I went out with Oliver last night.
Wait, I'm starting the story too quickly. Let me take a step back.
On Monday I started my new position. I am an 'intern' at an energy fund. At the time it seemed like a good idea. But of course it wasn't. I sit in a tiny office, with a few other people, all doing their own thing, all talking in another language... Most of all, I miss the markets, I miss the macro, I miss reading the newspaper in the morning and being exited to see how the latest crisis in the eurozone is going to make my day ahead interesting.
Oh God, no one has ever broken my heart like the people who made the decision to turn down my application to move departments in my last job. How can it be that I work so hard and give so much and all I do is fail and fail and fail. How can they sleep at night knowing that they broke the heart of a girl who had been broken so much?
What am I going to do, what am I going to do. No, really, what am I going to do? Get another job I hate, go back to school and do a masters or another course that will get me nowhere, stick it out in this place alone and interning, pack it all in, give up?
How can you be a City Girl when you don't work in The City anymore. My new office is in Mayfair. I need buzz, I feed off the energy of the square mile and the pink paper of the Financial Times. It's part of the identity that I need.
When I handed in my office pass for the last time three weeks ago, I stepped down off the stage again, that goddamn stage. Yeah, that was it, just another show I'd put on, just another pair of heels I had strutted across the stage in.
And you know why I'm unhappy in this new internship that I've started? I don't have a show to star in. I can wear cardigans and flat shoes and no mascara. I felt that old feeling that there's no point in living if there is no-one in the audience to admire you. This was never about being happy, this was always about the goddamn show.
One of the guys I had worked with was leaving to work in the New York office so I went along to his leaving drinks on Friday. Theo was there of course. Yes, I was probably going because I knew he was going to be there. But it was different this time.
I wore a new dress - bold red and so tight I could barely sit down. I pulled out all the stops and put on my most beautiful face. And I did it to show him what he was missing.
"You look incredibly hot," one guy told me.
"Do you think Theo is killing himself with regret?"
"I hope so."
I didn't look at Theo once, ignored him when he passed me, chatted and laughed and shined with everyone else around him. And did not look at him once.
Yes, I saw him looking at me though. And God it was so wonderful to feel the balance of power turn at last.
But then if I'm honest there was another motive: I wanted him to come crawling back to me. I knew now that what people said was true: playing hard to get was sexy and more appealing than being available. I wanted Theo to go mad with jealousy and regret and come crawling back to me.
But as things started to wind down, I put on my jacket, grabbed my bag and headed outside with my friend to leave. Theo was outside, leaning against the wall. I couldn't stop myself.
"How are you bubs?"
I frowned at him. What the fuck was that. He never called me an affectionate pet name in his life, and now he was making out like we were close?
I looked the other way. He was so drunk he could barely stand. I didn't understand how he could get himself into such as state.
He staggered back into the bar without another word.
I looked at my friend who was busy on her phone.
"Hang on," I said, "I'll be back."
I rushed back inside the bar after him. Thinking back on it now, I'm not even sure why. I just wanted to talk to him, I wanted to... talk to him... ask him how he was, make small talk...something
He hadn't gone far, he was asking the bar girl for something and she looked troubled, shaking her head. He was so fucked. I went over and put my hand on his back, "It's ok," I reassured her, "I'll look after him." She smiled at me gratefully.
Theo swayed, staring at the ground.
"Theo, Theo honey, how the fuck did you get so drunk? You need to fucking drink less, seriously."
"I know, I've been told before."
"Babe, sit down..."
"I need to eat. I want a McDonald's..."
He was in such a state I didn't even think twice. "OK, shall we go get you a McDonald's?"
I escorted him out of the bar and into the nearest taxi. He held my hand tightly like a frightened child.
"I can't pay for a taxi!" he whined.
"I'm fucking paying ok. Just get in." He sat in the taxi with his head hanging, eyes closed. I put my hand on his thigh and rubbed it. It was pity. What I felt for him was nothing more than pity.
We got him his McDonald's and sat on the steps outside Liverpool Street Station while he devoured it silently. I stroked his back and smoothed down his hair.
There was so much I wanted to say, but I was afraid of him when he was like this. I didn't want him to get angry and fly off the handle. But I ventured cautiously, "Theo, you know I don't want anything from you, I just want you to be happy."
He said nothing but put his arm around me and pulled me in close to his chest and kissed me on the top of my head. "It was good to see you again," he said.
I wasn't going to throw myself at him this time. I wasn't going to tell him I loved him, I wasn't going to go and have sex with him. After being away from him in the office it had given me the space to appreciate that it was really over.
"Ok let's get you in a taxi to go home honey."
"No, leave me here."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not fucking leaving you sitting here in this state. Come on, let's get you a taxi."
"Do you want me to leave you alone?"
He shook his head, and quietly whispered, "no."
I sat there silently, staring at him as he sat with his head in his hands. My eyes were dry. I was going out with Oliver tomorrow. I wasn't going to cry and make my face puffy for it. I had been true to my word in my last post, I had forced my heart to go cold when I thought about Theo. And yet I was sitting there, knowing that I was missing my last train home. I was sitting there, holding on to him tightly in return, the poor little boy who I wanted to save so desperately.
