Happy New Year

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CC Image courtesy of Daniel john buchanan on Flickr

When you look through your 2016 diary, you’re annoyed to discover Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday again. Even though you’re single, were single on the last Valentine’s Day and have no reason to suppose you won’t be single in a month and a half’s time.

You embrace the New Year as a clean slate in dating terms, an opportunity to start anew: to put aside bad dating practices such as reminding guys who have forgotten about you that you exist. That includes the guy from Tinder who sent you a ‘Happy Christmas’ message but won’t commit to a date.

At 5pm on 1 January you send him a message saying ‘Happy New Year’.

BUT you won’t be carrying memories of failed relationships over into the New Year. No. You’ve decided – and this applies to both parties, to another human being over whose feelings you have no control, as well as your own, over which you have possibly even less control – that feelings are like annual leave: they can’t be carried over.

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I survey a broad cross-section of society i.e. Beatrice, Perky, my mother and Adrien, whose response is my absolute FAVOURITE. I print it off and flyer the flat with it, I love it THAT MUCH.

When I start to read your emails

So yeah, I survey my nearest and dearest, and there’s an overwhelming response of:

NOT OK

Which fortunately chimes with how I feel about the whole thing. I know I should be fine with it. I should be, like, that’s totally cool man, shrug it off and go out dancing with my girlfriends.

NOBODY DOES THAT.

But that’s not me. Maybe I’ve got too attached too quickly. Maybe I want a boyfriend so badly I’m ignoring all the reasons it probably won’t work long-term. Maybe this is more about pride and ego and wanting to feel special than my feelings for the guy. But whatever the reason, I’m not OK with it. So I tell him.

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It’s with mixed feelings that I ride the lift up to the fifth floor. Aside from the odd slip – queuing for returns for a play that I hoped would give me greater insight into Tristan’s medical history, and talking wistfully of him to my long-suffering friend and hostess (‘it’s… it’s like we can read each other’s minds!’) – aside from the odd slip, the past week has been delightfully free of unrequited longing. I even spent an evening in the company of a man who was both nice and – brace yourself – single and who I’d like to see again, though the jury’s out on whether he feels the same way.

Approaching the glass, pass in hand, I feel a little thrill of joy. Up there are two men who make my heart sing – and a job that makes my stomach drop.

The lift doors open onto the fifth floor. I put my pass to the scanner. The thrill has faded into nothingness. I keep my gaze dead ahead.

‘Anna!’

I look round and there he is, making the silly gesturing movements I have come to love so much.

‘How was your holiday?’

‘Good,’ I say, grinning.

‘Oh of course, you went to Edinburgh.’

Yes. Where he’s just been himself. Has he really only just remembered this fact?

‘What did you see?’ he says.

‘Some of the things you did, probably.’

‘Did you manage to see–?’

‘Yes.’

‘Was it–?’

‘Overrated.’ We laugh. ‘I still don’t know which show you’re talking about!’

‘Overrated could apply to lots of the things I saw.’ He frowns. ‘I had quite a lean Fringe.’

‘Yeah I know what you mean. I only saw one thing which I thought–.’

Tobias appears round the corner. ‘Welcome back! Did you go to Vienna?’

‘No, Edinburgh.’

Right now I feel like I’ve gone to heaven.

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As I arrive a girl is coming out. She seems to know me.

‘I’ve got a blind date,’ she says. ‘He just called to say he’s here, so I have to go!’

She tells me the back story.

‘This time last year,’ I say, ‘I went on a really good blind date, so… hopefully it’s a lucky time of year!’

I do talk crap sometimes.

‘Aaw yes, hopefully.’

We say an affectionate goodbye – I still have no idea who she is – and I make my way downstairs to the bar. So much for not remembering the significance of today’s date.

 

Several hours later…

I see him first in a group. We’re introduced and there’s a moment – eye contact, I think they call it – before the crowd separates us.

Later it brings us together.

‘Tristan,’ he says.

‘Hi. That’s an unusual name. I called a character in something I’m writing Tristan but I’ve never met one in real life.’

As opening gambits go, I’m pretty pleased with this one, even if it does raise some awkward questions…

‘You’re a writer?!’ he says.

‘Oh, well, sort of – it’s not my main job but I like to do it on the side.’

‘What sort of thing?’

‘Like… romantic comedy?’

‘Cool, so, what, short stories?’

‘More like vignettes.’

Vignettes. Nice. I should talk about writing more often while under the influence. I go on:

‘But hopefully they’ll turn into something more substantial at some point.’

Just like that, without me having to so much as lift a finger. Wouldn’t that be nice? Speaking of nice…

Tristan moves closer, his eyes still fixed on mine. ‘But you said it wasn’t your main thing. So, what is?’

However original the opener, it always comes back to that inevitable question. And, after we’ve parted company, he having said he’d like to talk more at so-and-so event in a few weeks’ time, that he’d like to read some of my stuff, that ‘we’ll… Facebook’ accompanied by typing gestures – after all that comes the inevitable truth…

‘I like Tristan. Is he single?’

The hostess looks apologetic. ‘He’s got a girlfriend, and she’s one of my best friends so I have to look out for her.’

I like the implication that if the girlfriend wasn’t one of her best friends Tristan would be fair game.

 

The next day I find myself on said girlfriend’s blog, trying to determine a) how long they’ve been together, and b) (and this is the more challenging part, read: total waste of time) how happy they are. It’s preferable to hanging out on Tristan’s Facebook profile. I hadn’t noticed straightaway on meeting him but now, faced with an album of stills, the resemblance is unmistakeable. Long face, square jaw, good teeth, full lips… everything is the same – eerily so – except the eyes which, instead of a clear bright blue, are dark brown. But that aside, Tristan, well… he’s just another Viable Prospect.

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I can’t wish I’d never met youCC Image courtesy of Thomas Leth-Olsen on Flickr

That you hadn’t appeared

Hunched

A little shy

Around the corner

I’m looking for Anna

I think you said

And proceeded to tell me of our mutual friend.

 

That I hadn’t sat beside you in the kitchen

That first day

And listened to you talk

And thought you the leader of the group

And felt a little awed.

 

That I hadn’t read your words of congratulation

And smiled so wide

Because you were the first to write the way I felt inside.

 

I can’t wish I’d never met you,

Only wish I’d met you sooner.

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