I’m getting political. I’ve decided to start a campaign to make people’s lives better. I’m sick of life being all me me me. I want to be civic minded. To fight for the issues that matter. To take a stand where it counts. I’m finally going to do my bit like a brave, fierce, towering suffragette. I’ll be sending out emails shortly and I hope you’ll join me in the struggle because, frankly, I’ve had enough.
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 often forget how lucky I am to live in a city like London, surrounded by people who are open-minded. Other people talk sometimes about the pressure from friends and families to settle down and I find it all a bit bemusing: But, why do they care? It strikes me that it must be hard not to internalise that pressure, to suck it all up like a mouthful of slime. Worry. Fear – it’s catching. Quick! Everyone shack up before the music stops! (Tip: the music doesn’t stop until you die, kids.)
Maybe I’m naïve, but I assumed most people had the same values as me: don’t steal or lie, don’t cheat on your exams or taxes or people, be kind to others, help if you can, work hard, protect your family, protect our world. Actually, I’ve been surprised at how often our values aren’t in synch: how many people are disingenuous or dishonest; how many are cruel or lazy or neglectful; how many can’t see how their actions make our world and hearts a bleaker place.
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.
The first time you have sex with a woman is a complete minefield. I don’t want to do men a disservice or anything, but they’re mostly pretty easily pleased between the sheets. Just swing your legs around a bit and yodel and they’ll usually sort themselves out quite happily.
Where do you stand on honesty? Are you an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink kind of person? Or do you take a more…curated approach to candour, drip drip dripping the truths as occasion demands?
How do you feel about your body? Everything dandy? Tickety boo? Do you wake up in the morning, run to the mirror and think phwoar, that is one hot piece of ass? No? Thought not.
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.