Did he know where I was? Did he even care? I don’t think he did – at least that’s what I told myself every day when I woke up to see an empty bedside. It’s so crazy how you can go from being so intimate with someone one minute to blocking them off your Instagram or Facebook.
The linen sheets were cool upon my naked skin and slipped into the creases of my body like chocolate oozing into perfectly shaped molds. Come to think of it, the only chocolate moulds I’ve ever owned are penis shaped - a wedding gift from my nutjob of a best friend, Jodie. But I’ll tell you more about her later.
I had spent my early 20s teaching high schoolers and loved every single minute of it. I regularly embarrassed myself and the kids - my most memorable moment being when I accidentally locked myself and 30 of my Year 9s in a classroom by accident. I’d panicked and tried to yank the door open, and my newly stuck on false nails went flying off into the air, hitting a student in the eye. who then had to be airlifted to hospital.
Safe to say I now always carry nail glue. In fact, as a joke every year Jodie always buys me nail glue so I never cause another child to be airlifted. She’s funny like that.
Anyway, after leaving my teaching job in a high school in Kent which I truly did adore, I spent the next 10 months attempting to travel the world like Liz Gilbert in Eat, Pray Love. Instead I’d ended up in France, Austria, Belgium, and Ireland. And I was finishing my year’s ‘travelling’ in Barcelona. My personal favorite out of them all - which is where this story begins.
I’d intended on exploring the whole world as a child; always making myself paper planes and pretending that I would one day be onboard one, travelling to the likes of Macchu Pichu, spending a year with a tribe of naked Native Indians or perhaps waking up with someone to watch the sun rise and set on The Great Wall of China. Speaking of camping, I had tried to persuade my Mum to camp with me once but she had refused and said (and these are her words entirely) “I am not going to shit in a hole darling or use a shared shower. Do you want me to get chlamydia?”
Those plans of being a cultured traveller well and truly went down the shitter when my now ex-husband decided to run off with one of his apprentices a year ago and take our entire bank account with him.
My ex-husband was a lawyer, he knew the system – I wanted an amicable split, he wanted to make sure that I knew that without him, I was in fact worth nothing. My friend Jodie refuses to refer to him with any other name but knobwank nowadays. Quite rightly so.
I was lying lazily on my Spanish mattress which was propped up on bricks and it was actually surprisingly comfy. It was just like having a constant acupuncture, you didn’t dare move but after a while it felt good.
The Barcelona sun had always peeked through the window every morning, shining down across that bedside where his body used to be all those years ago, and the sunshine was gladly welcomed every single day, unlike him. The sun tinted my skin, it made my nose glow and my shoulders shimmer.
The sunshine is ‘hermosa’ so they say; I first remember hearing that word down by the marina in Barcelona. A young Papa described his child as being hermosa. With my blondness, tendency to daydream, and obsession with food, I thought he was talking about samosas at first, but overtime I’ve learnt about a very magical thing known as Google Translate, and I’m getting a little better with my, er… Española!
Beautiful, that sunshine was. As beautiful as that small girl sat beside me on the marina that day. Her eyes, blue, were as piercing and as mesmerizing as the ocean, and her skin golden, glistening like the sand. Her ears were pierced and she wore her hair in two buns on top of either side of her head, and small ringlets fell behind each ear.
The small girl I am describing is one of the many reasons I fell head over heels for Spain. The day that I saw her on the marina was on the afternoon of the morning I had arrived, and I was captivated by how loved she was. It juxtaposed my own unloved feeling following recent events and it healed me somehow. I fell for the culture because of the pure beauty of it.
Beauty is hard to find these days. Heartbreak on the other hand, well, it’s as common as a cold.
