Nap All Day, Sleep All Night

I haven’t had a day like today in a while.

After walking the beaches of Brighton and Hove for a few hours yesterday, then back to our place and an evening of red wine and horror movies, I turned to bed early and slept the sleep of the lighthearted.

I was the first to wake up in the morning, hot sun streaming in from windows on all sides of our flat, like our cosmic coordinates had changed overnight.

I unloaded the dishwater, made coffee, wiped the kitchen counters and sat watching the morning news in the living room for a while. Went online and browsed through the list of furniture pieces I’ve since forever been ogling with our guest bedroom in mind. I put off actually ordering anything, of course. “Add to Basket” is as far as I’m willing to go on my Sunday morning furniture safaris.

V woke up, so I made us scrambled eggs and avocado on toast, and we actually sat down for breakfast like shiny happy people in TV commercials.

After we cleared the table and changed the bedding in our master bedroom, he walked past my two-dozen-furniture-websites-open-at-the-same-time laptop, and bullied me into actually pressing “Checkout” for once. The world will not come to an end if we’ve furnished the last remaining empty room in our flat. My life will not lose its purpose once I’ll have no wood finishes to fantasise about. Things will be all right.

So I caved and finally ordered a bed, mattress, nightstands and a chest of drawers. Oh, and a rug for our living room while I was on it. Sure, we don’t really need one, but hey, who can say no to the absolutely most super-duper-sexy rug in the world? Not me, people.

Then, high on furniture splurging euphoria, I scrubbed our shower clean for the second (third?) time this weekend (Lemon juice did. not. work. But we’ve got a pro coming to look at it tomorrow, triple YAY!), did a bit of ironing, read fifty or so pages from Tracy Chevalier’s Burning Bright, and, wait… for… it… had a nap. As in, sleeping. In the middle of the day. For two and a half hours. Me!

Well, I’m up now and the world feels cosy enough to walk barefooted in. I dug out our tape measure, and measured our guest bedroom walls for the millionth time. It will all fit in perfectly and I can’t help smiling at the thought that a couple of weeks from now, we’ll be functional-guest-bedroom people, and everything will still be all right. More places to nap than ever, as well!

Off I go now, I’ve promised steak and sweet potato wedges for dinner and V’s been moaning he’s hungry enough to eat a horse all throughout me writing this post.

Wishing you all a lovely Sunday evening!

All Our Little Things

Picture this. Yours truly marching up and down the flat at 2 AM on Saturday night, green gooey face mask drying my T-zone into a crust, all the while fighting my tangled post-shower head with not one but two brushes, and squeezing my brains for an acceptable excuse not to have to get out of bed and traipse to central London in the morning.

– We could set the alarm for 6 AM, and Skype them that I’m unwell and puking all over the place or something. They’ll believe that, I look like I could start puking at anytime anyway, I’ve just got that kind of face, you know.

V was buttoning his phone in bed, entirely immune to my rambling, not even raising his eyes to face me with his now very familiar you’re-a-psycho look.

– OH!!! We could say I’m pregnant. They can’t hold anything against a pregnant lady, right? They can’t pretend I have to keep ALL my promises. I mean, I’m pregnant. I’m a carrier of life. I’m forgiven one lousy broken promise.

– You’re not a carrier of life.

I knew the battle was lost, I’d known it was lost all along. It was rude to cancel hours before the meeting. It was rude to pretend you’re pregnant to get out of an hour long tube trip on a Sunday morning. I was nothing but a rude disaster waiting to happen, I should consider myself lucky I had V around to guide me back to normalcy and good manners. And it had been my idea all along, going to the Royal Academy for the Summer Exhibition. Crazy, right? To top it off, what started as this couple of hours thing that I was dragging poor defenceless V into, eventually turned into a proper, official get together when a bunch of friends decided they wanted to go too. They didn’t really get art, they said, but it would be fine, I’d just teach them about it. Me! Pretend-pregnant lady, teacher of modern art.

Six hours of zombie-sleep later, I was marching up and down the flat untangling my bed hair and trying on summer dresses showing enough skin for what looked like it would be one of the two yearly days of summer we get in London, and covering enough skin for me not to worry about my wobbly bits. Half a dozen discarded outfits and a belgian waffle (wobbly bits don’t get wobbly by themselves!) later, we were finally out of the flat and on a Piccadilly Line train to Green Park.

