It’s New Year’s Eve and what better day to reflect than today?
I don’t think there are many things about my life now that would surprise my friends from when I was at university studying law fifteen years ago. I don’t think they’d be surprised that I’m not a lawyer. I don’t think they’d be surprised that I’ve lived and worked in many countries. I don’t think they’d be surprised that I see myself as a tortured creative soul, trying to be a writer. I don’t think they’d be surprised that I’m still very overweight. I don’t think they’d be surprised that I have a comical and disastrous love life. I don’t think they’d be surprised that I’ve ended up in London.
I do, however, think they’d be surprised at how determinedly solitary my life is. I was a very sociable 19-year-old, moving across campus slowly, because I’d have to stop and greet someone every two metres. I was “famous” in college. Now, I have become a resolute introvert. On Friday evenings, I find myself leaving work excited because I don’t have to speak to anyone again until Monday. I’m not saying I never socialise. I do. But I don’t socialise a lot. And I tend to do what’s easiest. I’ll go out with my colleagues after work and happily drink and gossip for hours, but I’ve made no effort at all to reconnect with old friends I have who are living in London. I’ve taken very few opportunities to meet up with people here. When I go to the cinema, I go alone. When I go to see a West End show, I go alone. When I go to a restaurant, I go alone. And I kind of love it. I take great pleasure in my own company.
I can’t imagine marriage. Having someone else always there. All the time. Having someone else move things round in the fridge. Having someone else squeeze the toothpaste tube in the wrong place. Having someone else know what time I go to sleep, what time I wake up, someone hearing me go to the toilet, someone watching me eat, someone knowing what I eat. It just seems like prison to me.
I like being alone. And I don’t want that to end. But I know it’s not good for me. My soul needs more people. And I haven’t really been doing the social things I wanted to do in London. I attempted to go clubbing once to a fat gay men’s night but lost my nerve and went home. There are so many choices in “bear” clubbing here. I haven’t tried any of them. I did once arrange to meet a man in a gay sauna. And although he mightn’t have been my Prince Charming, I loved the sauna. Did I ever go back? No. Just too chicken. I’m obsessed with drag queens. I live in London. Have I been to a single drag night since I got here? No. It’s all just too scary. I joined an LGBTQ reading group. It meets once a month. I read the book for it twice. And twice I failed to go. Once I let work take over and stayed in the office instead of going to my book club. The other time, I did go to the pub where the group was meeting. But I chickened out. I sat in another part of the bar and looked at the adorably earnest middle-aged lesbians discussing queer sci fi across the room and just felt too fat and awkward to say hello. I went home, swearing I would go next time.
And London Connor kind of came off the rails in July/August anyway. I’d been doing so well. I was being brave. I was meeting so many strange men from the internet. I was writing. I was putting myself out there, whether by self-publishing my book, or blogging, or YouTubing. I was going to a new West End show every week. I was losing weight. I lost four stone and it was easy! I was buying lovely new clothes. I was happier than I’ve been in years and years.
And then, after one of my last visits home to see my dying father this summer, everything screeched to a halt. I started gaining again. I’ve now gained back most, if not all, of the weight I lost. I stopped meeting men from the internet. It’s been over two months. That’s not London Connor. I started bingeing again. I stopped writing. I stopped making videos.
There’s only one area of my life where I snapped back into shape very impressively. And that’s work, which hasn’t been negatively affected at all by my bereavement. I’ve been working like crazy for the last few months – way too much, in fact. I’ve surprised myself at how much I like this job. I left Vietnam in 2015, swearing never to take another job in teacher training management and that’s exactly what this job is. And I love it. I feel invested in it. But it’s come to mean too much. This isn’t what I came to London for. The week before Christmas, I found myself leaving work at 10:00 pm one night. What on earth is that about? There wasn’t any particularly good reason. It was just a regular Tuesday. Everyone else was gone by 5:30. I tell myself that it’s ok that I stay late. I often arrive late at work as well, getting in between 10:00 and 10:30 for a 9:00 start, and no one minds because they know I do way more than my 40 hours. I’ve worked 12 unpaid Saturdays this year, as well as frequently staying till after 8:00 pm, at least three days a week, and no one ever asked me to. It’s all come from me. And maybe it was just something I could control as my family imploded in the run-up to and after my dad’s death.
And I do love my job and I enjoy doing it and I’m glad I have it, but it’s not the reason I’m in London. In 2018, I’m going to work 9:00 to 5:00. I’m taking back my evenings. And that’s just one of my resolutions.
From reading this, you can guess what some of my other resolutions are. I’ve made a lot. Big ones.
I have a love/hate relationship with New Years. I hate New Years parties. Tonight I’m going to stay at home and once again watch the New Year’s Eve episode of The OC where Ryan has to get to the party on time to kiss Marissa by midnight so she doesn’t end up kissing Evil Oliver. It’s a great New Year’s Eve tradition that I would encourage you all to join in with.
And tomorrow, I’ll start work on my long list of resolutions. I do love a resolution. And the years in my life that have gone better tended to be the ones where I reached for the sky.
So keep an eye on Connor folks. 2018 is going to be his year. You heard it here first.