His face was perfectly symmetrical.
His aftershave climbing over the table.
I inhaled harder, as it belly-danced circles in my nose.
Round and around, as sexy as the red light that drenched us from above.
“Mmmmmmmmmmmm,” I said back, with serious eyes. Occasionally nodding.
This date was the kind that turned you from Princess Jasmine on the way in to Mr Potato-head on the way out.
You know, the character from Toy Story that puts on different faces and expressions for other people’s enjoyment? Well that was me that night.
Don’t get me wrong, it was sweet to buy someone cocktails all night. But to then forget to ask the date any questions about themselves was an easy nose-dive to the bin of anyone’s contact list.
A few more hours passed and I became satisfied that me wanting to fold him up into a take-away box seemed as appetising as calling my mother, after a year long of silence…
It’s funny- since lockdown ended, the last two weeks had felt like the equivalent of 2 years. Everything felt like it was happening all at once. With no time to think, feel or savour anything.
However, I know I couldn’t have been the only one who felt somewhat infected by the newfound freedom. Instagram stories were lit on fire with fuchsia or tangerine satin outfits, fresh faces and the aroma of possibilities making everyone smile brighter. Stay out longer. Spend quicker.
Over the last few weeks, I too watched a flourish of drinks appear and then disappear from in front of me. As faces changed and swirled, feeling both new and yet familiar.
I remember during a Halloween party, looking down to find my body drenched in sequins and found the sensation almost hypnotising. Pumpkins, Mexican Vampires, Pineapple vapes, buying crock pots with my dad in Newtown, trying to avoid my ex boyfriend by getting into a bathtub- only to be fished out by a new pair of hands, which I was starting to get use to seeing.
The only thing which was unfamiliar, was his ex. With the letter ‘V’ in a heart, tattooed under his ribs.
I never thought much about the letter V before, yet here it was. Always in bed with us…
But I guess, everyone has a list of people they loved- visible or not.
However, everyone’s social indulgence had also led to a shift in my share house.
One where I had no energy to talk or listen or ask anyone how their day’s were. I felt bad, as I arrived home one night to find one of my flatmates in a state. Tears were caught in the creases of his eyes, as out of nowhere he confessed how alone he felt.
Lockdown made us all each other’s primary means of socialisation. And now it was over, we were back to outsourcing.
However, if you’re an international student, with all your friends and family back home it would feel possibly more lonely than before.
I felt bad, making a mental note to invite him out to some group drinks, coming up. However, inside the house, I just couldn’t help that my tiredness stuck to the walls.
Going home reminded me I needed a nap, shower or to study, as the house turned back into a cave of rest and relaxation.
Whereas, my new job made people call my name almost in sync with four different bells, which rang from an ungodly 6am all the way to 3pm. With a spare 15 minutes to elevate aching feet, stuff shreds of chicken into my mouth while half chatting, half arguing with my dad about something.
And come today I was finally able to hit pause…
I got home after completing a photo shoot for my assignment, after sewing all morning and then working three days in a row with a sprinkle of a date in-between.
Soothing thoughts arrived from listening to John Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’ album, which massage my mind with ideas about the week; finally able to comb out the kinks and relax.
What I really didn’t like however, was how tired I always was. The burn-out from my degree was taking over. And it made me worry sometimes, that I came across as a bimbo rather than smart or interesting.
My uni deadlines were also only a few weeks away and yet I was not the least bit interested. I was always exhausted, working a lot and/or socialising with a vengeance.
Over the last few weeks C and I had been stuck in each other’s hair.( I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a trend in post-lockdown romances, that piggybacked the optimism and relief that came from the release of the vaccinations.)
C was older than me, almost 30. He tried to go pro for soccer when he was just 16 and even moved to Italy for it.
At first, I found the physical connection intoxicating. However the communication was not so easy.
The relationship kind of reminds me of a quote I read in my new book- 500 Greatest Writers of All Time; ‘Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.”- Oscar Wilde.
C was more sure in that department, being older. But power seemed to be a thread that kept popping up everywhere, like Blues Clues. We often had somewhat playful-turned heated discussions about equality.
Dominance– maybe that was my type. However the issue with this was I enjoyed being dominant too. On the same level as my partner. Which caused friction, fireworks and then frustration.
It annoyed me that this type, always needed to prove that they were that little bit more so than me. They needed to be more right, smarter, better.
And I found myself like before, rolling over at certain points in order to keep the peace. Or you could say, on an island of my own, when it came to compromise.
But it’s a weird feeling, being more comfortable with someone’s body than their mind. It’s very off brand, but I guess, when in Rome…
However I did want to stop this constant desire to move, as I was growing tired of arriving to everything late. To sleep, to gatherings. To feeling my feelings, to saying no to drinks.
However after ending 4 months of lockdown it did feel worth celebrating. But now it feels like a sense of balance is in order.
Which meant, I needed to sit and stay put right in the middle somewhere. And tonight that middle seemed like it was my bed.