During our first couple of years in London, V and I went to all the art exhibitions there were. Every Saturday we set off to visit another gallery, walk the streets and feast on steamy lasagnas and pints of strawberry cider in dark, loud Soho pubs. It was our thing, hanging out together, making fun of other people’s art, chomping on baked pasta varieties. Our weekend patterns have somewhat changed since, what with our Saturdays dedicated exclusively to entirely unartistic house hunting, and our Sundays a time of licking our house-hunting-related wounds and just lying there, like exhausted amoebas, waiting for the week to end. But I would change that, I for some deranged reason decided. I’d guide us back to our intellectual, artistic universe, and at all costs.

So here we were on this beautiful Sunday morning in the Royal Academy courtyard, messing around the jet fountains in an effort to cool our no-longer-used-to-summer-who-knew limbs. As soon as everybody arrived we stepped inside, and it was nothing like any other museum trip I’d ever been on, pretty much because on none of my previous ones did I spend my time talking very little about the art and infinitely about mortgages, fertility treatments and how there’s-no-love-after-marriage,-didn’t-I-know-that? I didn’t even have to turn my art-teacher mode on, no one really cared to know much about the exhibits, except for the prices I mean, and we each had a catalogue for that. Several £60,000?-And-I-can-paint-way-better-than-that! later, we walked out (shortest. museum. trip. ever.) into the sun and started towards Hyde Park, where the plan was to rent a bunch of those touristy bikes and do a couple of laps around the lake.

Note to self: gypsy skirt + bike, never a good combination. Suffice to say that half of Sunday’s Hyde Park population, including a bunch of innocent, defenceless toddlers, caught a full frontal view of my undies. But other than that there were no victims of my precarious cycling, and I actually enjoyed the trip, so much so that I would have kept at it for a couple of hours more, had everybody else not succumbed to hunger.

They’re strange, the dynamics of small groups of people trying to get through a day out together without judging each other’s life and topic of conversation choices. I’ve had my ups and downs trying to make friends in this country, and I’ve come to decide, as with most things apparently, that I’ve still got tons to learn. We seem to be, on our own or as groups of friends-strangers-and-in-between, permanent works in progress. It can be comforting to know that you can amend yourself and your relationships at any time but then, sometime’s it’s really tiresome how everyone and everything-we-feel/mean-for-eachother is so volatile. I can deal with friendships that somewhat change, but not so much with friendships that change out of friendships and into something else. Something else is rarely a good thing.

V and I decided to walk for a couple of stops on our way back, so we parted ways with the rest of the group in front of the Science Museum. They were in a hurry to make it to their Sunday afternoon naps, and as I’ve never had a nap myself unless I was really ill, I found myself judging them for cutting a day short to get a half hour’s worth of sleep. Can I be friends with an afternoon napper, I wondered. What if a group of British scientists discovered that all extraordinary, life changing things tend to happen precisely on Sunday afternoons, would I just miss those wonderful opportunities because everyone who voluntarily hangs out with me is having their nap? Or is that simply too much of a compromise to make?

We found ourselves walking down my favourite street in Notting Hill, where all the houses are painted white and everybody seems to live perfect, white painted lives, though I know they probably fight similar existential problems, like do you jinx it if you fake pregnancy to get out of a museum trip, or does it make you a freak if everybody else but you naps at the same time every day.

Of course it’s not about nap time, I swear it’s not (not even I’m that crazy to care about that). I’ve just been thinking about relationships of all kinds these days.

As I’m sitting here typing, in this white painted flat where life has never been perfectly white, my Spotify player is making its way through the Top 100 UK Tracks list. There are songs about girls wiggling their wobbly bits (on bikes?) and why-does-it-feel-so-good-oh-so-good-to-be-bad, and I normally don’t enjoy the mix and spend most of my time pressing skip than actually listening to anything, but today I’m either tired or into something new an superficial or both, so I don’t mind. John Legend starts his lovey-dovey All of Me, this all-of-me-loves-all-of-you…wait it goes on!…love-your-curves-and-all-your-edges-all-your-perfect-imperfections thing I’d probably never listen to unless I had my headphones forcefully glued into my ear canals. But it makes sense today, and it makes me sad. I’m past the point where I’m able to like/love people’s perfect-imperfections liberally. I’m aware it’s a problem (mine? theirs? ours?), but I’m tired and disappointed and I can’t pretend like everything can simply be painted over in quick dry paint.

