When I mention friends and family on this blog I always always use real names (with one notable exception). I do this because a) this is not a fiction, b) if you don’t know them already first names are unlikely to give them away, and c) they love it. My friends and family are egoists, just like everybody else.
But today I want to tell you about my friend Marie and I want to let you know that she is not called Marie in real life. The reason I have decided to give her an alias is this: if she knew I was writing about her she’d be horrified.
There is every chance she’ll read this post and never speak to me again. It’s a risk I’m willing to take because, let’s face it, I’m a hella fun. She’s got a lot more to lose from the termination of our friendship than I have (just jokes, I love you Marie. Don’t leave me).
Unlike my other friends Marie is a private person. Type her name into google (you can’t, you don’t know it) and there will be not a trace. You would not learn anything about her at all, except for what she does as a job and how long she’s been doing it.
Marie is the place I go to in my mind when my self-esteem is curdling and I want to feel better about being single. She has been single ever since I’ve known her, which is a very long time. And there is nothing wrong with Marie. She is everything anybody ever wanted in a woman. She is incredibly beautiful. Like a movie star on a good day. All tumbling blonde locks, button nose and big Disney eyes with endless lashes. She is kind, clever and stylish. Once, she wore a pillow case to a party and all the other guests stared at her with envy and asked, ‘where did you get that amazing top?’ She is also rake thin, with buttermilk skin. I’d hate her, if she hadn’t won me over by failing so spectacularly in the romance department. She’s a disaster. For example: she asks me for advice about men and listens when I give it to her.
If Marie is single, then being single is the thing to be. You would not look at her life and feel even a passing shadow of pity – you’d just rue the day that you stood behind her in the queue, waiting while God bestowed all the best qualities upon her and then put you together from was left over: breasts and acne.
The bad news is that Marie seriously jeopardised our friendship on Saturday, by calling and telling me that she has found a man. To love. And have sex with. I almost started to dislike her, until her new-found romance reminded me of two very important points. The first of which was this: nobody admirable defines themselves by their romantic relationships.
You can always gauge precisely how tedious a person is by timing how long it takes them to tell you about their lover, partner or spouse. Marie did very well in this department. It took her a whole twenty minutes and considerable prompting before she disclosed details of her new romance. She, like anyone worth knowing, had other shit to talk about.
The other thing speaking to Marie reminded me was that a relationship will not, indeed should not, make a fundamental difference to how you feel about life and, most importantly, about yourself. ‘Its just the same.’ She said, ‘but now, I sometimes see him.’
You are you. It is very easy to forget that when you’re single. You are fabulous, sometimes. Other times you arrive at work late, wearing ketchup stained pyjama trousers, hoping to convince your colleagues that you’re rocking chic new day wear. Sex, even regular sex with someone who makes your tummy flip over and your face break into a beaming great smile when they enter a room, will not change that.
Unless you hook up one of those psychos who cuts you off from your family and convinces you that your fabulous is a mental illness in disguise.
I’ll say no more, but I’ll leave you with the words of my favourite verse of Billy Joel’s My Life – a song that will have to serve as the sole boost to my self-esteem now that Marie has gone and found herself a lover.
First they’ll tell you you can’t sleep alone in a strange place
Then they’ll tell you you can’t sleep with somebody else
Ah but sooner or later you sleep in your own space
Either way it’s okay you wake up with yourself.
Beautiful, innit? And true.