I took a short trip to the Czech Republic on my week off, I spent a couple of days in Prague and then a few more days out in the Czech countryside. It was lovely to get away from the hustle and bustle of the West End and immerse myself in some culture. It’s nice to explore somewhere new and to be in a city where you don’t have an identity.
Happiness is not all encompassing and all consuming but rather it is a steady ebb and flow of warmth through your body. It does not shout, nor attempt to tear you down. It has not the need to hide in the cracks of your inner crevices waiting for the right moment to crawl out of the woodwork. It just flows freely and unashamedly.
Happiness is like a thick and heavy summer afternoon in August in London. The kind of heat that keeps us hopeful with its promises of long days and exciting adventures. That’s the best kind of happiness because, like summer in London often is, it is broken up with spells of showers that are delicate reminders of a certain balance to the universe. But where depression grounds you, happiness let’s your soul flow freely.
It’s easy to say “I’m happy”, far easier than to admit that you are sad, or depressed. For happiness is often seen as finite. That showers will come, like they always do and break through that residue of happiness. We do not see happiness as a state of mind but a temporary paralysis, albeit a pleasant one. After all, if we all wake up to a conveyor belt of trials and tribulations, how can we think of ourselves as… truly happy?
And yet, I remain hopeful, and happy. Because after grief and sadness tear me down, there is always hope, there is always a glimmer of happiness, however small. That ebb and flow.
I think of depression like grief… It’s sticky. It’s that annoying sticky stuff that gets left over when you peel off a sticker and you need to rub a couple of times to get the last of it off… and even then it is just sometimes… there.
It finds its way to cling to the underside of your daily routine, always there, always… sticking. And more often than not the days and weeks will pass like in a monotonous blur and nothing much happens. All the while depression will just sit there quietly. And then one day you find yourself waking up in a cold sweat crying because you’ve fallen down an effortless spiral; without warning, without much choice. There it is dragging down and there it lies like thick black sludge.
And then it’s Tuesday again and all of that stickiness seems to have washed away overnight and I’m walking down the street again and it seems like the rain just washed my feelings down the drain so effortlessly. And as I watch all these wonderfully content people pass you by, I think to myself “I could have done that.” But then again, I didn’t.
Unmade Bed by Joe Gerhard – Dishevelled Bedroom Series
Look girl, we’ve all been there. One too many gin and tonics in a can from Marks and Spencers and you find yourself 5 rows deep into the instagram of the husband of the girl you used to take lines with in dingy university toilets. The horror that dawns on you when accidentally like a #throwback photo of the friend’s husband from their childhood, instantly clicking “unlike” scorned with the very real fear that the recipient could have already been notified. Damn you, push notifications. I get it, we can’t help but stalk our ex-boyfriends, ex-best friends, current colleagues, future husbands, and all of their next of kin and friendship circle. Some of us have it worse than others, that aching curiosity that will kill us, or at least our online social presence.
But if you just can’t close that app, turn off your laptop, if your urge to stalk is too great, then at least try to take this advice:
– DON’T scroll past the fifth line of photos on instagram… and whatever you don’t click on it to get a better look. No one wants to be THAT person who’s liked a photo from 132 weeks ago.
– DO have a strong internet connection. Nothing ever good comes from sluggish wifi. Impatience will cause a rogue click that could just mean you “friend requested”
– DON’T friend request for more access. Come on, that’s pretty rookie, even for you.
– DO believe in the six degrees of separation – if everyone in the world is separated by six degrees… then surely there are no boundaries to who to stalk. Your ex boyfriend. Your ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend. Your ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s brother. Your ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend’s brother’s dog. The key is striking a healthy balance, I opt the “little and often” diet of stalking. Every 2 hours stalking a new stranger will usually suffice.
– DO Cross stalk… Don’t limit yourself to one type of social media. You’ve got to find out the whole story and the only way to do that is piece together half truths through a variety of social media..
– DON’T click like. But you did, didn’t you? You only went and clicked like. It’s been noted and there’s no takesies backsies. What now? What if they contact you? You must deny all responsibility or knowledge of the stalking. The great thing about the internet is that you can erase your history, at least from your side. Delete those cookies and if that weird guy you went on a date with once in your second year of university tries to contact you… You know the one who went on to dye his hair purple and wear follow Scientology and you just couldn’t resist having a snoop at his transition over the past five years. Just slowly press delete message… Or soon there you are, two years deep into a Facebook photo album and you’ve made up an elaborate backstory about their life and it’s 3AM and you’ve got a presentation at 8AM in the morning, but that’s OK but this is all very normal behaviour, thanks social media.
If you haven’t already, you must.
On top of that odd building, that Walkie-Talkie wonky sky scraper that melted cars when it was being built, is a beautiful hidden oasis. The top three storeys offer 360 degree views across London and even has landscaped gardens, observation decks and terraces inside.
If you just want to have a wander up in the Sky Garden, good news! It’s free! But make sure you book at least three days in advance, there’s even a small bar that serves drinks and snacks. But if you want a truly exceptional experience you can dine at the Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill or the Darwin Brasserie.
