Perhaps for the best, the flight back to the UK was less eventful than the one to Boston. The mildly disheveled gentleman next to me was asleep within five minutes of fastening his seat belt, and snoring quite robustly throughout the journey. Sadly, Amelia was not present again, but the flight attendant who was there offered me earplugs and a cocktail.
I accepted the earplugs, turned down the cocktail.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about the holiday, in hindsight. The trip had been a dream while I was there, of course, but—holy Christ—was I really better off having gone? Sure, I was over Mark’s thrusting bum, but after that last amazing night with Jensen and then his disappearing back into work, I felt dreary, like my best friend had up and moved to a city across the globe. And, worse maybe, the bar on decent blokes had been raised to a level that, sadly, I was unlikely to find passing through the streets of London, or anywhere, really.
Is that how it is when you meet The One? Do they raise the bar so impossibly high that you don’t even bother anymore? Jensen was fit, and tall, and clever. He was sexy in a secret way—where he gave it out in tiny pieces but turned into the most skilled and attentive lover behind closed doors. And . . . it felt like we fit. I was chatty, he was thoughtful. I was eccentric, he was classic. But when we came together, we worked.
Ugh, I hated when my thoughts turned into sentimental greeting cards.
I put in the earplugs and tried to think of anything else.
Avoidance, the lot of it. I had to face the reality of my life head-on. I had to decide whether I wanted to spin my wheels indefinitely in London, or . . . try something new.
When I thought of work, any sense of dread morphed into the imagined joy I would feel walking into Anthony’s office and quitting on the spot.
And when I thought of the Mums, I didn’t see them wringing their hands over the prospect of me moving away from home, I imagined how happy they would be for me if I had a Boston adventure, living there for a few years.
And when I thought of my flat, all I could feel was . . . nothing. No sentimentality, no sadness at the prospect of moving. Everything there—from the shaggy blue rug in the living room to the white duvet on the bed—was associated with the wilder days of my early twenties, or with Mark.
Mark, who had been so similar to me in so many ways. We had everything in common: a love for the pub on the corner, the tendency to get a bit drunk and sing loudly, louder than our tone-deaf voices warranted. We shared a fondness for color, and sound, and spontaneity. But it was such an easy routine, almost frivolous. It required nothing of me to live like that; a life without challenges.
When I stepped away from it all, I saw that my life in London was easy, but it wasn’t satisfying, and it wasn’t ever going to give me what I wanted.
Unfortunately, what I wanted right now was for Jensen to come for me, and to have a flat in Boston near a circle of friends with floppy-eared golden retrievers and children who dressed up as Superman and goblins. My life in London was stuck in days spent working at a job I hated and nights of pints and passing out on the couch. Ironic, maybe, that the holiday that seemed to change my outlook on drinking consisted of four days straight of wine and beer tasting followed by another nine days in the cabin full of board games and debauchery. It occurred to me that the reason my friends had been excited about what lay ahead after the trip was because they—unlike me—had real lives to return to.
Case in point: of the three hundred and twenty-six emails in my inbox when I returned, only three were from someone other than department stores like House of Fraser, Debenhams, or Harrods. No one had called me the entire time I was away, although Mark had come by and cleared out the pantry of most of the food.
I sat on the floor in my quiet flat, with my still-packed suitcase next to the door, and ate peaches out of the tin.
Was this rock bottom? This image of me, disheveled and unshowered from the flight, skirt askew for completely respectable reasons, eating my dinner on the floor? Is this how the authorities would find me, sprawled on the carpet, slowly being nibbled apart by rodents?
Maybe rock bottom was several weeks ago, when I walked in on Mark and his lover in my bed?
I should have been depressed that there were multiple rock bottoms from which to choose, but I no longer felt sad about that, or even angry. I felt hungry for something . . . something other than peaches.
I tossed them into the bin, walking into my bedroom. I didn’t even want to sleep here.
Resolution is an odd thing. In films, it looks like a startle, the dawning realization of an answer, and—finally—a smile aimed toward the sky. For me, resolution to completely uproot my current reality was more of a prolonged blink, a slumping of the shoulders, and an audible “Aw, fuck me.”
I’d planned to quit Monday, but once I was at work, I realized I wouldn’t be able to afford rent on my flat without gainful employment and should probably make sure it was okay with the Mums that I return home while figuring things out. Of course, they were over the moon.
“You want to move to Boston!” Coco said, clapping. “Honey, you won’t regret it. You won’t regret it at all.”
“You can figure that all out,” Lele said, curling an arm around my shoulders. “You’re our only kid. We can help you land on your feet.”
Anthony, my boss, was less cordial about it all.
“Where are you off to, then?” he’d asked Tuesday morning when I’d worked up the nerve to enter his office and break the news.