Tuesday, July 8

On Silliness

IF I WERE TO relay to you the reason I broke up with my boyfriend, you would most likely think I’m a silly person, a terrible partner or maybe somewhat insane, fickle, flighty; I assure you I am not. Others among you might recognise the situation and hold me up as your hero, perhaps sketching me on the back of unopened post with a nearby biro or telling your friends about me with a detectable sense of admiration in your voice that even your nearest and dearest are envious of.
We broke up on a Sunday morning while deciding where to go for breakfast, my boyfriend of four years and I.
He – a vegan – was decided upon a vegan cafĂ©, his heart set on it.
I – a vegetarian – said—‘What about me? What if I fancy an egg or some yoghurt?’ He stuck to his guns and I to mine. We didn’t have breakfast.
I had a falafel wrap on my way to a friend’s house and wore sunglasses so that people could not see the tears running down my cheeks, caught on the black rims. It was not long after that I moved from York, where I had lived with him for three years, to London. My boss was very understanding and I was able to obtain a transfer within the company; a vacancy had opened up in Sloane Square and I was promised more money and, with it, more responsibilities and opportunities. It was so that I thought all love was silly, that I was done with it and having broken myself from that long relationship, I had, by some miracle, taken years off my life, for better or for worse.
It was in this shop that I made many new friends with whom I would go out on Friday nights. It was something for me to go out to bars and clubs once more. Single as I was and striking fists at the haunting memories over my shoulder, I indulged in many affairs that lasted only an evening and a half morning and they confirmed to me that love was silly and that I was done with it. Sometimes I would be filled with regret and want him back but I knew that it was only a moment and it would pass; love is silly and I was done with it.
One Saturday morning I had to work and was unready for it, seeing as I had spent most of the previous night awake and suddenly drunk with a young man whose profession I could not remember.
My friend, Claudia, and I had retreated, with some good fortune, to the storeroom.
Dozily we rearranged items, taking stock and between the long comfortable silences we had recently found ourselves in, I, within my tired mind, was thinking of how silly love is and how I was done with it. It was not in my habit to be so inquisitive to ask such a question but I did—
‘How did your parents meet, Claudia?’
‘O, don’t!’ she said—‘It makes me feel so hopeless.’
My interest was stirred and, needing little excuse, I stopped what I was doing and paid her full attention between the dimly-lit shelves where we were stood and not moving.
‘My dad is German, right, and my mum is English . . . British. And, way back, they both had to attend this yearly conference in Munich for work . . . I dunno what it was about. But, anyway, after the conference all of them have gone to this restaurant, right, and my dad sees my mum stood at the bar, ordering a drink or whatever, and he thinks she’s the most beautiful women he’s ever seen . . . he says . . . so he goes over to her and tries to speak to her but he can’t speak English and she can’t speak German. So they sort of hang around each other all night but neither can understand the other . . . beside, like, expressions and that. So the conference ends and my dad can’t stop thinking about my mum and how she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, right, and he’s obsessed with her. So he learns English and hopes that she’s at the conference again the next year. So he learns English during that whole year and he goes to the conference and she’s there again and he goes up to her and he says hello to her in English and starts to talking to her in English . . . and she replies in German.’
Love is silly and I was done with it, but it made me smile that she referred to them as mum and dad despite them being nothing more than strangers the first time they met.

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