Do you know your number? If so, where do you keep The List?
If it’s in kept your head, is that because it’s low or because alcohol hasn’t addled your memory yet? In my circle the two are directly proportional. Repeat after me: booze brews booboos, martinis make mistakes, rosé rears romance. No wait, rosé rears regrets. Is your list on your iPhone? Dangerous if you have a paranoid partner, but handy when the best friend you just made whilst ordering a drink asks you who the ugliest person you’ve shagged is. Was it scribbled over cocktails at the Beverly Hills Hotel and cast aside à la Lindsay Lohan (oh Mr. Timberlake, I expected better) or is it in fact, written in a travel journal alongside a sketched balloon boasting the total number, which you then left on the kitchen table at your parents’ house and now daren’t ask your mother if she’s seen? Seems I know where mine is (mum if you’re reading this please God return it, clearly I was boasting) but not everyone who’s on it.
After a bad break up - I mean the one where you throw up for three days even without any alcohol or ice cream - girls go through three stages in quick succession
1. Immediately to her friends, “I am never dating anyone ever again; I’ve got you guys to talk to and a vibrator.”
2. To Tinder, ‘Match me if you love pizza ❤ puppies ❤ and the pub ❤. No butt stuff on the first date.’
3. To her now emotionally-drained mates, “Men on dating apps are legit freaks, I’m gonna go back through my list and recycle some numbers.”
The results have seesawed. There was the professional snowboarder I met in New Zealand who last I heard was going to move to London. His response to my Facebook Message, ‘Hey babe change of plan, I’ve just set up a hip hop bar in Melbourne, if you were here you could drink for free.’ Well babe, that’s probably not going to work as I’d have to drink $3000 of free alcohol to balance the outstanding travel fines I’d have to pay upon reentering the country. Next the Harry Styles lookalike who sang One Direction to me in bed in Laos’ Vang Vieng four summers ago and spent this summer reinstating my faith in men. He has since turned into yet another friend who tells me off for my awful dating choices, himself excluded of course.
Then there was the med-student - now doctor - I hadn’t seen for six years. The kind boy I refused to commit to for six months when I was an out-of-control art student who thought Shoreditch was her personal playground. This boy I described to my friends in 2011 as ‘the most positive person I have ever met’ had, in the following five years, become a surgeon with a God Complex. The exact same time it had taken this naïve, spontaneous girl to add the final bricks to the wall she’d built around herself. Afterwards, all I left with was the memory of our unacquainted lips attempting to sychronise, and a lingering nostalgia; an aching for the people we were, who we’d once thought we could be. The people whose ghosts we brought out in each other.
But why do we go back; are we being sentimental, trying to keep the number down, or are we just too lazy to start from scratch? Perhaps it’s a case of better the devil you know. Or, more importantly, that this past conquest knows the devil you’ve been. At 21 I was irresponsible, selfish and even more lost than I think I am now, but without the self-awareness to realise it. If I don’t want her, I can’t expect someone else to.
There was someone I’d known at that age who I hadn’t thought to message, who I’d barely thought of at all. That was the one I bumped into, is The One I’m with now. I guess sometimes the hand of fate can’t be forced.