You know how in movies, in the aftermath of a personal disaster, someone drives the main character home and before they say goodbye, they ask her: Are you going to be OK on your own?
And then the main character says yeah, sure, and shuts the door and then she pretty much falls apart, squeezing a million tears through her waterproof blackened lashes, or maybe her giggling girlfriends pop by with a bucket of ice cream and she somehow manages to keep it together with their help, or who knows, if she’s really unlucky, the bad guy is waiting for her, lurking in the semi darkness of her empty, depressing, horrible hiding place of a flat, and the worst is still to come.
So yeah, I’ve been thinking about this.
Guess what? It’s pretty much sucked lately. And I mean really sucked. Like I’ve got extra thick lemonade pumping through my veins after all the stupid lemons life’s been throwing my way, that’s how much it’s been sucking.
No one really asks me the You-gonna-be-OK-on-your-own question when we part by the tube station, but they probably would if they knew how much it SUCKS. And yes, I’d probably tell them I’m just fine and dandy, and having decided that, I’d not allow myself to ruin my makeup by crying or my figure by stuffing myself with mountains of vanilla flavoured diabetes. But at the back of my mind, I’d still know. It sucks. It sucks and if I’m not careful I might just spiral down this rabbit hole of suckiness and then what.
The best way I know how to deal with this is by, well, not really dealing with it.
I’m rarely on my own. I play loud music or watch reruns of Seinfeld and Family Guy whenever it gets too quiet. I run my 5Ks down the Broadway, where it’s smoky and crowded and off-license shops blink their phones-unlocked-here signs, instead of the park, where every other tree sports a Find Alice Gross poster and that makes me so sad, because she looks a little like me, and she was lost somewhere down my route to the office, and I don’t think I’ve ever run into her but I can’t really know, and I can’t help but wonder if she’s gonna be OK on her own.
And when the weekend comes, we pack the car and drive off to somewhere. We walk hand in hand, take photos, buy tickets to aquariums, museums, concerts, pop on open top tourist buses, order room service and enjoy peeling covers off beds other people have made for us. We’re lucky we can do this, we know it, but we also know we’re doing it because our lives scare us enough to drive us away from them. It’s not sightseeing, really, it’s self preservation. We’ve grown into these people who can’t handle a couple of plan-less days. We might just run into our own thoughts.
It’s Monday again.
My legs ache after three days of walking up and down the streets of Bristol.
I rest my fingers on the keys, reminding myself of every letter and sign for a few moments before I start typing ribs and tissues into what will at one point be a living, breathing online organism people will be clicking and tapping when they don’t feel like facing their own plan-less afternoons and evenings. I open my planner, this hardcover notebook where everything I’ve ever done and wanted to do has its number in a long, black inked list. Call solicitor. Buy eyeliner. Infinite Jest (54%). I start crossing Friday’s tasks out. I always like this part of the day. Pressing my pen against something, drawing a line hard enough that the ink seeps through to the next page, marking things as done and dusted and unlikely to go on haunting me for months, years, lives, who knows. As the day progresses, everything I’ve crossed out will get replaced by something else that needs looking at without protective glasses, and it sometimes scares me, this never ending list of things I need to sort out for ever and ever, in order to prove that I’m a functioning person, really.
I shut the notebook, turn on the music and press enter. Five more days til the weekend. I can do this, even on my own, even if the bad guy is hiding behind the curtains. What’s five days in the big scheme of endless lists of things to live through.