you loved her. And later you were sick on your hands.” “And on my coat. And a bit on the carpet.”