I don’t know how I hadn’t guessed earlier, I never suspected the guy I’d loved since I was 17 to become the man I would marry, the man I would love, and the man I would eventually find with another woman’s panties in his top drawer. I confronted him about the underwear, and he said he’d bought them for me and that he wasn’t ‘screwing another chick’. As a friend of mine always says, cheaters will go to incredible lengths to hide their affair. I guess the pants in his draw were a major slip up because it could have been the moment I discovered he was cheating, but he convinced me otherwise with his sly and persuasive lies. And Hamilton had this way of making you believe anything he said, he had me wrapped around his finger whilst he was screwing someone else.
Yes, Hamilton (the ex hubby) was a fan of the ladies, and an even bigger fan of the female anatomy. It’s taken me a whole year to be able to curse his name, without feeling guilty.
After the first few months following the divorce I kept reanalyzing my decision to divorce him. Was it me and not him? Had I caused the fling he had because I wasn’t around? Or was it all just in my head? Then I thought, fuck it, he’s the one in the wrong for putting his dick where he shouldn’t have. Gosh I am turning into Jodie more and more with my frequent expletives. Heartbreak changes you.
After a year of so-called travelling I can answer every single one of those questions. Hamilton was, is, and will forever be a knob and that’s not my fault… it’s his parents’, right? I didn’t make him after all… I bet that sperm is regretting its little venture to the eggs-directory.
I never imagined I’d become the stronger person, but I did. I feel like a new woman. A new, 26-year-old single woman. Still younger than ever. Or so I kept telling myself – though I am pretty sure I had seen a grey hair down there the other day, I mean what the… fuzz. Where are my tweezers?
I forced myself to emerge from my bricky, Barcelonian bed and peeled the covers away from my midriff, I pushed the linen aside and turned my legs to the edge of the bed, dangling my feet like Dad and I used to do when we would go crabbing on the Island.
Dad had taught me to dip my toes in the water, and to dive in, no life vest – though I must say, my dive is much more widely described, by dictionary definition as a full on belly flop. I am not graceful whatsoever, but I embrace it. Also, don’t dive in if it’s shark infested waters because that wouldn’t exactly end well. You might not have any toes to dip into the water if you do...
I leant across to the bedside table, turned on my radio, and thought – what other way to wake up than with a song? John Mayer erupted from the speakers at the touch of a button and as always, his voice was gladly welcomed.
I stretched my arms up above my head, making sleepy flamenco movements with my hands to the sexy and sweet serenade, and then joined my hands together, making a slightly orgasmic, satisfactory noise. I hoped Agustina next door hadn’t heard me. She is forever banging on (excuse the expression) about me missing out on what her husband gives her. Seriously, Augustina is 67 years old, and the walls are as thin as toilet paper that your fingers slide through. I hear everything. And I mean the whole sha-BANG.
I placed my feet on the warmed-by-the-Barcelonan-sunshine marbled floor, I wandered into the kitchen, swaying to the music as I went. Though not completely elegantly as I stubbed my toe on the edge of the kitchen table and yelled out, “Shit. Fuck. Shit!”.
It wasn’t exactly the type of kitchen you’d see in IKEA, but it did the job – I mean, I wasn’t ever starving, which is always a positive, right?
I dreaded having to leave Barcelona because I’d fallen in love with it, but I knew that when I got home I wouldn’t miss it - I didn’t get attached anymore. I guess Hamilton (from now on to be referred to as Dick because frankly I’m feeling hormonal, and well, the name suits him) has a lot to do with my impermanence, my hesitance and my lack of trust in men. When I left him and began my travels, I was probably 1% (tops) myself and now I’m probably 99.9% me. Just that 0.1% is missing, and I’m not quite sure what it is.
Suddenly being a divorced woman at twenty-five has a way of dropping you right in the deep end. You’re at that time in your life when you want a mature man, but all the good ones are taken. So instead the only penises you see are on Spanish subtitled reruns of Embarrassing Bodies.
Twenty-five is also the age when you’re watching everyone else get knocked up (but not in an unplanned kind of way). I mean my Nana used to always ring up and ask when I was going to give her some grandchildren as if they just grow on trees.