Every time I come to a half epiphany these days, I end up wondering if it means I’m finally a grown up. I think I’m past that point too. I am a grown up, that’s a fact by now. It’s all about what kind of grown up I’m evolving into these days, and I guess it’s the kind who expects things in return. A fair treatment, a listening ear, a bit of effort, respect, all the things I’m willing to put in. It must mean I’m not selfless (any longer?), that I’ve got perfect-imprefections of my own. A vicious circle which will probably have me end up friendless, and then it won’t make any difference who’s napping when.

Days, Dissected

Thursday. Michelle comes over with this brown Marks & Spencer box large enough to fit a microwave oven. Open it, she giggles, and sets it smack in the middle of my desk, completely messing up the delicate Feng-Shui of my keyboard, hand cream and half eaten salad. Several Look, no water! slogans printed in green curly writing all over the box and I think, these people must be crazy, who’s ever heard of kitchen appliances being delivered with water on the side anyway.

It’s flowers. A bouquet half my size as thanks for helping her out with a project I’ve already forgotten about. You’re crazy, I say, and she smiles. People come over to smell the roses. Some comment on how far science has come. Waterless, can you imagine, soon we’ll be using time machines to go back fifty years and hit on Marilyn Monroe. All I can think about is that I’ll have to carry that tree of flowers home somehow, and strangers on the street will think it’s my birthday or something, and I’ll feel like I have to smile and look super duper happy, so that everyone can then look forward to their own birthdays, and perfect happinesses just like mine.

I leave the flowers under my desk in a Guinness pint filled with tap water, hardly trusting this waterless business. I’ll have to take them home tomorrow, V. and I have plans for the evening. We’re traveling to Sutton to walk the streets of what might or might not be the place where we’ll be buying a flat soon, and I don’t want to be doing it arms full of roses and a dumb, fake birthday-girl grin on my face.

On Thursday afternoons, Sutton looks deserted. V is late. I walk along the streets, past closed shops and packs of shrieking teenagers killing time. I go inside the local Morrisons, and slowly make my way along every aisle, looking at canned beans and fresh pastries. I buy a strawberry scented candle in a large lidded jar, and an Ideal Home magazine. I know I shouldn’t, I mean, I’ve already got a stack of them at home, hopelessly losing their shine and gathering dust on my nightstand. But one of the few things I find comforting these days is to spend my evenings scribbling little hearts next to pieces of furniture I like in the pages of interior design magazines. It’s the closest I get to feeling like I’m working on a home of our own.

V finally gets here and together we head towards the flat development, to have another look at the walls and the windows from the outside. It’s getting dark. He’s tired and doesn’t want to look at a million horrible-in-every-possible-way homes anymore, so he’s decided this is the one, and unless the ever advertised end of the world hits us in the next couple of weeks, we’ll just sign the papers and be done with this craziness already. I’m not convinced, and I say it often. Whenever I do, he looks at me with this heartbroken look and all I can think about is that I actually found myself a man to love, to really love, and somehow I can’t help making him unhappy.

*

Friday. If my mother knew this she’d pretty much disown me, but I don’t own a vase in this country. I have to improvise one out of a tall glass, and set the unstable flower contraption straight on the living room floor, leaning against one of my book shelves. They do brighten up the room, I realise, and vow to get a vase soon and who knows, maybe a bunch of freshly cut daffodils every once in a while from now on.

Once I’m done taking a couple dozen phone photos of the off-handed flower arrangement, I change out of my t-shirt and jeans work combo and into something slightly more dinner date appropriate, and run to meet V for a bite to eat at a nearby Persian restaurant. We’ve been eating out a lot lately which has put my grandiose diet plans on hold, but we’ve been way too tired to even consider opening the fridge in the evenings, never mind turning the hob on and actually attempting any semblance of dinner making normalcy.

The place is packed and we’re sat next to a bunch of heavily made up girls on a hen night out. I’m hardly hungry but V insists on ordering this huge, mixed grill platter for two we’ve never been brave enough to get before, as it looks like it could easily feed a family of four for a couple of weeks at least. We eat slowly, intimidated by the sheer quantity of grilled meats and rice, talking anything but money, houses and baby making, which leaves crazy silly things to chat about, like The Walking Dead, our friends’ innumerable flaws, and the shade of my nail polish.

