I wrote this post on the plane on my way to Bilbao last Thursday. It’s now the end of my holiday and I’m back home, but the problem with staying in campsites for ten days means I’ve had zero wifi to post this until now. Instinctively it feels relevant still but I’m slightly delirious from a diet of croissants and orangina, so what do I know?
Talking To Strangers.
Unexpectedly today I’ve experienced two firsts. This is good going for me, especially in comparison to yesterday, when I cried at work, cut my ankle shaving, and had a gin to calm me down, all of which (tragically) I’ve done multiple times before.
I’m on my way to Bilbao to meet a man in a van. I know him, thankfully. Ten days of roadtripping around Spain and France with Eduardo is exciting, but not quite as newsworthy as my latest accomplishments. Number one being having dinner alone in a restaurant for the first time, and the second being having a conversation with a stranger at the bar while he ate yaki soba and I ate the saltiest edamame beans of my life and it being ENJOYABLE. I mean, am I even British anymore?
To put it into context, I was in Wagamama and I’m not entirely sure that classifies as a “restaurant” but it’s certainly more of a restaurant than Pret, or a kebab van, so whatever. I’ve done a lot of things by myself in the past, travelling to foreign countries, watching plays, orgasming, but dining in alone? Not until now. As much as I love Pret, I wasn’t in the mood for an overpriced juice and a quinoa soup, and I had some time to kill, so Wagas it was.
Obviously I asked to be in the furthest corner of the bar against the wall and immediately got my phone out, so as to avoid eye contact with all other humans. However, it turns out Gatwick at 6pm on a Thursday is a busy place, and within minutes I ended up with company.
It could have gone either way. The last time I made a “friend” in a plane-context was on a flight to Australia and the girl admitted she liked the taste of blood. So you can forgive me for putting a guard up, right? This young gentleman asked me politely what my curry was, and I’d made a pretty colourful choice so to be honest I don’t blame him. He opened a magazine and thankfully let me eat my rainbow meal in silence, because I have this weird anxiety about getting a bit of mangetout in my teeth whilst being asked what I do for work.
I could tell this guy was sociable though, I detected a vibe. And sure enough, when his noodles (cheers for ignoring my recommendation mate) arrived, he turned to me for a chat. Within minutes we had bonded over both being writers, wondering how to go about doing it full time, similar pipe dreams of moving to Spain, and a scathing attitude towards Deliciously Ella. I’m also giving myself a pat on the back for engaging in this entire conversation whilst finishing my edamame beans in a hurry. They aren’t the MOST graceful food to suck on, but bravely I went there.
We departed separately fifteen or so minutes later, him wishing me luck on being a comedy queen, me wishing him luck on making it to Madrid for a new life, and it was over. It’s nice to meet people who aren’t weird (he told me he was entering an Australian speedo competition for ‘the most normal body’ which is how I know he wasn’t coming onto me). London is full of weirdos. The other day a man called me a cunt for glancing at his milkshake and that’s not even an innuendo. I spend my life on trains ignoring strangers, fiercely protecting my personal space, trying to imagine I’m on a tropical island alone, and not on the Victoria line lodged in someone’s armpit. So when you have an encounter that reminds you there are nice humans, creating their own pathways, eating in Wagamama alone slightly awkwardly too, it’s cool.
All in all I’ve had a pretty great time at Gatwick. I did my ritualistic wandering around Victoria Secret not buying anything but spraying all the perfumes on different parts of my body. I’ve never understood buying extortionate underwear when in my life it’s either bled on, uncomfortable, or accidentally ripped when I’m in a hurry. I also rated the Havaianas flipflops according to the inventiveness of their patterns and their likelihood to clash, found some Finding Nemo accessories for babies that practically made my womb fall out and attach itself to a man, and spent the rest of my time using all my willpower not to buy three Toblerones for plane snacks.
I’m writing this on the plane. I was a good samaritan, and gave my seat to the dad of two tiny Spanish kids because cheap airlines do this thing now where they allocate you random seats miles away from everyone you know, unless you want to pay a million pounds to choose where you sit. (Now that’s cuntier than glancing at a milkshake, isn’t it?). I’m on the aisle which is useful as IBS is giving me grief and all the bloating is making me need a wee, but it also means I missed being able to take a photograph of the most unreal sunset above London as we took off. It’s weird, in this old digital world we’re hooked onto, to feel a pang of regret that I can’t document it, so I’ll just describe it for you.
It was like 10,000 raspberries had melted in the sky.