My reply? Well Nana, when there’s an option to impregnate oneself I will let you know.
So there I was, younger than ever, thinking I’d be happily married for the rest of my life, to my high school sweetheart. How cliché that he ran off with another woman younger than him and twice his size – she might as well have been in high school.
But when I walked out on Hamilton a lot of people walked into my life – my absolutely crazy family and friends.
My family isn’t too big, but it isn’t too small either, it’s just right - I wonder where I got my inspiration from there?.
I’ve got the typical Mum and Dad who’ve been rocky, a totally awesome step brother Noah, and his wife Izzy, and their two kiddos.
My step-brother, Noah, is the definition of perfect. Always on time, a smooth talker, no reason not to like him. He was there for me throughout the heartbreaks pre-Hamilton, during-Hamilton and post-Hamilton, and has stuck by my side until this day.
Noah was always the Ross Gellar type, constantly droning on about T-Rex’s, raving about the most recent Dinosaur books, or zoning into NASA TV every Thursday evening. He was the geeky one, and I was the utter nutcase with a henna tattoos everywhere (needles aren’t my thing) and wacky blonde and pink hair.
The back story of Noah’s conception is pretty interesting so listen up and grab a notepad, because this is quite the story.
Noah had never met his paternal Dad. Mum said it had been a one night stand in her hippie stage, with a younger man. She didn’t even know his name, or so that’s what she had said at the time. She hadn’t loved him. She’d slept with him in an attempt to make my Dad jealous, who was her on-off boyfriend at the time.
We have a difficult and complicated family, so keep up.
Mum never got the chance to tell Noah’s real Dad about his existence as she left the morning after, without uttering a word, and told me that even if she’d have had the chance to tell him, she wouldn’t have. My Mum is pretty stubborn in that way. She’s an independent soul, but sometimes her independence pushes people away.
The one night stand with Noah’s Dad resulted in her pregnancy, because, shall we say, he didn’t glove his baby making device. For years my Dad was convinced Noah was his kid.
Mum kept the real truth a secret. God knows how she did it.
If you know anyone that knows me, they will tell you I am the worst liar on the planet. You wouldn’t want me as your lawyer, let’s put it that way my.
But when Noah got a little older and looked seemingly more and more like the guy my Mum had had a fling with, Dad started questioning what Mum did that summer - and so the truth came out.
Mum finally cracked like a teapot dropped onto marble floor.
Cutting a long story short, there was a near divorce, but then all was forgiven and Mum and Dad now live happily running a B&B in Surrey. Dad treats Noah as his son which is lovely, and as an outsider you’d be clueless about the real truth because Dad and Noah have the exact same mannerisms, just completely different looks.
When I reached my teenage years I did start to resent my Mum… I don’t think I could keep a secret so big from the one I loved. I guess you could say that in that way I’m pretty stubborn too. It takes a lot for me to change my opinion about something. Don’t get me wrong I get on with my Mum, but Dad is my first point of call. Dad just gets me. And to be honest, not many people do.
Going back to my brother, Noah was always the favored child, and I was always the imperfect one – the one under CIA monitoring at those compulsory family meals, in case any blasphemous words cascaded from my big mouth. Funny how I befriended Jodie who’s also got a big, blasphemous mouth, perhaps more so than me!
It was Noah who always looked after me when I was a tiddlywink – in fact it was Noah who persuaded me to venture out of our little town after my divorce. He told me if I didn’t, I would either a) end up marrying a guy that didn’t deserve me, or b) turn into one of those weird cat ladies. And I’m allergic to cats so that would be really, really crappo.
My big brother married Izzy – who’s a Doctor – at 21, and they had their first child at 22. They did it all the ‘right way’. Though by my calculation, my nephew Niall was a little early being born… Hmmm… Golden child not so much eh Noah?
