The Life Possible

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Four years ago today I hit publish on my first blog posts. My flatmate posted the link on a forum for tech-heads (not my target audience) and the feedback was… mainly about my choice of font. So I kept going, in the same font.

If my day job’s taught me anything (moot point) it’s that every anniversary, however insignificant, is something to build a marketing campaign around. I’ll spare you the marketing campaign and instead share with you the thoughts and words that have struck me most since starting the blog. It’s a mix of the new, the familiar and the random…

On relationships

‘You meet, you become lovers, and then you get to know each other, and then, if it works, it might become a relationship, but not necessarily. More often than not, it doesn’t work.’

CC Image courtesy of Alachua Country on Flickr

On love

‘I knew in my stomach. And also because I found myself willing to do almost anything for her and to see her prosper and be merry.’

CC Image courtesy of Candida.Performa on Flickr

On Berlin

‘I like the life possible there.’

(I said it was random.)

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Doctor Love

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5pm, Friday, I’m undressing for a man.CC Image courtesy of heipei on Flickr

 

I make the call at lunchtime. ‘No bookable appointments for two weeks’, they say. I’m about to hang up.

‘We’ve just had a cancellation. 4:40.’

‘Today?’

‘Yes.’

I vacillate. Work is quiet. Pub drinks are in the pipeline. I should go, alleviate my concerns. My health is more important than a gin and tonic with Tobias and Co.

‘Hmm today’s a bit tricky.’

 

‘Are you busy this afternoon?’ Gus says, when I’m back at my desk.

‘Errr… why?’

I should be going to the doctor. I shouldn’t be taking on a ton of Gus’ work so that he can leave early for a wedding.

I start Googling symptoms. Ten minutes later I’m convinced I have a solitary mastocytoma. I grab my phone and go out into the stairwell.

‘Is the 4:40 appointment still available?’

 

‘Come in.’

‘Hi.’

‘What can I do for you?’

I tell him about The Rash.

‘Did you start doing anything differently when it first appeared?’

That’s a vague question. I mean I wasn’t having sex if that’s what he means, though that sure as Hell would have been different.

‘No… no.’

‘Have you been away anywhere recently?’ he says, examining my back.

‘Err… Berlin in February? Other than that, I’m probably the most stationary person you’ve ever met…’

It’s like a date, this, only I can be way more candid. It’s also 5pm on a gloriously sunny Friday so I should probably stop with the glib remarks.

‘And… Yorkshire, last October…’

I think he’s trying to establish if I’ve visited anywhere where I might have been exposed to tropical diseases. Yorkshire is probably not top of the list.

‘And, what do you do?’ he says, resuming his seat.

This really is like a date. Date slash Tinder conversation, which is about as close to a date as I’ve got recently.

‘Copywriting,’ I say.

‘So you’re not exposed to any toxic chemicals…’

Lots of things about my job are toxic but…

‘No. Most of my office is permanently ill but I think that’s because we’re overworked.’

He manages a faint smile. ‘You want to try and avoid stressful situations.’

I take the prescription for anti-fungal cream – this bit is less like a date – and thank him as I leave.

CC Image courtesy of r0b1 on Flickr

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Desperate Measures

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CC Image courtesy of le vent le cri on FlickrYou might have noticed a slight drop in output recently. There are a few reasons for this:

1. I’m working every hour God sends in my new role so I have less time to write.

2. It’s tricky to meet people when you’re chained to your desk.

3. (and this is perhaps the most surprising) My threshold for what is blog-worthy appears to have changed. I have a draft folder full of silly stories about the time Tristan made a heart shape between his fingers at me across the office; or the time Karl suggested accompanying me to an art show only for his enthusiasm to cool when I told him the ticket price; or the time I unexpectedly found myself on a date – my brother‘s.

 

Tuesday night, I’m sitting in a pub somewhere in the West End with Ryan, Gus and Tristan. We’ve escaped ‘official’ work drinks. That is, I thought we all just happened to be leaving at the same time, but once out on the pavement, Tristan claps his hands together.

‘Now the fun can begin!’

Which means a pub, pints and Ryan asking the group at the neighbouring table if they know any single men he can go out with.

‘And,’ he points at me, ‘do you know any single men Anna can go out with?’

