behind schedule

A couple of weeks ago I believed I was on the cusp of change.  I may still be, but one man has stalled everything: my plans, my month, my summer and my life, potentially by up to a month.

I had to restrain my jaw from dropping as I walked around his beautiful waterfront apartment, the place he was leaving and needed to find a tenant for.  A burly, rugby playing mountain of a Welshman, when he opened his front door, I puffed myself up to my full height and testosterone, pumped his hand and communicated in a manly, assertive way.  I think it was convincing enough.  I immediately made him an offer to rent the flat, which he deferred a decision on until others had viewed it.

Later that weekend he called and accepted and I paid him a hefty deposit online, which he then claimed not to receive.  And is still claiming not to have received, well over a week later.  That is, on the rare occasions when he responds, mainly by text message.  I have emailed evidence of payment from my account.  He says he is checking it with his bank.  I have no idea if I’m being conned.

In this limbo period I’ve felt curiously more optimistic about London, perhaps due to feeling that my time here is limited.  Outside of the professional obligations which I will maintain, there’s a lightness I hadn’t felt up until now, almost a new found demob happy fatalism, like when you leave a job.  I’m out, off, away, nothing matters (I think).

Having a deadline, and end-point helps to eek you out of any rut, it gives you a target and makes you hopeful for change.  Having that deadline uprooted and vaguely waved in the air, placing you in limbo: it’s unsettling, but strangely exciting.  Anything could happen: I could still stay or go, leave or stay.  For a person bereft of general direction, it feels like no great sea-change.

That faintly humiliating incident last week was punctuated by my usual mopey mourning for a while, because I realised I did genuinely like her:  smart, sassy, funny, apparently engaged by me for a few hours.  But also, it turned out, married: a major drawback.

After giving myself a stern talking to, I felt freed and unshackled, momentarily buoyed by the fillip that comes from someone like that being willing to give you their attention, their evening.

Fuelled by that, I decided to attend one of the random social group meetings I’d seen online and had one online email account sporadically spammed by.  I had spurned and mocked it before; it would be full of social rejects wouldn’t it?  The transparently friendless; why else would you attend an event like that?  Is it strange for me to try and make new friends when I’m planning to move away?

Screw it.  I was vaguely bored and leaving town soon (probably).  This meeting was only a short walk away, at a pub which would have live music and France-Uruguay and, being a pub, alcohol.

Yes there were dickheads and social rejects and weirdoes and crazy women and those who dripped emotional baggage.  But there were a small handful who were actually all right and digits were swapped.

The following evening I went to a loud, massive bar to watch the England game with one new friend: a good looking personal trainer and former professional dancer.  Early to mid thirties, a surfer dude look, definitely heterosexual.

How on earth did this man not have girls falling over themselves for him?  His Facebook friendstream must be awash with stunning candidates.  I asked him directly and he said sure, there had been loads, but not now.  It was hard.

I didn’t know whether to draw hope from him or consider myself even more doomed, if someone like him was struggling, a dancer and personal trainer, then how…  HOW?!

We got drunk together, glanced hopefully at girls together and swapped tales of the single life – his more successful than mine.  But we were turned away from all decent establishments in the area because of our modest football colours, and parted at a respectable hour.

Freeness to Do and not sweat about consequences feels alien; a reflection of a unique timeframe which will be punctuated by football matches and getting or not getting scammed over a flat, before being embedded in memory at the passing of the season.


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