I was back in Ireland for three and a bit days.
My mother could only find so many ways of phrasing the question “But why London?” and eventually gave up.
I couldn’t really have told her anyway. Is it the vast number of filthy men here whose type I inexplicably am and who keep doing sex on me? Yes! Is it the West End and the fact that I’ve now been to seven shows on seven Thursdays and cried at four of them? Yes! Is it that this is the kind of place where people make their name and become famous and maybe I’ll make the big time and be able to get out of EFL once and for all? Of course it is! Is it that this is a massive anonymous city and allows me to serve both the introvert and extrovert in my soul that have been locked in combat as long as I can remember? Yes! Can I explain any of these to my mother? No. Well, maybe the West End musicals thing. But none of the others.
There is one thing that my mother and I really do enjoy doing together. Looking at property websites. She and I have spent hours together looking for places to rent and to buy in Dublin, in Longford, in Tipperary and in Cork. Now we have a new place to look. London! I showed her the kind of studio apartments that I think I should be able to afford to move into by the end of the summer. And she did find that interesting. But my mother is from a generation where renting is perceived as failure. So it wasn’t long before we were googling “rent to buy London”. There are rent-to-buy schemes. I have no idea whether I’m eligible or not, but my mother did enjoy the fantasy and I got swept along too. There was a lovely one-bedroom flat in Greenwich that caught my eye, which my mother didn’t approve of because “Greenwich is a sex place”. I explained to her that that was Greenwich in New York and that Greenwich in London is not a sex place. I’m not sure whether or not she believed me.
On Friday, I had lunch in Cork with one friend and then got a train to Dublin and had dinner and drinks with another two friends. For all my London talk, it’s lovely to remember that I do have a life waiting for me in Ireland if I do decide to move back. I still have people there and I would have options if I ever do decide to leave London.
On Saturday night, I had Eurovision and a goodbye dinner/drinks with another friend who’s off to America soon. I’m glad that I did get a last night out with her. She was one of my PhD friends, and while many of my friends were really great and tried to empathise with what was going on in my head at that time with my obsession with My Boys and with living in Hall, she was the one person who actually “got” it. And since then, through all life’s ups and downs, she’s been the one person who has supported every single one of my harebrained schemes and projects, regardless of how nutty they are. We haven’t actually lived in the same city for 3 years, but I’m still sad that she’s going to be so far away.
Two days of my mother’s cooking and two dinners out in restaurants and two nights of pints had me worried about my diet. I had logged all the calories as best I could. But it was far from perfect. Like, how do you record four dips of a poppadom into a unnamed dip? I weighed myself on Sunday. I had lost a pound in spite of the pints and in spite of the eating out and in spite of my mother’s food. I daren’t say it, because I know how quickly my eating can go out of control, but surviving a visit home is a big deal.
And, seven weeks into this diet, it’s still easy. And it’s fitting my life. A switch has flipped in my brain. For the first time since 2007, it feels easy and it feels right. I lost almost seven stone that time. Please God let me do the same again.
When you’re this weight, and you can still have kitkats and chips and beer and bread and still lose weight because my limit is 2500 calories a day which would be too many for any of you skinnies reading this, it feels like I’m in a waiting room for the “real diet” to start. But that’s ok.
Losing weight is different every time. Usually the first place that looks thinner is my face. This time it’s my tummy. My face still has all of its double chins. I’m still as wide as I was and when I look in a mirror, there’s no difference, but when I look down towards the floor, it’s completely different. There’s way way way less belly in the way.
This week was a stressful week at work, but the calorie counting went well. I have just weighed myself. I’m down another three pounds this week. That’s two and a half stone or 35 pounds down in seven weeks. I’m killing this.
And last night, I had my third sex-date with the French train station platform boy. I’d done way too many hours at work and I have to be honest, I was kind of hoping he’d cancel, or that he’d come quickly and then leave so I could get some of my marking done.
I was wrong to wish for that.
It was an absolutely magic night. I know we have no future at all. He’s seeing six or seven guys at once, all of them “superchubs”. He glories in my fat and obsesses about it and talks about little else. And I have learned to love being objectified. But I spend six days a week proud of how much flatter my belly is and then I meet this nice man and I deliberately puff my belly out because I’m worried he’ll find out I’m losing weight at the moment.
Bodies are weird things.
Anyway, I had such a good time with him. And I did something that I’ve never done with a man before that I’m not going to write about here. And I told him something that I’ve never told a man I was sleeping with before. And I might have even cried a sneaky tear while we were wrapped around each other and I just felt so ecstatic and so whole.
When he left, after making an appointment for our next date, I felt far too happy to do my marking. Instead I just rolled around my bed, happy and satisfied in a way I’ve almost never felt.
I love the me I’m becoming in London. I can’t see myself ever leaving.