We barely manage to make a dent in the food mountain, so we ask for a doggy bag. (Nope, we’re not embarrassed to do that, are you kidding me? We’re talking about enough food to last us for the rest of the month here!) The waiter comes back with a couple of empty plastic containers which he leaves in the middle of the table for the two of us to pour our leftovers in. I look at V, he looks back, and we both burst into laughter. Yet another thing we’ll be relieved to talk about from now on, when we don’t feel like discussing our scary future: super duper, do it yourself doggy bag etiquette.

*

Saturday. I’m off to meet M for lunch in Oxford Circus. We got in touch through my blog and it’s the first time we see each other, so as I tread along Oxford Street, silently cursing my way through the endless outpour of weekend shoppers, I wish I had the time to straighten my hair properly and retouch my nail polish. This matters to me for some reason, that I appear somewhat normal on the outside though my inside life is an utter mess these days.

I doubt I’ve ever talked about myself for so long. It scares me, really, that there are people out there who share my anxieties. It makes them feel more real somehow, my fears, more difficult to push to the back of my mind. Leaning over our plates, we talk things over. Unpleasant things, the likes of which V and I try so hard to avoid touching upon, out of a silly sense of relationship preservation. But this particular relationship is only just beginning, it’s good to get the nasty stuff out of the way first. And then we’ll go ahead and build a friendship on top of lipstick brands and celebrity gossip centered conversations. Hard work, this making friends business.

Three hours and a fair amount of giggling later (we’re the kind who laugh in the face of scary stuff, who would have thought), we part in front of Bond Street station. A million disoriented people and all their friends and relatives are still dragging their carrier bags from shop to shop, bumping into each other at every step, as though walking down Oxford Street functions by a totally different set of rules than walking down any other street, and it’s really my fault for not knowing that, and insisting not to disrupt the normal flow of pedestrian traffic. Normally I find it impossible not to absolutely loathe humanity when stuck for ages on a cramped sidewalk, but today is different. I’m actually feeling hopeful for some reason, and when the one inch a minute crowd pushes me past the doors of a Waterstones bookshop, I break free. Just one book, I promise myself, something to remember this day by.

I buy a collection of poetry by Billy Collins, something to keep on my nightstand for months and turn to at times of no new Ideal Home magazines in sight.

*

Sunday. 

Carry

I want to carry you
and for you to carry me
the way voices are said to carry over water.

Just this morning on the shore,
I could hear two people talking quietly in a row
boat on the far side of the lake.

They were talking about fishing,
then one changed the subject,
and, I swear, they began talking about you.

Billy Collins

Sun on a Saturday

 

These days, I feel old and young at the same time. Good old, so don’t worry. I know you’ve been reading my last couple of posts, about childhood friends and the past and missed opportunities, and are probably thinking I must be coming down with a case of the spring blues, but no. I think I may just be fine for now, as boring as that sounds.

It’s spring!!! I know, I know, exclamation marks are rarely necessary in these mildly exciting life stories of mine, but you know what, London in spring is the most extraordinary place, and I’d really need a million billion of these embarrassing little “!” to even begin to do it justice.

Our original Saturday plans (lunch with friends who aren’t really our friends but who we feel like we need to hang out with because we’re all Romanian and they just moved to London and are a bit traumatised by it all) fell through, so after breakfast V. and I got on the slowest bus in all of London if not on the planet, ready for a day of fun and games in Kew Gardens. Our Kew membership cards expire next month and we probably won’t be renewing them if we leave the flat, so I thought we might as well take advantage of our final no-entrance-fee couple of weeks. Conveniently, it’s orchid time in Kew these days, and the magnolia trees and daffodils are in full bloom, so you can imagine I was giddy with excitement.

Of course I’ll never admit this to my badminton nemesis V., but I was still a bit sore after a particularly soul crushing session on Friday. It didn’t stop me though from dragging him around the gardens for the larger part of four hours, as I ran to smell every flower and pose for what must have been a thousand super duper flattering and no doubt very natural looking photos, none of which, lucky you, I’ll be posting here today.

