A Million Grains of Sand

It takes me about an hour to adjust.

First I water the plants. I always think they know if I don’t do it straight away. I sense them as I walk around the place stuffing things in drawers, disappointed and vengeful, wilting their leaves hurriedly, on purpose, just to spite me. I remove dead petals, prod at the compost, sprinkle plant food.

Then I unpack the suitcase. I load the washer, return sandals and flip flops to the shoe closet, perfume bottle to the vanity top, half read books to our nightstands. An impossibly intricate sea shell to the already overflowing bowl on the coffee table.

One or two things still smell like the sea. But mostly it smells like home. Furniture wax and a fresh bottle of red breathing on the kitchen counter, fabric softener and basil, a hint of geranium through the living room windows.

I feel rested. A new, unexpected state of affairs.

July This and That: I Don’t Even Know

Our life these days, it’s really something.

We meet in front of the train station after work. I’m always half an hour early and I end up killing time looking at people come and go. Then V shows up, tired and grumpy and squinting his famously less than perfect eyes to place me in the crowd. I enjoy it, this moment when I alone know how many slabs of concrete and pairs of shoulders stand between us, when I can decide what face to put on, whether to scare him or surprise him or act like nothing happened, like I couldn’t tell he was lost and confused for once, even for only a tenth of a second. We walk the Broadway together talking. I’ll miss this place, I say. They broke into our flat here, remember, V says, and I do, remember it I mean. But I’ve also been very happy here.

We reach our pizzeria. The tiniest of places, half a dozen tables and the oven. A pack of waiters who always approach you in Italian and the best Calzone I’ve ever tasted. We order takeaway. There’s no room to wait inside, so we stand on the sidewalk by the terrace, sipping our half pints. It’s been the most beautiful of summers, hasn’t it? Remember when we used to come by this place with Carmen and the guys? She always managed to get us a table, wasn’t she something? I wonder what she’s doing now, V says, though we both know the answer to that. She’s gone back to Spain, she’s lost and found a couple of jobs, she’s been bruised and shaken by another man, yet she could probably still get us a table anywhere in the world.

We take our pizzas to the park. We sit in the grass. It’s thick and soft like the fur of a healthy animal, despite the hot summer we’ve been having. Maybe they replace it overnight V says, and I laugh. Here’s the reason I’m still rooted into this country. This green. Evenings like this, when people have their dinners in the field, telling their endless stories and drinking wine straight from the bottle.

We’re not happy, you know.

We both pretty much hate our jobs. Some of our closest friends are leaving the country, and as hard as I’m trying not to sound too fatalistic, we may very well never see them again. Things are changing with us. We’re hopefully but who knows getting a flat of our own soon, which will not only leave us penniless but tied to one another by things made of bricks and concrete which, who knew, are more difficult to undo than a metal band on your ring finger. It still scares me sometimes, years and years later, that I’ve found and been found and this is what we are now, a family of sorts.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we’re not OK, not entirely. That we’ve got worries and fears and pieces that don’t fit anymore, that we’re willingly or less so leaving places, and people, and hapinesses we wish we could keep, to make room for who knows what, really. And that’s terrifying.

We lie in the grass, oily pizza boxes piled by our side, passing a bottle of raspberry cider between us. It’s in this neighborhood that I first tasted cider years ago, around a wooden terrace table and a tea light in a jar, and I never looked back. We should get a dog, V suddenly says, his eyes following a tennis ball and a wagging tail. It’ll ruin our new carpeting, I find myself thinking, but it really doesn’t matter, does it?, we’ll replace it over night like they must do with the grass here, it’ll be just fine. We should, we’d be great dog people, I say. Then I shut my eyes.

Wet Is the New Black. Oh, And Other Slogan Worthy Personal Tragedies

Things I do these days, in between seducing teenage vampires and saving the world from zombies:

Sweating.

It’s been so hot in London these past couple of weeks, it’s almost felt like proper summer.

Of course, you know me, I’ve been moaning about the weather ever since I acknowledged the reality of several degrees of wetness, each infinitely sucky in its own way in this country. And yes, believe it or not, I’m used to 40°C summers and I’ve never been one to complain about too much sun, but have you tried making it through a 40 minute ride on the London Tube when it’s 28°C outside and what feels like at least twice that under ground?