I love being an Aunty. It’s kind of like that advantage of buying a dress that you can return; if the kids start kicking off and throwing Cheerios at each other, they’re not yours, so you can just pass them back to their rightful owners.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, but I wouldn’t want to have them with a guy just for the sake of proving to my Grandma that I’m not asexual. And after all it’s unlikely I could ever conceive, but that’s between me and you. I’ll tell you about it later.
I have one nephew, Niall (the one who was obviously a little earlier than planned…) and one niece, Jessie. I love them to bits. So, for now, those guys are my practice run for when I do have a bun in the oven.
Emphasis on the when there. In fact I don’t even have an oven in my apartment in Barcelona. More like a bun in the microwave. Eugh, the waitress wage.
Flicking on the coffee machine, the smell of caffeine filled the kitchen and pleased my senses. Morning coffee was my daily wake up treat. Who needs a man when they have coffee? At least coffee tastes nice when it’s in your mouth…
In Spain, coffee is considered to be more important than food itself. And I’ve got to say, it beats most men too. Coffee doesn’t demand sex. Coffee doesn’t hurt you. And coffee is always waiting for you in the morning when you wake up, not many men are - I can tell you that from experience.
Taking my freshly brewed coffee, I grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl and a magdalena that was staring me down on top of the bread bin, and made my way out onto the terrace. Placing myself down on one of the chairs, I rested my bare feet on the warm table-top as the sunrays rose from the East. What a view. Barcelona was so quiet beneath me; it was a strange place but so beautiful too. The culture was the total opposite to my home, but I liked it. At 6am I could already hear the seagulls flying above me and the erupting quietness of the sleepy hustle and bustle cascading from the stoned streets.
I heard a buzz coming from within the kitchen and dragged my sleepy feet to retrieve it. I nearly dropped my phone with the excitement of what I read.
Hey foxy lady, I’m in Barcelona nxt week with work, could I stay with u pleeeaassseeee! I have concert tickets… and many other bribes if u try and say no to my amazing company you sexy bitch.
Love you nutcase.
(AKA fellow nutcase)
p.s. are you having lots of rampant sex with a Spanish senor as we speak?
It’s odd how much you begin to miss what you know when you move away from home. Jodie and I have been friends from the very beginning – she has been there for me since puberty (which was a long time ago) through the troubled teenage years when I decided to dye my hair yellow, the Hamilton years including the engagement, the marriage and the consequent divorce, and life even to this day.
Jodie is a solicitor who works for an international real estate firm, she’s always flying out here there and everywhere – and it’s not often our travelling paths cross. So when they rarely do, I turn into crazy-nutcase-friend mode and splurge on the necessities:
More wine and whisky… Jodie likes whisky, oooohhh and hot chocolate
Whilst multitasking writing down my girly week shopping list and stuffing a Magdalena down my throat I texted Jodie back.
Yo sister from another mister. Yes yes yes. Please. I could do with some company before I leave in a few weeks. Writing down shopping list essentials as we speak. Love and miss you. Gonna go shower now because I’m a dirty girl lol. Posy xxxx
p.s. and no, I am officially a practicing mermaid. Legs glued shut involuntarily babe
I chuckled to myself as I finished constructing my text. Concluding my last mouthful of Magdalena and coffee, I clicked send and headed for a shower, throwing off my dressing gown onto my bed in a very unrehearsed, unsexy strip show kind of way. I was pretty hot so a cold shower it was. Before climbing in, I paused to catch myself in the mirror - my little post-breakfast food baby making an appearance.
Then I heard a ding from within the shower which made me jump, I thought it must be a Facebook notification – after all, Jodie wouldn’t text back that quick. It usually takes her a week tops to reply to any message.
The water was trickling along the curves of my shoulders and down the edges of my shoulder blades when I heard someone knocking.
Shit. Shit balls.