There were tons of people everywhere, families picnicking, kids playing ball or just running around chasing the geese, solitary artists sketching and painting under the magnolia trees, tentative if still long sleeve clad sunbathers sucking in the vitamin D, ice cream eaters, dog walkers and plenty of endless fields and pink petals to go around, so it didn’t really feel crowded at all, and V. and I had a chance to walk around and talk about all the embarrassing things I’d done during the week. Like how on Tuesday, after another traumatising flat viewing (thank God we didn’t take photos of that, you’d be scarred for life!), I just had to have a good old cry in the shower, cursing all flats, flat owners and estate agents in the world. Or like how I was walking to work one morning, reading (!!!) (Looks like I’m now pretty much addicted to exclamation marks, yay!), and a taxi almost ran me over and this random guy had to grab my shoulder and pull me back, a scenario I now experience at least three times a week. And let’s not forget about the time I called my mother to wish her Happy Mother’s Day (we celebrate it earlier in Romania), and she said she’d only be a happy mother once I’m finally married and pregnant with twins, then pretty much hung up on me. Fun. And. Games.

Before we left the garden, we stopped by the shop (Of course! It’s no like we’re saving for a new home or anything.) and I spent what must have felt like forever to V., looking at books, tea towels, handmade soaps and fridge magnets. I found a wonderfully illustrated hardcover edition of The Wind in the Willows, one of my favourite books as a child, which I almost bought, “for our kids”, before V. gave me one of his we-don’t-have-kids-yet-and-by-the-way-you’re-crazy look. I gave up on starting our descendants’ book collection and ended up buying not one, but two cookbooks, both super duper diet friendly or course (salads and chicken, and an exclamation mark!).

We wrapped the afternoon up with a late lunch at Ask Italian (I know, again? But V. was too tired and hungry to walk any further), where I tried to behave and stay true to my five-pounds-skinnier-or-bust plans, so I ordered the Chicken Caesar with a side of, well, water. By no means the Ask salad expert, I had no idea their Caesar is hardly a salad but this orgasmic crunchy crouton melted parmesan affair I soon gobbled up in a very unladylike manner.

With another badminton session coming up today (I lost. Again.), and a couple more next week, plus all the running around from one filthy, crazy expensive flat to the next, I’m not too worried about the thousand calories Chicken Caesar extravaganza though. I’m now off to conclude my lovely weekend with a sink of dirty dishes and half a pack of brussels sprouts I’ll no doubt transform into a Sunday dinner delicacy for one. In the meantime, have a look at some lovely photos V. took yesterday, and if you’d like to check my Weekend Away and Oxford on a Rainy Day posts again, I’ve uploaded some photos (also by V.) there as well.

Wishing you a great, brand new, exclamation mark worthy week!

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Oxford on a Rainy Day

When it comes to making plans together, it takes me and my friends at least a couple of days to pick a cinema or a restaurant. We start negotiating our weekend plans early on, on Tuesday or Wednesday, we fight about it for a couple of days, and by Friday night we’re back to square one, no compromise in sight and our friendship hanging by a very thin thread. I’ve always suspected adults are nothing but big boned, balding children, but this is ridiculous.

Before I go any further, I think it’s high time I introduced you to our weekend buddies. I’ll do it Amélie style, with likes and dislikes, because I’m cool like that. And lazy. (Don’t know Amélie? Go. Watch it. It’s got Paris streets and a travelling gnome.) So here it goes.

  • There’s Anda, a friend of V.’s from Uni. She likes: nature, geese, swans and complaining about how little money Dan makes. She hates: rain, cold, grass, walking and paying for anything.
  • Then there’s Dan, Anda’s husband. He likes: food, beer, TV and his living room sofa. He hates: Anda and everything Anda likes.
  • And then we’ve got Victor, a friend of mine from high school. He likes: food, beer, museums, castles and walking. He hates: girl talk and spending his weekends alone.
  • V. and I are easier to please I think, as the only thing we really hate is hanging out with couples who fight all the time.

By now you’re probably starting to get why it’s such a pain deciding on something to do together. At times I wonder why we haven’t given up already, but I guess the prospect of spending the rest of our weekends on this planet talking to ourselves in a funny voice, surrounded by ever growing packs of meowing cats, is more daunting than spending our weeks fighting about our weekends, and our weekends fighting about everything else. It’s a sad life.

