We catch up with Lizzie, in her bed, on 31st December 2019.
A mental stab pushes me out of sleep into the zone between oblivion and awareness, the holding bay outside time or space where nothing is tangible except for the dread.
Was it something I said?
Was it something I bought?
I know! It’s the lingering feeling of being an irresponsible loser who has messed up 2019 and is about to do the same to 2020.
I blame Patti for this, my latest burst of pessimism.
A real-life encounter with one of her favourite new age authors has convinced her she has psychic powers and, unfortunately, she doesn’t restrict herself to ‘reading’ her own men.
‘I never thought the New Yorker was for you,’ she said today over lunch at Cafe Rouge. We had a wobbly table with insufficient room for our plates, and we were so close to the entrance that I felt the touch of icy winds every time the door was opened.
‘You’ve never met him,’ I said.
‘I don’t need to. I sense a darkness there. It runs in his family.’ She sipped Merlot, moving her head from side to side.
‘He’s divorced,’ I said. ‘But I promise you there’s no darkness.’
‘He wasn’t present in the moment, even before he ghosted you.’
‘He didn’t ghost me.’
But there was no stopping Patti. ‘It’s the way dating works nowadays.’ She pushed skinny fries around her plate. ‘Welcome to my world.’
‘The New Yorker wasn’t from an app.’
‘They’re all the same.’
How can she seriously believe that? The truth is that I lost my chance with the New Yorker due to the unfortunate taxi incident and the text messages that sent themselves that night when I’d had too much Prosecco. He was the normal one, not me. If Patti can’t understand that, I’m not interested in her opinions. So I kept silent, wondering instead how she and I had managed to remain friends. This, in turn, triggered a pang of guilt that led to me paying for our steak frites and bottle of wine which, considering the state of my bank account, made me think of the phrase ‘a fool and his money soon part ways,’ quoted so beautifully by Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey.
So, here I lie. Boyfriendless with an interior design business that looks good from the outside but is really only holding up because of my new mortgage and a cash Christmas present from my parents. Which is going to last six months.
The fact that I let it get this far leads me to question my own sanity as well as Patti’s. Not an entirely unusual activity, except this time there’s also good reason to be concerned for Stacey who is back with John ‘because he insisted’. Where is the logic in that? She doesn’t love him. She doesn’t even fancy him. The other day she told me that she pretends to be asleep when he gets into bed. And it’s not only because he says ‘over-exaggerate’.
It bodes badly for our celebration tonight. The lively girls’ dinner followed by drinks at The White Horse now tragically involves one awkward couple and two single women plus Rick, John’s colleague from the estate agency, who is at a loose end due to his wife having walked out on Boxing Day. As in walked out. Bag packed and ‘you’ll hear from my solicitor – I’m sure we can work it out’. She’d already signed the lease on a one-bed flat in Tooting.
‘Rick is really, really, upset,’ said Stacey on the phone.
Happy New Year!
Elizabeth Sand has been writing about her life, dates and insomnia for Funny Pearls since 2018