I very rarely kiss someone the first time I meet them. But that happened last time I was in Manchester. It was three years ago. She had been working with my best friend on a show, doing practical things rather than showing off. She does practical things for a living. I caught the last night of the show, and we all went dancing. She stayed sober and drove me home. There was kissing. “I’ll see you next time I’m in town,” I said starry-eyed, somehow believing it would be tomorrow.
Three years later I’m finally back and I’m in the café of the RNCM, on a coffee break from tech. This is yesterday. There is an attractive practical woman who has been wearing a headset and herding actors. We are in the queue together for coffee and “You look really familiar,” she says. And the penny drops It’s her. What are the chances? And did I call her? Did I bollocks. I tell her the show we met and the friend we met through, and we have some small talk. An elephant comes and sits in the room with us and farts.
The next few times I see her either I’m busy, she’s busy or both of us are busy. And even if I’m not busy, I’m busy. Then this evening after the show she’s sitting alone in the bar reading the programme. My friends have just left. Well Carpe Diem and all that, says Robin Williams. So I join her.
She’s married now.
If I was a sleazebag I’d have noticed the ring immediately. It’s pretty big now I know to look. The elephant runs off trumpeting. And we have a very congenial conversation. “I liked being single, but all my friends got married, so I got a job in a bar and met my husband.” I find myself telling her I know how she felt. So many of my close friends are settling down and having kids while I run around in circles. I tell her “I kind of like being single too. That’s the problem, it’s habit forming.” As I say it, I wonder if it’s true. It’s hard to know our own minds sometimes. I think it must be true or I would have done something about it. Or would I? Fuck knows. I get lonely. Who doesn’t? You can be lonely in a relationship too. That’s just humanity. Sometimes I get hit hard by a sense of isolation. Perhaps when I want to trial an insignificant feeling I’m having about something trivial, perhaps where I just want to say goodnight to someone, perhaps when I see something simple and beautiful and want to share it. But I’ve got a rich existence and a happy one. And my friends are great. And the show went well tonight. All this big grand romantic doomed passion and emotion and death playing out with song and dance and fighting. No wonder I’m hoping for a Maria – ideally one that doesn’t mean I end up getting shot.
For now though I’m off to sleep in my little cubicle…