In Essaouira I found the calm I had been searching for for quite some time. Armed with an iPad, a book and a boyfriend, I boarded a shockingly early flight directly to Essaouira from Luton. The old Medina, an old city enclosed by an old fortress that has survived the years, hides winding alleys and markets, with the strong scent of fish guts and thuya wood and is engulfed in gusts of wind every few minutes. Our days were spent sprawled across poolside canopy beds, devouring the chapters of my latest novel and wandering the winding streets until we got so lost we had to stop for Moroccan tea and tourist photos.
As London life ticks on, crawls some days and other days, months are engulfed at a time… I grow ever nervous for reasons I can never quite put my finger on. Whether I’m making the right decisions, or not enough mistakes as my former self might have felt entitled to make. I begin to see the same man drinking coffee on a pavement cafe on the way to work and I feel nothing but hopelessness about the passage of time. London is never permanent and yet nearly three years have passed since I started working here, peeling away the days. Morocco was a welcome, and extremely laid back, retreat to an otherwise constantly changing life.
I wrote about how to fall in love. Did you follow my steps precisely? Did you fall in love? More importantly… did you stay in love?
Fall in love slowly, deeply or casually but make sure you fall in love. Fall blindly and stay there. Make each other packed lunches with post it notes. Stare furiously into each other’s eyes and try to unlock that deep dark soul of theirs or stare blankly into their open heart. Make love, not war. Whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears. Stay up all night and tell each other secrets. Don’t tell each other everything. Don’t plan your wedding but plan a life. Share a life together and talk about all those long road trips you’ll never take because you spent too long at work and got stuck on the tube on your way out of London. Walk hand in hand and curl those fingers tightly like they might just slip away if you let go. Say I love you; whisper it, sing it, shout it from the rooftops but don’t forget to say it. When they say they’re there for you, believe them. Close your eyes and say their name. Everything else should be white noise. Spend all morning in bed. Spend all afternoon in bed too. You won’t always get to. Never go to bed angry, and if you do, wake up and kiss them, make it the first thing you do. Listen to everything they say, because one day they might not say it anymore. Watch horror stories and build forts. Laugh, cry and work out together. Never say “it’s nothing”, because it never was. Eat pizzas and make plans together. Make love. Make time.
We’ve all got pet peeves and that’s just fine. Maybe you get irked by your boyfriend leaving the toilet seat up. Or slow walkers really grind your gears. But some all of us have some really weird pet peeves. I know that deep deep down inside there are some totally odd things that really get you going when you’re trying to sleep on a hot summer’s day and all that’s going around and around in your head are these strange pet peeves and the more you think about them the more you realise how weird and completely inoffensive these things are. In a cold sweat you rise from your bed and go sob in a cold shower. Or… you write a blog post about them…
- You know when you buy a jacket with coat tails? And there’s that one tiny thread that hold the coat tails together so it’s safe and snug between the factory to your wardrobe? There are some people who don’t take that off. They march around in blissful ignorance with that coat tail begging to be set free.
- Not taking off the sticky label from the bottom of your shoe.
- Men in short sleeves shirts.
- People who press the button to open the door to get off the tube. Why? Why are you doing that? Why are you touching the button? Stop touching the button. I hate you.
- Some people hate people who stop directly in front of the oyster barriers to get into the Underground/Tube. Some people hate people who stop directly AFTER the oyster barriers to get into the Underground/Tube. Some people hate the people who can’t get through the barriers because they don’t have enough credit on their Oyster card/stepped in front of the sensor/don’t know how to use an Oyster card reader. But I hate those people who get really angry about these things, so much so they need to vocalise their feelings. It really grinds my gears that people can be so angry about these people. So what? You are now 3 seconds later than you were before, this isn’t Sliding Doors people, some people are just generally unprepared for the responsibility you seem to think having an Oyster card brings with it….
Oh thank goodness. Finally Asian sticky buns are finally trendy. I’ve been waiting all my life for this moment. Glorious, glorious buns.
For the best try…
Shoyru (go to Kingly Court restaurant)
And Yum Bun (currently in Harvey Nichols and Street Feast)
But my take on the ramen craze? Shoyru is good but ramen for a tenner… It just doesn’t sit quite well with me. If you can make it, at least try.
Gone are the days of high heels and dating low lives, and how wonderfully pleasant to be instead tangled up in the soft embrace of love; that gentle ebb and flow of a constant passion for another human being. And how luxuriously quickly we can forget about those long months and years of loneliness, disaster and heartbreak. For in all my time facing the challenges of life, from the deaths of loved ones, heartache or even when traveling around great mountains by myself, I never did feel quite as alone as being a twenty something in London. With that overwhelming feeling this fine city gives you; that you could be anyone, but more likely, you could just be nobody. So how magnificently delightful that all those thoughts now dissipate since finding someone to share a life with. Since finding someone who can release all those tied up frustrations and neuroses that skip, jump and slump around your brain by just saying ‘Good Morning’. Since finding someone to share electric kisses with.
Once upon a time, everything I touched turned to gold, or at least it seemed that way. But nothing ever stuck, nothing ever turned out to be anything more than dust. And then there was him. And everything was OK.