I stumbled out of the spare room into Gin Operated’s kitchen around half ten, having been woken by Minor Celebrity’s text.
“Oh, you’re here!” As if by reflex, she took a large mug from the cupboard and filled it with tea. “We thought you’d, um… not come back.” There was a faint smirk. “We didn’t hear you get in last night.”
“Oh, I came back,” I said, yawning. I tightened the loaned dressing gown around my waist and rubbed a hand under the still smudgy eyes. “Definitely came back. Nothing quite like getting a 6am cab and being looked at like a slut by the taxi driver…”
“So, did you have a good night?”
I took the extra-strength tea (with sugar) from her with one hand, and scratched the cat - sitting happily in his basket under the boiler - with the other.
“Huh,” I said. “Eventful, definitely.” I took a large swig. “So, MC thinks he and I should get back together.”
“Ah,” Gin Operated said, somewhat raining on my parade by appearing totally unsurprised. “Well, I did think something like this might happen.”
“Did you?!” I said, once again bemused by my total inability to see what other people apparently assume is obvious.
“Well, yes. I thought that it might be on the cards after that conversation you had with him at Hogmanay.”
I thought back to sitting in the pub, being told by MC that he wanted to get married and settle down, but just couldn’t find the right person. I had no inkling that he might have been hinting it was me.
“The thing is, I just don’t see how it could ever work,” I said to Gin Operated as we traipsed into the sitting room with breakfast, mine soaking up remnants of pink champagne and awkward discussion.
And I don’t. There are so many things that count against us.
There’s the age gap - although it’s not particularly eyebrow-raising, it’s enough to put us firmly in different phases of our lives.
There’s the distance gap - being 400 miles apart isn’t particularly conducive to a happy relationship when one party is already insecure if the other is as far away as the other side of the bed. Though, as Gin Operated pointed out, if we really wanted to be together, the distance probably wouldn’t get in the way. As it is, I'm inclined to use it as a reason to be added to the ‘why it won’t work’ list.
There’s the sobriety gap - I have no problem with people using whatever substance it is that gives them a buzz; it’d be hypocritical, given my penchant for a slug of decent red wine, or a large gin and tonic. But when the substance takes over the person to the extent that they’re sometimes deeply boring, or - worse - deeply frightening, then it’s time to call it quits.
There’s also the simple fact of my selfishness: I don’t want to spend the rest of my life known as Mrs Minor Celeb, rather than on my own merits - and I’m not naïve enough to believe it would ever be otherwise (although the thought of being able to move back to Edinburgh and never have to worry about working again is sort of tempting).
And on a wider issue, I just don’t see that our relationship would or could be markedly different to the way it was last time with all its ups, downs and flaws. I never felt I really knew where I stood, and he feels that I was always cold and distant. It didn't really work the first time and I don’t see that either of us has changed sufficiently to make it work a second. It's the definition of insanity, after all, to do the same thing over again and expect different results.
And so, over tea and tiredness, I came to the conclusion that however much I care about MC, I care about myself more - and being by oneself is always better than being in the wrong relationship.
Hunanese Hot & Sour Soup
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