The Search for Love…

I’m single, and looking for love. I’ve tried the night out clubbing thing, and decided it’s not for me. Generally you meet people who want sex, not love. And as I’m not really a clubber, why would I want to meet somebody who could potentially be into clubbing a lot?

I don’t want to meet anyone at work; it’s never good to mix work and pleasure. Exciting, yes. But not a smart thing to do.

So what does that leave? Tesco?! Do I really hope to find love there? Maybe brushing fingers with a suitable single man as we both reach for the last Meal for One? I really don’t see that happening any time soon!

I decided some time ago to enter the ever-so-surreal world of online dating. And since that decision was made, I’ve tried quite a few different sites – which often feature a lot of the same people – and met quite a few weird and wonderful men.

One in particular stands out. We first started talking about a year ago, and we hit it off straight away. We instant messaged, moved on to texting, and then to phone calls. It was a great time for both of us; we got on so well. The only thing wrong was that he lived too far away for a relationship to really be practical. We both knew it, talked about it, but still kept chatting, none the less.

One of the things we started chatting about more and more was meeting up for a weekend. We were both single so there seemed no harm in it. Eventually we planned a weekend in London together. He booked the hotel, we both got the train there and met at the station. And it was perfect. He was such a gentleman; he treated me like a princess all weekend, held doors for me, looked after me on the tube (I love the tube, and would have been fine on my own, but it made me feel special having him take care of me), he took me to a lovely restaurant for dinner, we went to the cinema, then after we walked through Leicester Square. It was November, so the Christmas lights were up, and it was truly magical. Not once during the whole evening was he not touching me in some way: holding my hand, arm around me, arms linked. I’d never felt so complete before. And haven’t since.

He is the benchmark I measure all first dates against, which is crazy as I know none will measure up.

The thing is though, I worry that the fact that I have done it makes me look desperate. And like a slut. I knew we didn’t have a future, but we got on so well and I wanted to feel special for a while. I don’t tell that many people about that, and a few other things I’ve done over the last two years. Scared of being judged I guess, which is something I think about a lot.

I told a very good friend about this last night, and his response surprised me. And made me think about it in a completely different way:

“Wow that sounds amazing. Didn’t you see him again? Your life sounds really cool to me. Really different and exciting – you are not afraid to take risks especially with your love life and that’s amazing to me.”

Since I received the above text I can’t stop thinking about it. Do I judge myself too harshly? Am I too self-critical? I worry so much about judging others; maybe I should cut myself some slack.

(Just in case you were wondering, I didn’t see him again. It was what it was, one fantastic weekend, and I’ll never regret it. We keep in touch by email – just as friends. Neither of us wants to let go completely, but we both know this is how it is.)

The World of Books

Image

The best thing my gran ever did for me was take me to join the local library when I was 9. It wasn’t long before it became a weekly visit, every week I’d leave laden down with the maximum 8 books, and return the following week, all would be read and I’d be eager for more.

I read about animals, pirates, aliens – in fact, I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read about love, about hate, jealousy and trust. I learned which of those I wanted in my life. I explored desert islands, planets I’d never heard of, make believe worlds of elves and dragons and so many more weird and wonderful places.

To me, every unread book was an adventure waiting to be had. Inside the cover was a passport to another world. One I could visit whenever I wished. And the best thing about it was the world would stay with me long after the book was returned to the library. It was mine.

My childhood was fairly lonely; I grew up in a very small village with hardly any children of a similar age. Books were my refuge. They became my friends. Sometimes during the long days of summer I would get in 10 hours of reading per day. I would immerse myself in the book during the day and then dream about it at night.

Sometimes I was so taken by the world I had entered, that I tried to draw it; to capture it as I first found it. Alas, I’m no artist. But it didn’t matter. As a child it was the best homage I could pay to the creator of my new world.

Even now, I can come across a book I haven’t read for 20 years and reading it again is like catching up with somebody I once shared my life with.

My collection of books isn’t as big as it once was. I’ve tried to slim it down but my favourites will be there forever. There are books that comfort me after a hard week. Books that can give me that sometimes needed slap of perspective. Books that can hold me when I’m lonely.

There are so many places I’ve visited; I’ve seen famines in Ethiopia, genocide in Rwanda. I was in Derbyshire during an outbreak of the plague. I was in Castle Rock when a clown started taking children. I was with Anne Frank on 4th August 1944.

People talk about your life flashing before your eyes in near-death situations. What will I see? Will it be my own life history? Or will I see all the adventures I’ve been allowed to enter? I hope with all my heart that it’s the latter.

And the best thing about books? I will never run out. Authors all over the world are making brand new adventures for me every day. I’ll always have somewhere to escape to.

Summers of our childhood

A few weeks ago somebody asked me: “were summers long and gorgeous when we were kids, or are we just remembering them too fondly?”

At first, I thought “Yes, they were glorious; full of endless sunshine and fun”, but I’ve since given it a lot more thought.

I know, I can’t argue with the facts. Rainfall has been a lot higher in recent years, and that’s backed up by the MET Office. But the summers of our childhood can’t really have been perfect, can they?

As a kid the days take forever to pass. Waking up on the first day of the summer holiday, all you can see is summer, stretched out before you, almost an infinite anount of days. And every day is full of possibilities and adventures.

I used to go on countless bike rides, passing through all the local villages, and while I mainly remember doing this in the sunshine, if I really dig for old memories I remember there were times when I was out on my bike miles from home, when suddenly I was caught in a huge thunderstorm. I suppose the difference is as a kid I was exhilarated by it. It didn’t bother me at all pedalling through torrential rain – it was just part of the adventure.

As a kid I didn’t stress about my hair being ruined. There was no worry about mascara running. Not a thought was given to my clothes being wet through. It was just fun. Pure, unaldulterated fun.

As an adult we regard rain as a fun-stopper. We give it far too much importance, so it’s no wonder we dwell on the bad days of summer too much.

Similarly, as a child I used to have days where I played with the huge crate of Lego I shared with my brother, retreated into the world of books, or played on our treasured Spectrum 128k. Looking back, these days spent indoors were probably encouraged by bad weather. But the difference is I found other fun stuff to do. I had different adventures. I still had fun.

As adults, it seems we forget that you don’t have to go out to have an adventure. As soon as the weather turns inclement we grumble about our ruined plans – but don’t stop to make new ones. Often our time off of work is limited; we have perhaps 2 weeks to have a pre-arranged amount of fun completely dependent on good weather. When rain stops play we remember the whole summer as a disappointment.

Maybe the summers of our childhood weren’t as golden as we remember. Maybe we just used them better.

9th August 2012