It happens every time. I blab on about tampons or Turkish delight or baby corns, ‘you know, they look like little mielies, like little baby corn on the cob thingys’ (gesturing the love child of a box of matches and a minuscule party hat). The store assistant slumps in front of me, unmoving, hair net squashed lazily on their head.
We go out after work with our single friends when we feel slightly needy (even when you girls call it girls’ night, I’m weirdly hoping I’ll find Mr. Right even though I know I won’t—no love story starts with Lil Wayne and strobe lights). We put on tight little black dresses and the most uncomfortable stilettos we could find, all in hopes of getting attention from Mr. Right.
But this isn’t about me, now is it? Let’s get down to the real grit and grime of why I’m here. This is about you and the things we’re going to need to work out if and only if I decided to attend you for the next four years. For starters, none of this ‘no smoking’ crap. We’re big boys now. I think we deserve the right to decide if we do or do not want to slowly kill ourselves.
So my ex is over. At my house. For the first time since the first time after a long time. Only three days after the first time after a long time. We shouldn’t be here really. I’m making tea and telling him about how I have a blog now. He’s calling at me from the lounge. His new job pays less but it’s fewer hours and he’s actually really connecting with the kids.
In the morning, these trains are dull and akin to anyone’s subway or bus commute, if fueled by a bit more aggressive energy due to the commute’s length. At night, as commuters, having worked all day, wait out the train ride to get home and entertain themselves with socializing, drink, and who knows what else, things get weird.
Pat your love interest’s head when they say something you approve of. Pet the underside of their chin and whisper four letter words like “soft,” “nice,” and “face.” Lie on the floor listening to “1979” by the Smashing Pumpkins and make irrelevant commentary about forest animals before making out. Wait till the song ends before moving to the bed.
Book clubs—the phrase alone conjures up the taste of white wine and melty cheese cubes and a vision of copies of The Deep End of the Ocean, only the first halves even slightly perused. We can thank Oprah for this template, despite her best intentions, but it’s also kind of a primal urge to get together and drink, and a slightly-less primal urge to conceal this liquoring-up behind the veneer of literature.
In Europe I learned many important life lessons. I learned that I don’t like one night stands. That spending the day munching on tapas and reading Patti Smith’s memoir in a local cafe, can be just as crucial as spending the day photographing every inch of the Sagrada Familia.
Fuck unrequited love. The gnawing. The possessive desperation. The ache of unknowing, worsened only by the slow-dying thud of knowing for sure. The over-commercialized but no less real feeling that you will die, you will just DIE.
Kidman is, of course, slavishly well-shot and edited and given a million plum moments in the film, so I guess my appreciation of her was incidental, but it was real! She was everything an actress is supposed to be – surreal and fantastical but recognizably an actual person.