I quickly grabbed a towel and put one foot out of the shower, but there was water on the floor that had leaked from the crappy pipes and I went flying into the air, landing flat bang on my bum, my legs spread eagle – and not in a satisfactory way.
I rubbed my sore bum and quickly grabbed my dressing gown from the door knob to cover my nakedness. I thought how lovely it would be to see Jodie soon, whilst on my way to answer the door.
Afterall, what better way to spend my last few weeks in Spain than with no one other than my best friend?
I reached the door and fumbled around with the locks made for someone as talented as Houdini to undo. Yes, voila! It opened.
And guess who was standing there screaming the entire apartment block down?
“Surprise sexy lady!” she screamed.
“But… how… what... OH MY GOD YOU’RE HERE… NOW! I’m… I’m … Naked, actually!” I blurted out, and chuckled to myself, a huge belly laugh erupted from us both.
And Jodie, being the friend that Jo is tugged on my towel as we’re greeting each other with a huge hug – and within seconds I was stood stark naked outside my own apartment. Talk about making sure the neighbors remember who you are. We both burst out laughing. It was going to be a fun week – I could feel it.
Jodie’s the type of friend who will fart in the cubicle next to you and then shout out “Aww babe, you gotta cut down on those onions or at least take an Immodium!!” Yeah that type of friend. The one you want to kill sometimes.
Jodie and I spent the evening talking on and on about the gossip back in Kent. Jodie and I grew up together, went through the heartbreaks together, but the difference was that Jodie is a single woman by choice, and I’m not. We drowned ourselves in extra large glasses of wine and pathetically cried on each other’s shoulders watching a late night re-run of Marley & Me, in Spanish. We even cried without the fucking audio. Dogs dying are a no go for me and Jo.
We had slowly gone through the wine stages – it started off with the giggly stage where you laugh at ANYTHING, then the zoning out stage, and then the serious “are you sure you’re not lonely?” area. I remember when I was about 17, my Mum treated me to my first glass of wine whilst we were out one summer afternoon and I showed up at my Grandma’s in full on giggly mode. Oooppsss.
The wine brought up conversations of the past, of times when we had both been happier than we were in that moment.
Jodie asked me if I had heard from Hamilton as she’d seen him in the supermarket back home, he’d been with another woman whom she’d heard him calling something along the lines of Bel Bel or Squishy (VOM) – obviously not the same one he’d run off with when he decided to turn our already unhappy marriage into shreds.
The truth was, I hadn’t heard from Hamilton since the day I walked out of that house. His lawyer had contacted me, but Hamilton had wiped me off his chalkboard and replaced me with a shiny new one with fake boobs to go with it.
Jodie asked me something I hadn’t really ever considered that night which was, “Do you still love him?”.
A tear fell down my face as I contemplated the sheer reality of my life in that moment.
“No,” I said, “I think what I miss the most is what could have been… I, I miss what we had planned to do together, but the thought of him ever laying a hand upon me again – No, I don’t miss that. I actually resent the fact that I let him have a hold on me for so long. Missing him is the last thing on my mind.”
Jodie pushed a strand of my hair behind my ear and gently rested her head on my shoulder. A gesture where no words were needed.
I smiled to myself after a while and said, “Though, if I’m being honest – I do miss sex. Not with him because it was like a ride at Alton Towers that desperately needed renovating. But, I think if I don’t find someone soon it’s going to dry up like a desert down there!”
“Well when’s the last time you, you know?” asked Jodie cheekily.
“Haha a few weeks ago with this wanker of a guy called Alfie Dalton. He was good though, he knew his way around-”
“Your log flume?” Jodie interrupted.
“You my dear have a way with words. Yes, he knew how to handle a log flume.”
And within moments Jodie and I had gone from the serious wine stage right back into full on giggle mode.
We then began discussing how I’d found a grey hair down below, and then Jodie, being very nearly off her face on Shiraz went into the bathroom to inspect her own belongings for peace of mind! What else are friends for, right?