No, of course there’s no A/C on the tube, are you kidding me? A/C would be for people who don’t enjoy being treated like cattle on their otherwise perfectly lovely 3 hours long daily commute. Suckers.

Today’s Londoners highly appreciate the impromptu sauna-with-strangers sessions. Who cares if you make it to the office in the morning drenched in what must be a gallon of other people’s sweat? Hydration’s meant to be good for the skin, right? And so what if your fellow commuters, feverish and delirious, drop like flies around you until you’re the only one left standing, and you’re too exhausted to press the emergency button (which between you and me, has probably melted into the carriage wall and won’t do sh*t anyway).

So yeah, it’s been hell. But I mean, you can’t really say you’ve lived until you’ve been sweat on by a minimum of three individuals simultaneously, so at least I’ve got that going for me which is nice.

Waiting.

Now, I’ve always thought of myself as a patient person. I’ve been known to take pride in the fact that I could amuse myself perfectly fine in any worldly situation. There’s always something interesting on my Kindle or on other people’s Facebooks to look at, and anyway, you can spend ages imagining yourself telling your fellow queuers/waiting room losers/super-duper-quality-music-on-hold what your really think of them and would never dare say out loud. So you know, it’s not so bad, this waiting thing.

Except lately, it’s all I’ve been doing. I spend my hours, 24/7, waiting and waiting and waiting and then waiting some more. I wait for my accountant, for my bank, for my doctor, for sleep, for the BBC weather app to actually get it right once, just once damn it. I wait in train stations, in coffee shops, on the phone, while I’m being sweat on, while I’m being ignored, while I’m being served steaming hot, delicious, double-portions of bulsh*t.

And you know what, all this endless waiting is apparently turning me into, guess what, a monster.

The other day I actually said YES to a nice lady solicitor who asked me whether I minded being put on hold for a couple of minutes. And it wasn’t one of those “Yes, I’m terribly sorry to be a pain. I usually luuuuurve waiting but I’m performing open heart surgery at this very moment so I’m in a bit of a rush you see”. Nope. It was more like: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking to waste my time, I can tell you I don’t have any. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you connect me now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”. Did everybody get my Liam Neeson reference? Good. I wasn’t sure we were into the same memes.

Hiding.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been particularly people friendly these past couple of years, but lately it’s reached this point where most people who know me assume I must have died a tragic, sudden death (Death by tube carriage steam cooking? There’s actually a nice sound to that, go figure.)

Long story short, I think I just need to be alone for a while. Or almost alone, because I’ve still got a couple of people I more or less hang out with. (A couple as in literally, two. OK, just one. And sometimes even that one’s imaginary.) It’s not too bad, really. I’ve been reading a lot, my flat’s squeaky clean all day every day and I’ve been walking the streets like crazy, 12,000 super duper fit steps a day, ever determined to get my catwalk figure back as soon as possible.

I’ll admit it, at times I get worried.

Like when E, one of my girlfriends from Uni who recently moved to London got in touch to meet up. I came up with what must be the world record for how many excuses you can fit in one text. So a couple of messages back and forth and she pretty much broke up with me before we even had our first date. Then a few days later, my friend R passed the link to my blog to a couple of her girlfriends, and when I found out about it I almost had a panic attack that they’d end up liking it and wanting to make friends. And the cherry on the top happened a couple of days ago, when I was reading about cat breeds online. We’ve been discussing getting a cat for a while, and I found myself looking not for the most playful/intelligent/flat-friendly breeds out there, but for the most famously unfriendly/shy/quiet/could-easily-pass-for-a-stuffed-toy ones.

Scary, I know. I should probably stick to potted, low maintenance (plastic?) plants for now.

In the meantime, I’m…

Loving this city.

London Street

Saturday

PS: Thank you so much for all your lovely messages while my blog’s been down. Panic attacks and all, I read each and every one of them and felt like a million bucks/pounds/bitcoins! You’re pretty great, if I say so myself.