London in the sun reminds me of ants frying under a magnifying glass, the scurrying more furious, the collective need more desperate. Unless you have a garden or sit very still in the middle of an unpopular park it is unbearable. I escaped with a poorly H to my parents' house but, despite the rolling fields, there is no breeze whatsoever and the spindly spiders that hang for dead in the corners of the least used rooms have collected quite some feast of tiny flying insects, caught in a webbed row like miniscule birds on a wire. I watched them from the loo seat, they do not move and they are not eaten. Perhaps they are being stored for the inevitable winter. Do spiders think ahead like that? Do they even live that long? Maybe the spider is dead and I had been looking at a museum of wasted triumphs.
The heat from the day has collected around the house like smoke in a Brownian Motion display; the bedrooms are like cauldrons. H has been stripped of all clothes and is lying on his bed, already with a fever, and I feel like I'm on the set of some southern American plantation movie, fanning myself on the porch, swinging gently on a hammock and moaning about how hot it is, although I'm actually smoking in the garage and raiding the fridge for cold things.
It feels as if the windows should be steamy, like a low level sauna. My mother and I flop about on the sofas like decadent wives with our husbands out at war. It is almost too much effort to pour a drink. We eat take-away chinese, too hot and lethargic to cook, and I lament how much take-away food I have eaten this week. I have not been to the gym for 4 weeks, either.
Soon my friend V and I will fly away for some non-UK sun, but before then: Date Four !
....was highly anticipated. Subconsciously, I had passed him on a test I didn't realise I probably always set up for anyone I want in my life in an intimate way: he had put up with me drunk and babbling. Not blubbing and mental, but emotional enough to be vulnerable and easy to exploit. And he hadn't exploited or run. He was someone I thought I could take a bit more seriously and while the last few dates had been innocent and casual, light hearted and fun, it felt like this next one was going to be a step closer together and possibly forward.
And it was, in both good ways and bad. We stopped talking about the superficial things we like and our opinions on mutually loved subjects and on to ourselves and each other. The measured way you try to let out truth but hold back the baggage; the little by little sharing of pains or pleasures; the small secrets, tentatively divulged, the admission of discrepancies. The wine lubricated us well but it ended in tears, my tears.
Back at his spooky house, the atmosphere was strained, weird even. I couldn't relax there, it felt dank and depressing, I felt like I was caught, hostage, although he was gentle and calm. It's a very run down house, unloved and miserable, haunted, even, but by him. I felt bleak and the conversation moved way too fast into wanting me to stay the night and suddenly I was actually scared. I didn't want to stay the night, I didn't want to be talking about if I would or wouldn't stay the night. Because the minute that topic was raised for debate, I found I had only negative answers, for several reasons, but mainly that it was way too early to think about anything more serious than an already intense and personal night. And I knew in the back of my heart that I didn't fancy him enough, and yet kissing had been great and fun and wanted.
I ran off in a cab and woke up with a mildly depressed feeling. I checked my phone to see what he might have to say about the situation, but it was blank. I didn't feel like initiating any further dialogue.
H's dad came early and I had the magic feeling of nowhere to go. Then he text me: is it just me or did you also wake up feeling depressed and confused? It was a passive aggressive's way of saying let's clear that mess up from last night, I assumed. The sunny day shone into me and I suggested we meet up.
And it was a gorgeous day, a day for cycling and drinking mildly and being glad to be alive. Which we did. All day talking and laughing and ranting and cycling and drinking a bit and eating and making good the weirdness of the end of the night before. But then we went back to his house again and I felt the energy and sunlight drain out of me. He kindly suggested he left to buy me more cigarettes but I couldn't bear to be alone in there and so went with him and paid for his cigarettes, sort of guilty of my mind.
This week, most prosaically, I just thought, no, not for me. Not really the house, but that didn't help, but many, many other tiny things that don't matter by themselves and actually don't matter collectively, but become the only things you can grasp at to explain to yourself why whatever the fuck it is, isn't there.
And I have been shit about articulating these things to him. I blew him out twice this week, and yet for genuine reasons. But I didn't offer him enough to stop him being able to read between the lines. He'd said previously that he thought 'we amuse each other'. It was nice to hear his take on our situation. And I think I agree when I get called commitment phobic (but that wasn't by him).
It's usually the intellectual spark that starts the fire; I am not interested in money or size or popularity, just articulation of emotion, sensitivity and compassion. Humour, of course. Beauty and strength. And in fact he had all of those things.