I break off laughing just long enough to request that they be straight.

 

‘We should make a bet,’ Ryan says en route to the station, ‘to see who can get a date first.’

‘What are we going to bet?’

Ryan is famously tight and I’m not exactly Mother Theresa.

‘A cappuccino?’

‘You’re on.’

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Fade In

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CC Image courtesy of distopiandreamgirl on Flickr

After two weeks of not having heard from VP I’m finally starting to move on. No more waking up and glancing at my phone expectantly. I go whole days without looking at his profile or re-reading old messages. OK there might be the odd cry on the Northern line, and for ten consecutive evenings I do absolutely nothing with myself, and the irony of baking an elaborate cake on the day which happens to be his birthday isn’t entirely lost on me. But by day fourteen, I’m getting back on track. I even go on a date and resist the urge to compare it to the incomparable. That, I tell myself, was another life. A fantasy. And anyway, he’s gone. I have to get over it.

 

Monday morning. My flatmate is back from holiday and the creak of the bathroom floor wakes me. I put out my arm, a beam of sunlight catching the dial of my watch. Half an hour before I have to get up.

 

This was one of the things which, in the course of the past week, had gone back to normal. The Nytol I’d purchased circa Second Date was now gathering dust on the bedside table. In fact, things had gone to the other extreme: bed by ten and multiple snoozed alarms. An extra half hour of sleep would be enjoyed, luxuriated in.

 

I roll over and that’s when I see it, the small pulsating light. I run through a short mental list of people it might be, and an even shorter list of people it won’t, and swipe the screen.

(TO BE CONTINUED

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Shoot Me

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‘What’s the occasion this time?’CC Image courtesy of avye on Flickr

‘Err….’ I scrunch up my face.  ‘How many people do you get coming in saying they’ve just been dumped?’

‘Aaw,’ she says with professional concern.

‘Not dumped,’ I put in quickly, ‘not in so many words…’

Make that no words.

Scissors at the ready, she meets my eye in the glass.  ‘No but – you want to feel good about yourself.’

I can tell she’s used that line before.

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I want to feel good about myself.’

 

She looks up from what she’s doing.  ‘Are you up to anything tonight?’

‘I… I don’t know.  I’m supposed to be having dinner with someone but I’m err waiting to hear if it’s gonna happen.’  I laugh.  ‘I’m so bad at this dating stuff!’

She gives me a sympathetic look. ‘Why don’t you just text him saying ‘are we still on for tonight?”

‘I thought about doing that,’ I say, taking out my phone, ‘but… whenever I’ve done that in the past it’s never panned out well.  I mean, whenever I’ve… not forced it, I’ve never forced it, but whenever I’ve – y’know…’

‘Taken the initiative?’

‘Yeah, it’s always turned out badly, and I end up thinking, if I’d only heeded the signs early on I’d have saved myself a lot of heartache.  So I figured, this time, I might as well leave it, because, well, he’s clearly not that interested.’

 

Exactly a month ago I’d found myself in the same predicament with VP.  At 1.30 in the afternoon, I’d cracked and texted him.  This time, with Redhead, I leave it.  By half 6, I’ve mentally re-allocated my evening.  I feel sad, but not crazed in the way I was when VP left me hanging.  I don’t think it’s because I’ve learnt from what happened.  No: it’s because it’s not VP.

 

7pm, I emerge from the tube.  Once home, I’ll write a shopping list.  It’s still early enough on a Saturday not to look like a total loser, wandering round Sainsbury’s with a basket for one.  I check my phone, more out of habit than anything else.  And there it is, a message from Redhead, asking if I have any ideas for dinner.  I don’t know what to feel.  Fed-up?  Frustrated?  Glad?  Sad?  Pissed off?

 

Part of me wants to greet him with a reprimand.  Before he’s had a chance to sit down I want to tell him he can’t do this.  I can’t do this!  I need plans and certainty and… plans.  I need plans!  Shoot me!

 

I bet Tristan would plan, which is a pointless thought.  And anyway he probably wouldn’t.

 

I’m too tired and generally fed up to put much effort into choosing a restaurant.  There’s a part of me which can’t be bothered to go.  But I will, for the simple reason that I find him really attractive.  Now shoot me.

CC Image courtesy of jenny downing on Flickr

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