Bristol

Another Summer gone. Mum seems to hate it more every year when I say goodbye and disappear down the drive waving and just wanting to leave – to get the moment over and done with. God, how many times and for how long have I been doing that? Since I was 8 and it still tears something inside. And then it’s OK. It’s back to me. Always back to me and the one person I always end up with. The one we always end up with. At the end. But, I like it. At this time I like it. Once again I’m moving, not sitting around, not questioning myself or accusing myself or thinking about what I should do next. Just in motion. And I do love the Summer but this bit is just as good. When the light is softer and the wind fresher, it speaks more to me of adventure. Of opportunities.

So back to the city. Back to my flat. It was perfectly clean when I got back. Karim must be away. He’s often away. Either in London at his flat or staying with his girlfriend in France. I DO like it here. I wasn’t sure on the drive back. Would I be edgy here? It’s happened a lot before and only because sometimes I have to be here a lot on my own, working. And my hyperstate. I want to be doing doing the whole time not just ‘being’ at home doing gentle, thoughtful stuff. Must improve on this. But I have a list for my return. It looks something like this:

Haircut, meetup, blog, Cardio, bath. Christ, making lists is going to become a way for me to stave off my fear of wasting time. Where does that deep seated fear of non achievement dome from? Any psychoanalyst worth their £60 per hour would delve deep into my relatively-abnormal-by-modern-standards upbringing and dredge up all that shit from the murky depths of 80s all boys’ boarding school education: how I was labelled ‘lazy’ or ‘sleepy’ or ‘vacant’, how I looked like a ‘shot pheasant’. I was often getting into quite serious trouble and genuinely riling up adults without even knowing it simply because I was daydreaming. It’s something I’m still prone to now. I really wholeheartedly lose my concentration as I get stuck in a thought imagining something else. I don’t even realise I’m doing it. “I know you weren’t listening” I’ll hear someone say. As a boy, especially in Summer, my name or sometimes a board rubber was hurled across the classroom at me as I thought about the sunlight in the trees outside. Yet again, I would find myself thinking ‘What’s the problem? What’s going on?’ while a red-faced old man would rant and snort behind his desk.

Yes, so much emphasis on trying one’s best and pushing yourself and being a part of a team and clearly I wasn’t cut out out for that. For all 8 years of it I felt like it could be one enormous mistake made by my parents or possibly a prank that went way too far. Nothing about it ever felt at all normal – it really wasn’t – but all the time I thought it might until I got fed up, decided to leave and got asked to leave before the end of term. And that has added to it,surely. Never succeeding at school. And eventually getting kicked out – feeling guilty – and then always feeling a bit lost. What was I supposed to be doing? Here I am, 25 years later still none the wiser how to answer that question but wandering at night, searching, looking for something that sparkles in the grass with a damp box of matches.

And now it’s evening – 6.20pm – and the sun’s out and Karim’s on the sofa watching Game of Thrones and I still need to DO. Had a swim. Had the haircut. tried to yank hair out of the plughole (without much success), organised the meetup, written a load of crap and now need to find something else. A walk?

Meanwhile I have a near full time job attempting to meet girls. It was going great until a few months ago. I had 2 exciting European girlfriends in the space of a year and i felt like I could no wrong and then suddenly ______________________________-flatlining. I read somewhere that isn’t actually what happens to a monitor in hospital when someone’s heart stops beating but it looks good on the screen. Anyway, my ability to attract seems to have breathed its last breath. Aside from the dating websites and apps (now they do take up a lot of my time) there’s the meetups and the tennis sessions and the yoga and the sailing trips. I am in the process of trying to shake off the air of desperation that I must present and get myself into a place where I don’t need or pine after girls. All Summer I’ve been trying to devise a mantra. Nature not naughtiness. Not chicks but ‘the sticks’.  Treks instead of sex. Hmm..you get the gist..

And all the time I’m thrown off the path by meetings with lovely girls but, drawn in and over keen, I get it wrong. Of course I totally see it from girls’ perspective – they have moved to a new place, they’re keen to meet people and make friends. I, being a man, see it as possibly leading to something else, even though there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, but we persuade ourselves there’s a possibility of something other than doing something fun or having some friendship: a look, a smile, a word – these can be imbued with all sorts of hidden meanings and take on a value completely out of kilter with reality. Like Benedick’s misguided affections for Beatrice: “Ha! “Against my will, I’ve been told to bring you in to dinner.” There’s a double meaning in that.” We’re all guilty of it.

This has started to get out of hand. Like I said before, I seem to have forgotten my age or maybe I can’t accept my age. It’s because I feel no different. And the lines are starting to appear and the hairline is slowly eroding. I go to my weekly tennis sessions. I love it. The game, the setting and the social element. It’s a random bunch – all sorts, all ages, all abilities and that’s what I love about it. It’s fun, not serious – a chance to do some exercise but have a good laugh over an hour. Then, a few months ago, she arrived, like she should have been walking onto a tennis court in Beverly Hills. Lines in Lycra. Long flowing limbs and blonde hair in a pony tail and a smile that could break something deep inside a person.

Even after I discovered she was 25 years old, persuaded by memories of her smiles and glances, I still try to meet her outside the group tennis fitness sessions to have a game. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this at all. I want to play tennis. I want to get to know a new person who lives close by. What’s the problem? And she’s keen. She wants to meet. But it doesn’t quite happen. Every time we arrange it, it starts raining. Then last week she wasn’t feeling well. And I wait, like a puppy, waiting for the message with my heart in my mouth. I never learn.img_2669

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