This is how you start over

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The first thing you notice is how green his eyes are. The second is that you’ve seen him before, and you’ve had the same thought, and your heart skipped a beat last time, too. Old habits.

 

Then you’ll notice how you gravitate towards him, and that your lips tilt into a smile every time he looks in your direction. Which is often. You steal a glance and he returns it, you bump your hip and he takes your hand. It works.

 

Next comes a revelation: that maybe, maybe this is how it was meant to be all along. Maybe this is why it didn’t work out with that other guy, and the one before him. Are you crazy, lady, you only just met. But we didn’t, this was months in the making. Don’t you see?

It’s the blind leading the blind.

The fifth thing you notice is how you can’t stop looking, touching, laughing, wishing. How you feel like a teenager again, and for the first time in a long time, that feels like a good thing. Maybe it’s a new start. Smile for the cameras, here comes the good bit.

 

You can’t stop fixing your hair,  your ankle, your mascara. You angle your body the right way and look out into the crowd in what you hope is a wistful pose, a grainy black and white shot with a cigarette and rain and jazz playing in the background. It’s not.

 

Your hair is flat and there’s black smudges all around your eyes because your mascara is running out and has gone lumpy and your feet hurt and probably smell a bit, too. But you’re happy. So damn happy.

 

You go for the candle instead of the straw and you laugh, you laugh, you laugh.  He laughs with you.

 

Looks like your brain to mouth filter took an extended vacation, because none of what you’re saying makes any sense and all of it falls into the “things not to say to an attractive guy” category but hey, you only live once. His eyes sparkle. You’re doing good, kid.

 

The next thing you notice is how you never want this to end. 

 

You say goodbye and he says he’ll call. You almost get the wrong train, you almost forget where you are. Your legs are shaky and your head feels fuzzy, maybe you’ve had one too many drinks. Maybe you didn’t think this through.

 

Are you gonna wake up tomorrow and wish you’d never talked to him at all, wish you’d said you weren’t ready? Would you have meant it?

 

You go home to an empty house. You spend 25 minutes taking off your makeup because your hands are useless when you’re drunk so you sit on the floor while you do it, while you wait. Wait for what? Water, you need water.

 

You’re suddenly cold and maybe it’s the alcohol in your system or maybe you’ve been sitting on the floor for too long but it’s not a good sign and it’s not a good start and you panic. You’re terrified and shaking and this was a bad idea.

 

Maybe you’re not ready. Maybe you’ll sit on the floor a little longer.

 

Yesterday he asked what your type was and if anyone at the bar had caught your eye. You tripped on your words and mumbled something about bankers, and how this is not your kind of bar. “So, hipsters, then? You like them weird?” It took all of your willpower not to blurt out, I just like you. I don’t know what to do about it, but I like you.

 

What if you’ll never be ready?

Get up from the floor. Stop waiting for the perfect guy, the perfect night, or the perfect moment, and savour the taste and the touch and the feeling instead. Savour the moment. Kiss boys under streetlights, drink strawberry cocktails, get on the wrong train. Miss the train completely. Hide in the toilet, laugh 'til it hurts. Get yourself together, and then get yourself out there. Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle.

Actual words of wisdom from my 17 year old brother

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Actual words of wisdom from my 17-year-old brother:

 

You don’t have to be scared. 

I believe in you, we all do.

It’s gonna be okay. 

You’re so strong, you’ve always been.

 

I’ll make you dinner, it’ll be great.

 

You need to experience as much as possible, and forget about figuring out who you are and what you want. 

All that damn pressure you put on yourself. 

It will all come in time. 

You need experiences in order to create who you are. 

You need to experience it all, and decide for yourself, and make an honest choice. And how could you do that if all you’d ever known was a safe life?

You don’t want a safe life, you’ve never been that kind of girl.

You did the right thing, you chose your own path.

I’m proud of you.

 

Here, have some risotto.

 

Who cares what anyone thinks? They don’t matter.

Facebook sucks.

You need to focus on you, and only you, and not care about anything else.

I know it’s scary and I know you feel lonely, but you’re not alone. 

You’re doing great, look where you are. 

Fuck everyone.

 

I’ll get the wine.

 

We’re so lucky.

You’re doing great. 

I love you.

 

And when I tell him I’m immensely proud of him, and that he’s so amazing because when I was his age I’d just lock myself in my room and cry and scream and skip meals, he tells me everything happens for a reason and that he’s sure those experiences helped me get where I am today.

Which only makes me prouder, really.

 

Let’s go sit by the fire, I’ll bring wine and we can cuddle the dogs, he says.

I love you too, and thank you, I think. 

 

When you don't feel at home but Mom's isn't home either

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"Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. You can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done."

 

I first read these words what feels like a million years ago, and I remember a sharp pain in my chest and thinking ‘ah, this tells me something’, but I was wrong. 

I hadn’t felt like this, not truly, not until now.

 

Until this morning, when I woke up in my childhood room bed and sipped lukewarm tea from my favorite red mug and cuddled my dogs and everything was the same until it was all different.

It’s a strange feeling, and it doesn’t sit right. 

 

I shut my eyes and I so desperately want to pretend I’m 12 again, but there’s lines around my eyes now and a heavy weight in my stomach and I am not 12. I will never be 12 again.

