The Best of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Ibliskov - Flucтuaт Nεc Mεяgiтuя on FlickrI’d been looking forward to the party. Tristan would be there, and Tobias. We’d demolish the canapé supply and drink too much cheap white wine. Tobias would make a passing remark about clothing, sparking a fit of anxiety from Tristan about his branded jumper, and I’d reassure him it was fine. Twice.

 

We’d cross the road to the neighbouring pub. Tristan would order doubles in place of my usual single. We’d bump into someone I went on a couple of dates with once and Tristan would ask, ‘What’s the deal with that guy?’ Twice.

 

I’d say or do something daft.

‘You’re really great,’ he’d say, laughing and clinking glasses.

 

We’d hug and I’d say:

‘I’ll miss you when you go to New York!’

And he’d tell me to come visit.

 

Out on the pavement, we hug again.

‘I always want people to be more like you,’ I say, ‘cos that makes them a better person.’

‘You’re really great,’ he says again.
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Later, in the casino, over champagne, we lose money and laugh about it.

 

Later still, in the crowded bar, he kisses me. Light, tender and unexpected.

‘Tristan…?’

I meet his eye. He looks happy and drunk and takes my hand, tight, beneath the table. We rest our heads together.
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Memories

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CC Image courtesy of kcr@in on FlickrThe most precious – and arguably the most delusional – thing VP ever said to me was over dinner in a restaurant just off Trafalgar Square. It was our third date. He was asking me about my job and I was being vague, unwilling to reveal the mindlessness of my day-to-day employment to this dazzling Renaissance man. And that’s when he said it.

‘I imagine you’re well-liked at work.’

I resisted the urge to pull a face. ‘Er… I hope so.’

 

I went to a wedding the other day. In her speech the bride said of her husband, ‘He makes me be the best version of myself’.

 

Now, when I’m having a really shitty day at work and a colleague comes over to ask me a perfectly reasonable question and I want to snap and scowl, I remember VP’s words.

 

After dinner we crossed the river, walked west and sat on a bench kissing and sharing stories in the shadow of Big Ben.

 

I’ll never forget the nights we spent together but I’ll treasure more what he said to me as we sat across from one another, my hand in his, fingers interlacing.

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‘… and I remain not in love.’CC Image courtesy of furibond on Flickr

This is the bad news. But we’re only 15 minutes into a 45-minute conversation. I’m not feeling great, obviously, and he’s sounding increasingly uncertain to the point that he wants to tell me – he does tell me that he’s confused in his own feelings. He really likes me, and tells me so several times. He thinks I’m witty and beautiful. If I can’t do what we’re doing could I find a way to being friends at some point? But no, he says in answer to his own question, you’ve said no to friends.

The idea of being friends with someone I fancy as much as I do VP makes me shudder. I can barely refrain from kissing him when we are together and it’s OK for me to do so; the idea of making polite chit-chat over herbal tea doesn’t bear thinking about. No, this has to be a clean break, for now anyway. Perhaps, I find myself thinking, when I’m happily married to Tristan with three children, and the back catalogue of Country Life in the downstairs loo (joke), I would be able to see VP. But even I know that’s a terrible idea. We were never friends. I love the way he kisses me, the way he invades my personal space, how he says ‘tell me’ when I begin a story, at once fierce and gentle. The things I love about him are what lovers do, not friends.

So I say no to friends. And no when he asks if we could speak again soon.

‘Do you think at some point in the future,’ he says, ‘when you’ve got five kids and you’re incredibly wealthy… and successful… and happy, we might be able to have a peppermint tea together?’

What is it with him and herbal tea?! He doesn’t even like tea! And neither do I.

‘That’s a lot of hypotheticals,’ I say, again thinking of Tristan. ‘I don’t know… maybe….’

This is when I start thinking about how to shut down the conversation without resorting to When Harry Met Sally sound bites. And I’m assuming from his mutterings that he’s doing the same thing. There’s a pause, then he says in a different tone of voice, clear and precise:

‘I’m moving back to London.’

I half-laugh. ‘What?’

‘Early next year.’

He tells me about the new job and his plans for the intervening months. I let him speak, prompting with the occasional question. I don’t know why he’s telling me, or what to feel.

 

A short while later and again I’m casting about for suitable parting words.

‘We’ll see…’ I begin. The sentence peters out.

‘Yes, see you.’

He must have misheard, must have thought I said ‘I’ll see you’. I want to put him right, I want honesty and truth to carry through right to the end. But I stop myself. Perhaps this way is better, a white lie.

CC Image courtesy of robin_why on Flickr

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Lives Of The Poets

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I told you once,CC Image courtesy of gasboyben on Flickr

In a desperate moment,

That I have a famous poet relative, and

Could you guess who?

Auden,

You began

No.

Owen?

Random

And didn’t he die childless?

Then a curve ball

Smyrno…

I don’t know how to spell her,

But the other day

Bed-bound

I read the poet who

You said

‘Kept me alive one February in Massachussetts’

You paint pictures with words

It’s little wonder I couldn’t

Resist you.

I loved her too.

 

You went on…

Arnold,

You have something Arnoldian about you.

I don’t like where this is going,

I said.

Betjeman?

Lessing?

Clare?

Mad.  Thanks.

And sad

That that should be my first thought.

I gave you a clue,

A clever clue

For a clever guesser

But it didn’t help.

Dryden

Your final guess

Before calling it a night

Sleep tight

You said

In Clapham

Where Arnold

And his ‘fine jaw’

Were from

Apparently.

 

The other day I

Looked up Arnold.

I’m not talking to you anymore,

I said,

As a joke.

You took it literally.

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The Definition Of Insanity

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CC Image courtesy of Stigs on FlickrThere are some people whose messages give you that feeling.  Butterflies.  Their name appears on the screen and you don’t open it right away.  Instead you use the fact it’s there, waiting for you, as leverage, to make you do some chore you’ve been putting off.  As you unload the dishwasher, or make lunch for the following day, you try not to think about it.  The message will disappoint; it always does.

 

It’s inevitable that when I go back on Tinder, Viable Prospect crosses my mind.  Imagine, I think to myself of an evening, if he got back in touch.  I would… ignore it.  Yes, that’s what I’d do.  It’s only a fleeting thought, I mean, why would he contact me?  How would he even know I was back on it?  Unless he was browsing his chat history and saw I’d recently been ‘active’ (shudder).  But people don’t do that.  I dismiss the thought.

 

Mid-week, I’m kicking back on the sofa, editing a post probably.  Or stalking Matthew.  More likely stalking Matthew.  I see my phone flashing white and swipe the screen.

There he is, in all his blue-eyed, bright-smiled, typo-free glory. Being witty, damn him.

Last time I held out twenty-four hours before replying – a Christmas miracle.  I also told myself that if he hadn’t suggested meeting up after two weeks, I would leave it.  Which I did.

I last all of ten minutes – ten minutes, for Christ’s sake! – before writing back.

Each time I hear from the guy I think maybe, just maybe, he’ll ask me out.  He doesn’t.  Not for a moment do I seriously believe I won’t reply.  That’s not true.  In the seconds immediately after reading each message, feeling that familiar wave of disappointment, I swear off the whole thing.  Even as I type the words, I’m hating him, hating myself for my complete lack of self-discipline.  How many other women are caught in his web?  To be fair, most are probably asleep.  It’s gone 1am and I’ve just been told I’m weird/attractive.  Which is enough to make me smile into my pillow.

Charming, blue-eyed, bright-smiled Viable Prospect thinks I’m weird/attractive.

I might be both, or neither, but I’m definitely a fool.

CC Image courtesy of tim ellis on Flickr

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