A Mother’s Love

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CC Image courtesy of dbeck03 on Flickr

I stop dead. ‘He’s not coming. The colleague – the one in the posts…’

My mother looks aghast. ‘Not Tobias?’

I can’t help smiling. One day I’ll accidentally call a colleague by their blog name.

‘No, the other one.’ I say his real name.

‘Aww.’

Fuck.

 

My brother is laying the table. ‘Are you going to eat with us?’

‘Don’t worry,’ I say, ‘I’ll eat later. I’m going to go… spaz out somewhere.’

 

My mother finds me in the sitting room, staring at the floor.

‘Do you want this candle?’ she says.

‘Oh… err it’s a new one. There’s not much point opening a new one for tonight. None of it matters anymore. I don’t mean that. I mean… it’s just – probably not worth it.’

‘OK.’

She’s about to go.

‘This isn’t about Tristan, by the way,’ I say quickly. ‘It wouldn’t matter who it was. It’s about numbers.’

‘I realise that.’

CC Image courtesy of MinniekBunnik on Flickr

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The Worst of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Juska Wendland on FlickrA couple of years ago, just after the car crash that was my 26th birthday party, my brother gave me some good advice.

Don’t invite someone you’re dating to a party because it will make it all about them.

When I drew up the guest list for my housewarming, Tom‘s name was conspicuously absent. Obviously. I’d said I didn’t just want something casual and he’d suggested ‘being friends’.

Colleagues featured heavily on the list. Then the usual round-up of friends, my brother, and men I’ve always had a vague crush on but nothing has ever happened with.

It was safe. The latter wouldn’t come; the former would treat it like after-work drinks.

Then Friday happened.

‘Can I invite Tom?’

Beatrice says no. I play the Friday card. Tom is the least of my worries.

I don’t see Tom everyday and feel a jolt in the pit of my stomach. I don’t don my headphones to drown out his voice when he comes over to talk to Ryan. I don’t look up mid-meeting, see him walk past, meet his eye, struck by the sadness of his expression, and spend all afternoon wondering what it means.

Tom doesn’t pass my desk on his way out…

‘Bye,’ I say, with a wave.

… and acknowledge my farewell but keep walking.

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In Search of Perfection

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‘I’m giving you a cheque,’ my grandmother says, folding the slip of paper, ‘but if there’s anything else you want…’

‘Like a wedding dress,’ my aunt puts in.

I laugh. I don’t know how long my relations have been suppressing the urge to quiz me about my love life but today, finally, they’d cracked.

‘Has your brother got a girlfriend?’ is how it starts – a complete non sequitur to what we’d previously been talking about.

‘No,’ I say, ‘not as far as I know.’

‘He needs a strong woman,’ my aunt says.

I laugh. ‘I doubt he thinks that!’ I take a sip of my drink. ‘What do you think I need?’

‘I don’t know,’ she says slowly, ‘but I suspect you’re looking for perfection.’

‘Why do you think that?!’

‘Well, you can’t even choose a draining rack!’

The draining rack had gone back, hence the cheque.

I laugh. ‘Mmm yeah. But it was too small! There were things wrong with it!’

My aunt doesn’t say anything. I take another sip.

‘So there’s no one…?’

This from my grandmother.

I think of my Saturday dateTall, charming, successful… looks a bit like Tom Hiddleston: I know better than to mention him after just one drink.

‘Hmm no,’ I say, ‘but I’m trying!’

‘Is there anyone at work?’

‘I have some wonderful colleagues, but they all have spouses or long-term girlfriends.’

My relations look almost as disappointed by this as I am, which is saying something.

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28 Days Later

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CC Image courtesy of brian glanz on FllickrIn the time that elapses between the journalist asking me out and his forgetting I exist, I turn 28.

The evening of my birthday, my brother rings. I end up telling him about my latest Tinder disappointment.

‘Tinder’s quite a casual way of meeting people,’ he says, ‘so this kind of behaviour is to be expected.’

I remind him that I’ve been on Tinder for more than two years and it’s only in the last few months that this has started happening: a guy asks me out, I suggest a date and then… nothing. The Man from Hampstead, The Man of Phone Sex Fame (admittedly that one was a non-starter), The Man from Euston Station (nothing to do with Tinder but a convenient statistic), the journalist – it’s getting very boring.

And now Viable Prospect. He proclaims meeting up to be a ‘grand idea’ and says he’ll let me know when he’s back in town at the end of the week. Four weeks of radio silence later, I unfriend him, delete his number and resolve, finally, to move on.

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Going Places

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CC Image courtesy of B. Gilmour on Flickr

I gave a dinner party the other day. One particularly beautiful couple came and held the floor with tales of their travels and adventures.

As always seems to happen when I’m in the company of couples, conversation at one point turned to my love life, or lack thereof.

‘Everyone puts the same thing!’ I say, referring to online dating profiles. ‘They like travelling, meeting new people and seeing friends. I don’t like travelling, meeting new people or – I do like seeing my friends.’

‘You don’t like travelling?’ This from Mr. Beautiful, whose usually mask-like face is wearing an expression of faint surprise.

‘It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just, I dunno, I find it tiring – it’s not what I want to do when I’m tired from work.’

‘Why don’t you say on your profile, ‘I don’t like travelling’?’

Mr. Beautiful – and this hardly comes as a surprise – is evidently not familiar with the cardinal rules of online dating, one of which is ‘don’t be negative in your profile’.

‘Because it’s not true,’ I say.

This is lucky because next week – and it would be happening this week except that the guy in question is travelling on the only days I’m free – I’m going on a date with a pilot. And not just any pilot. This one I stumbled across on TinderMy favourite kind of match: someone I already know of – if not actually know – and spoke to several years ago over online chat when my brother left his Facebook logged in (rookie error), and who sounded funny and nice.

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