"I'm sorry I was so mental before," I said.
"It's fine. Really. I made you mental."
We agreed that he would get a bus. We looked around for the right stops, his hand still tightly in mine. The wrong buses came and went. He held me close and looked deep into my eyes. I could see how much he wanted me. But he'd made the decision to end it, and now so had I. We kissed once or twice, on the lips but just pecks. I wasn't going to kiss him properly. I didn't want to.
I didn't want to.
I knew that if I let myself melt in his arms and let my heart go warm that I would end up crying all the way home and crying all weekend again. I was done with it. I had my weekend planned away from him.
When the bus came, it turned out it wasn't going to the right place. He flew off the handle, slammed the bus stop post repeatedly, swearing loudly and violently.
"Theo," I tried to put an arm around him to calm him down, "Stop it, it's ok."
He didn't listen to me and pushed me off. I backed away shaking my head. I could feel people watching me. I wasn't going to let them shake their head in pitying me too because they thought I loved this fool.
"Fuck it, I'm getting a taxi. Fuck this!" he yelled.
I gave him a £10 note to pay for it, and he ran off into the street and into the nearest taxi. I watched it drive off, Theo in the back seat with his head in his hands.
I walked towards London Bridge numbly. He was not my problem anymore. Thank God, he was not my problem anymore.
I had missed my last train and the last tube so had to wait for a series of night buses. I'd done that for that stupid boy. But you know what, at least I wasn't crying and at least I knew I was the bigger person in being able to send him home.
I didn't get into bed until gone 3am. I slept for most of the day, knowing that I had to go out with Oliver that evening and had to look perfect. It's amazing how easy it is not to eat when there is a boy involved.
So I was finally going out with Oliver. I met him outside Covent Garden tube station and took him to a noisy bar nearby.
Oliver. Ok let me try and make this interesting...or well, ok, let me just tell you what happened.
Let's recap - Oliver is the guy I met when I went on a night out in Brighton, who after a bit of Google-stalking, I realised was only 18-years-old. Now, as far as I had remembered, he was the most good-looking boy I had ever met, obviously, I had slightly overdone this estimation. Don't get me wrong, he was very cute, very cute indeed, like a slightly more angelic looking Harry Styles. But the feeling of wanting to rip his clothes off and ravage him wasn't really there.
He gave me a peck on the cheek when I arrived, which I thought was nice, and we spent most of the evening chatting away quite happily. We talked about his music studies, music in general, my work, travel, families, all very stereotypical first date stuff. He was lovely, and easy at talking, and we got on well enough.
I suppose there were two things that I found problematic:
1. The first time we had met we had been snogging the face of each other and dancing inappropriately in a dark corner of a club. This time we were sitting, drinking, chatting and on impeccable behaviour.
2. It was like the most painfully stereotypical date ever. A "lets go out, have a few drinks and get to know each other" type date. And um, quite frankly, that's not something I do very often. And it was just weird. For me, being on a date like that, was just weird. The "snogging the face of each other and dancing inappropriately in a dark corner of a club" stuff - I get that. (Which I guess speaks volumes about me.)
He was so sweet and lovely. I could tell he'd never been cruel in his life, he was wonderful. I wonder what he thought of me. Definitely none of those things, I swear too much and pout too much.
I would like to see him again, I would like to sit and laugh and chat with him again, I'd like to kiss him.
And I hate that I compared him to Theo as we sat there. The terrible burning passion and chemistry between me and Theo, I hate that I wanted that. I want sweet and lovely. I'd like to see Oliver again because he's sweet and lovely.
When we departed ways after four hours of chat, I gave him another hug and he gave me another peck on the cheek.
"I'll send you a text," he said.
"Cool, I'll see you soon, enjoy the rest of your weekend!"
I found it difficult to behave in the way I usually would - in other words I found it very difficult to be my usual forward self. I would have liked to have kissed him properly again. I don't know if I held back because I knew he was only 18 or because I didn't want to have anything with him.
I genuinely don't know. Would I have had sex with him? Yes. But I'm not sure if that's because I actually wanted to or because I felt like I had made up my mind that I wanted to when I first met him.
And you'd think that was it wouldn't you. But no. Even with an 18-year-old boy who I'm not sure that I like, I am still mental. I freaked out when the light on our table was pointing in my face. He's going to see my blemishes, he's going to think I look old.. had to go to the toilet to touch up and re-touch up my make up, had to sit back in my chair when he lent in too close, please don't think I'm ugly, please don't think I'm ugly.
He said he'll send me a text. When? Like a foolish teenager I look up on Google: "When will a guy text after a first date?"
You see. I knew this would happen. Like, whatever happens, or whenever it happens, it is not going to work out between me and Oliver, it's just not. And when it doesn't, I'm going to think that it's because I'm too fat, too ugly, and now something new: too old.
If he doesn't text me I'm going to think it's because I didn't look good enough.
My therapist was right: "You need to get out of the cycle of choosing men who you know it won't work out with." Was it because I didn't want to be with someone, was it habit, or do I like the pain? Do I like being able to use these failed relationships as proof that I am not good enough - not thin enough - not pretty enough. I only go for guys who I think will reinforce this belief. Why? I must like the pain. I must.