Endless hours of Facebook bickering later, we finally decided long after midnight on Friday to spend Sunday together in Oxford. V. and I hadn’t been to Oxford yet, and we’d been meaning to go for a while, but the weather forecast for Sunday predicted the now customary weekend rains from hell, so I must admit I wasn’t jumping with joy at the thought.

On Sunday morning it thankfully seemed like the weather people got it wrong, so I invested a fair amount of time and effort into straightening my hair and picking my rather summerish, super duper feminine, perfectly color coded outfit. All was fine and dandy and V. and I were about to leave the flat (on time for once, go figure!), but one last look out the window and we discovered that within less than an hour the sky had turned pitch black. Dreading all the you’re-always-such-party-poopers! fighting, we didn’t dare even suggest cancelling the trip, but we did change into more rain from hell friendly outfits. Bye bye lacquered-flats-and-pretty-leather-jacket-one-must-keep-unzipped-to-show-off-the-lacey-top-underneath, hello mud-friendly-sneakers-and-unflattering-but-warm-and-fuzzy-hooded-windbreaker!

The plan was to meet the others at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, an 18th century baroque masterpiece situated a 20 minute ride away from Oxford. It had been Victor’s suggestion, him being so much into palaces and all, and I must say I was really looking forward to it. By the time we’d parked our cars it was already cold and drizzling, so Anda was moaning about how she never wanted to come, and Dan was repeatedly telling her to shut up. Fun and games.

The Blenheim domain is absolutely beautiful. Endless green fields, beautifully maintained 18th century gardens, several lakes and ponds and a stunning waterfall, and of course the castle, one of the most imposing buildings of its kind I’ve seen in this country, intricately decorated and furnished on the inside, and absolutely stunning on the outside. We did a fair deal of strolling around, all the fighting and rain considered, and V. and I plan to go back as soon as the weather picks up and the flowers are in full bloom. (Unlike some parts of London, the daffodils in Blenheim hadn’t open yet.)

As it was getting way past lunchtime, we all agreed on something for once, and took off towards Oxford to find ourselves a nice Sunday roast friendly pub. But the guys were so hungry they decided they wouldn’t survive the 20 minute drive, so we stopped what felt like a couple of minutes later on Woodstock Road, at The Turnpike. Granted, it looked like the loveliest British pub you’ll ever come across, and the parking was super crowded, so my wet blonde brain could only assume the food was splendid too.

The place was absolutely packed but minutes later we managed to get a table for five. Hungry as we were, we would have probably been OK with eating on our feet, but the table was a nice surprise. V. and I ordered the Sunday roast and shared an Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Tower for desert (yup, it tasted as good as it sounds, and this comes from a reluctant chocolate fan!). We couldn’t help bickering as we ate, which I truly hope helps digestion, or else these weekends are going to be the end of my ideally proportioned figure!

It constantly dawns on me that some of the friends I have in this country are probably not the people I’d have picked to hang out with back home (Victor is one of the few exceptions, of course; I’m a sucker for obsessive castle enthusiasts). I know it sounds bad in so many ways, and I don’t like to think about it too much. But the thing is, I like peace and quiet. I guess that makes me boring, and oddly enough, boring is something I can live with these days. What I seem to be unable to live with is spending all my free time among people who are constantly unhappy with their lives and each other. I don’t like couples who fight in public, trying to draw us spectators into taking sides. Perhaps I’m simply not used to it, as V. and I are not the fighting kind. Perhaps I’m not used to it anymore. I grew up in a family of fighters, and it’s taken me a long, long time to put it behind me.

When I mentioned it to Anda one time, that our hanging out together seems to involve more fighting than anything else, she replied that I couldn’t understand what it was all like, V. and I not being married and stuff. Maybe, I said, and we left it at that. I didn’t feel like unwillingly starting another fight.

We finally made it to Oxford early in the evening. It was really raining by now, and V. took countless photos of me in my hooded penguin outfit, urging me into acting more miserable but ending up making me burst into laughter every time. We walked for a really short while, as everything worth visiting was already closing and the married half of our gang were having another one of their heated conversations. We need to come back, I told V. as we were getting into our car.

When we’d finally made it home, I got mad at him for leaving his dripping wet hoodie on our butter colored armchair. I was preparing my mad-breakup-time voice and was going to absolutely rip his guts out for it, but I glanced at his laptop screen and guess what, he was looking for Oxford hotels online. No fighting tonight, I thought, coughing my breakup voice away.

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