Imagine if you woke up one morning with the ability to wipe the slate clean. To start again. Would you do it? Are there things you would alter, or eradicate completely? Or would you only tidy up a few things rather than blot the lot?
I suspect there are very few people who wouldn’t change a thing. There are very few of us who manage to convincingly say they wouldn’t change the bad things because they know they make them stronger. We still, out of loyalty to a sense of purity, look back to the life before trouble and think “Yes. Even though I’ve learned lots and am stronger and everything, I kind of liked it when I was simpler.”
We’re all a bit grubby really aren’t we. No matter how we scrub ourselves up or how we make nice or put the front up, we all show the signs of wear and tear from birth. But would we wipe it all clean if we could?
People talk to me a lot about a lot of stuff. I think writing this column for four years makes them think they know me a bit, and I think something in my flinging out little stories from my life makes them feel safe doing the same. I like that they do. I like to talk to people. For at least a day a week it makes me think if I was a better person I would give up all my nonsense and train as a counsellor. Do some good. Maybe one day.
It occurs to me that almost without exception they are people who want to change something. Who feel one way and wish to feel another, who are in a situation they wish was somehow different. Standing on one side of something and wishing to leap over and be on the other side. To see if that something different makes them happier.
I have female friends asking me to set them up with a man, to find them ‘the right person’, when I am not qualified to know what that is. It’s as though being a writer makes them think you have answers, when really you have none. And these friends – funny intelligent beautiful women who have found themselves single again and want to start again – are asking me to fix them up from the magical black book of my life. I’ve not been terribly useful. One girlfriend ranted at me “WHAT IS WITH EVERYONE BEING WITH SOMEONE. ARE THEY JUST SETTLING? HOW HAVE THEY GOT IT RIGHT? WHERE ARE ALL THE SINGLE ELIGIBLE MEN?” and I sipped my gin wide-eyed and thought about it for the first time. Where ARE all the single eligible men? I couldn’t think of any single mates I could set her up with. I couldn’t think of a single person that I would set her up with in real life. In lieu of something useful to say I just topped up our glasses.
And I felt that small rush of panic. That “am I getting this life stuff right?” That little hot flush in the blood of wondering if I’m doing any of the right things. That’s the trouble with talking to people. It makes you think. Bastards.
What if I starting saying yes to the people who ask me on dates? Would that be a good new thing?
What would happen if I said yes to the people who have said “let’s just go. Sod it, let’s just…go.” What if I went? What if I packed my bags for a few months and went off on an adventure? Would that be a good thing? Would that, by getting distance to everything, be a bit like wiping the slate clean? How might my life change?