I think I’d been crying for a good five minutes before I realised. I wiped away a stray tickle on my cheek, and the sleeve of my jumper came away damp. I looked down to see my friend’s hand on my arm. Are you okay? she whispered. I shook my head. I wasn’t.
I felt sick, and dizzy. She took me by the wrist to lead me up the stairs as I kept my head bowed low, eyes fixed to the ground, tears now freely gushing. We pushed past the crowds and crossed the road, nearly walking into the path of a black cab in our hurry. In an alleyway I threw my coat and bag and glasses down onto a plant pot, and let out a yelp, a huge gasp for air, for relief. My friend rubbed my back and told me I’d be okay as I stared at the sky and willed myself to stop sobbing. It didn’t work.
Dramatic is my middle name- after verbose and attention-hungry- and I know how it sounds to say that this, but the sobbing and the hiccups and the inability to breathe? It happened at the theatre.
Passion Play at the Duke of York is the best piece of drama I’ve ever seen on stage, with a cast so perfectly chosen and a production so magnificently orchestrated that I felt every doubt, every wonderment, every confusion of the story as if it were my own.
In fact, as the story of a middle-aged couple torn apart by lies and infidelity unfolded, it wasn’t just my own hurt I was thinking of. By the last ten minutes of the production, my head was swimming with memories of all the hurt. You know. Like, ever.
I’d intended to write this post about dating, about how I’m excited to be diving head first into actively finding a friend who will also put his penis inside me. But Friday night knocked the wind out of me. It made me think that I don’t know if I’m brave enough anymore. I don’t know if I can put myself through the risk of la douleur exquise when, quite frankly, it’s so extraordinarily hard to exist as a two and I’m doing quite fine alone anyway, thankyouverymuch.
I don’t understand how people can be so goddamn awful to one another. Watching the heartache and drama on stage, I thought of myself, of course, because oh haiiiii narcissism. But I also though of every single family member- and there are multiple- who has been broken by somebody else’s selfishness or betrayal. Friends who have been lied to and cheated on even when they were engaged or married. I thought of boys that have kissed me when I didn’t know they had girlfriends, men who have slipped off their wedding ring to buy drinks for the girls at the bar. I’ve read other bloggers’ stories of unfaithfulness experienced, received emails from people who have read my story and want to tell me their own.
We can be real dicks to each other.
And I keep re-writing this because I don’t want to sound like I hate men. I don’t. My brother is my best friend, and my actual best friend inspires me every day. I have a handful of boy mates across the globe of whom I think yes. Any woman would be blessed if you decided to be in their life and occasionally- very occasionally- I even hold hands with ones I might like to think about daring to hope about. Maybe.
But there seems to be so much awfulness around, so much shitty behaviour and lying and fibbing and truth-twisting that even though I wanted to tell a story about how, actually, I’ve had an epiphany whereby actively dating and seeing what romance might happen, rather than, you know, sitting in front of the telly and wondering why nothing romantic happens, Imma get out there. Feel the fear and do it anyway. FACE MY EMOTIONS AND THAT TINY PART OF MY HEART THAT SAYS YES! INVEST IN LOVE!
But then there’s so much evidence to the contrary, so much stacked up against the chances of ever having a relationship that ends happily, that as my friend and I walked arm-in-arm though the West End in search of a bus home, I found myself saying, I don’t think I believe in love.
That’s a lie. I do. I think what I meant to say is that I don’t believe in love that doesn’t end, and a bit shittily. And I know all the songs and films and shows and fairy tales that tell us we have to believe because the alternative is just too damned depressing, but that play, on Friday? It made me want to stop trying.
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