 

I will turn 22 in February and my childhood room doesn’t feel mine anymore. There’s boxes full of things I’ve never seen and shelves filled with books I’ve never read. My diaries are still in the grey box on the top where I left them at 19, but I know what’s going to happen if I start going through them, and I’m not quite ready just yet. 

 

My tea is cold now, but I keep drinking it because I need to feel something besides this paralysing stupor.

This is not my home anymore, and it’s not my city. 

London is my city, but I don’t have a home there either. 

 

Somewhere in between here and there is the last three years of my life, and in between now and the next three is the choices I make once I finish this tea. And that… that’s terrifying. 

 

Will three years be enough to forget this version of myself, too? Will I recognise her? Will I be proud of her?

I hope I can. I hope they’ll be the right choices. I hope I’ll find a home that can feel like one. I hope 2018-me will have a lot more things figured out than I do right now, but above all, I hope she remembers how she got there.

 

I don’t want to feel like a stranger in my own skin, I don’t want to forget about twentytwo the way I seemed to have sixteen. I want to remember the journey, I want to honour it. 

 

Three years from now and three years after that, until there’s a wrinkle for every memory and I hope I can remember every single one. 

 

The poem at the start is by Kalyn RoseAnne, Sometimes you're 23.

Anti-Bucket List '16

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This post first appeared on She Did What She Wanted.

 

I’ve decided I’m not gonna write a bucket list for 2016, because if there’s something I’ve learned is that they always end up ruining my expectations and start making me feel guilty 5 days into January, which really, really isn’t a good way to start anything.

 

Enter the anti-bucket list. It first appeared in this month’s Glamour UK issue, but I read about it on Girl lost in the city, a blog by the wonderful Emma Gannon, and when I did, all I could think was yes. YES. 

 

Because why shouldn’t we reflect on all those little (and not so little) steps that we’ve managed to take, instead of forgetting about it as soon as the clock rings the new year? So that we can start feeling terrible about not keeping that lethal ‘will go to the gym’ resolution? Yeah, no thanks. 

 

I’d rather focus on the good bits a little longer, because it’s been a hard year and I think we all deserve to acknowledge our efforts a little bit more. Blow our own trumpets a little more often, be our very own cheerleaders and all of that. 

 

Maybe that should be our new year’s resolution.

 

 

ANTI BUCKET LIST 2016

 

  • I graduated from drama school! After a lifetime of dreaming I could be an actress, I can finally call myself one!

  • I watched my graduation movies on a cinema screen. At BAFTA. Woah. 

  • I started writing again, which took more courage than I ever thought I could muster but made me the very happiest, so. A big yes to this one.

  • I rewatched all six seasons of Sex and the City, because if there’s something a girl needs at 21 is some good old Carrie Bradshaw in her life.

  • I let go of more fears and demons than I could have possibly dreamed of, and let myself enjoy my very first serious relationship. Yay for letting ourselves feel things, wholeheartedly and unapologetically.

  • I moved in with my very first serious boyfriend. 

  • I moved out of the house I shared with said boyfriend.

  • I learned to fall in love with myself again.

  • I surprised my best friend of 20 years by showing up at her birthday party in Milan when she thought I would be in London. She cried tears of happiness, and it was a very good day.

  • I started having wine and cookies for dinner whenever I felt like it, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

  • I got an agent. An actual acting agent. All by myself. Woah.

  • I rode a horse! Four times! It was terrifying! I still have nightmares about it!

  • I went to see One Direction at the O2, and Harry wore glittery golden boots and we cried and laughed and danced and it was everything we could have hoped for. 

  • I went months without wearing foundation. The last time I did that I was 13, so… big achievement. 

  • I read more Bukowski. 

  • I started working out again for the first time in a long time, and eating healthily for the first time in forever, which shocked my body into losing fat and gaining muscle super fast. For a while, I experienced looking the best I’ve ever looked. 

  • I watched all four seasons of Scandal in less than two weeks. No regrets.

  • There was one time I danced all night, had pancakes at 5 AM, slept overlooking Canary Wharf and felt infinite. It was a good time.

  • I booked myself & the boyfriend a surprise trip to Italy. We went to the seaside and ate our body weight in pizza and got really really tan. Yes.

  • I discovered and fell in love with Amy Schumer. One time I laughed so hard I inhaled my tea and almost choked to death. But really, I don’t hold it against her, we’re okay.

  • I burned my entire face due to my stubborn (stupid) refusal to put on sunscreen anywhere other than under my eyes. Looked like a weird red and white koala for a while. Learned my lesson.

  • I got my very first acting gigs! I was in a Durex commercial! It was hilarious!

  • I flew business class for the very first time and felt like one hell of a classy lady. Got lost on my way out of the airport to balance it up, I guess.

  • I saw Taylor Swift at BST with Nic and Jess!! Cried my eyes out!! Danced for hours!!! Yes!!!

  • I fainted and hit my head on the bathtub, which meant I had to go to the hospital and be very scared for a while, but also lead to me taking more care of myself. Yay for self-care.

  • I got drunk by myself and broke into a very loud performance of Perfect at midnight on the Millennium Bridge, wearing the silliest, widest grin on my face. Harry Styles makes me happy, what can I say.

 

 

From me, to me, for the new year: you’re doing good, really, stop freaking out. Love you loads, always.