I took myself to dinner the other day.
Except, I’m poor and cooking is fun, so I made myself dinner, opened a decent bottle of wine and left my phone far away.
I talked a lot. I’m glad my flatmates weren’t around.
It was like going on a date with a good-looking, intelligent, funny partner – only better, because I could interrupt myself whenever and not get into trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
When things went bad in relationships, I’d often resort to meals to sort shit out. “Let’s go for dinner” I’d say whilst meaning “Let’s go for dinner and discuss your depression and the best steps for getting you to deal with it…again.” And then the dinner would be awkward. There’d be huge gaps in the conversation that gave birth to grotesque statements about the weather whilst we danced and skated in a parody of happiness around the issue. I don’t think we ever tasted the meal.
I’d thought I could sort out my issues over my meal.
The nice thing about running both sides of a conversation is you don’t have gaps in the conversation. You never quite end up saying “weird, it’s Saturday and the sun’s shining. I wonder why.” You say stuff like “So this whole pain/pleasure thing that might possibly be linked to self-hatred and masochism” then you interrupt yourself to say “Damn this steak tastes so good! Have you tried it with the wine?” “Yeah I have, and I’m loving the fried apples and onions!”
I’m not burying it. I’m not denying it. Every time I look at my arm I’m reminded. And every time I’m reminded, I want to do it again.
Not for the mutilation: for the pain. For the control. For that little tingle of pleasure that runs up my arm to my spine and sits there, giggling happily.
My dinner found other things to talk about. Like my writing. Like my studies. Like the next 11 months (and 2 days). I didn’t make plans. I held onto ideas and swirled them with the wine and the steak and the apple and the onion and the sauce. They tasted good.
Once the meal was finished, I headed to the pub. This was a bit surprising: following a date at home, I seldom go out. I’m always “too tired” or “too antisocial” – both excuses for “I’m too coupley”. But I’d promised myself I’d go and I couldn’t disappoint me, so off I went.
I’d hoped to meet people there, people who’d said they’d try make it, but I suspected I’d be drinking alone. I was quite right. I was a little surprised when I walked in and two girls stopped chatting to two guys to straighten their backs and eye me repeatedly. I ignored them (I don’t know why) and ordered a drink.
I realised quite quickly that I couldn’t expect things to happen to me. No one was coming to drink with me, so I had to go drink with them. I found two colleagues having a night off and talking wine: I chased them through a history of cocktails and alcohol as the bar closed and we made a mess discovering just how strong a proper cocktail should be.
And then I stumbled home to bed with me.
And when I woke I realised something: I’m happier alone.