Waking up with a full day off ahead of you and the endless possibilities contained therein. Nothing is too ridiculous or too indulgent to be a viable way to spend the day. Going to an exhibition. Changing your hair ribbon three times. Watching 5 episodes of Bojack. Re-reading your old diaries for half an hour and then finishing a box of Easter eggs in bed. Talking to your housemates about Domhnall Gleeson vs James Franco for 2 hours in the garden.
The excitement of the first date: the skirt and top combo from last week, or the nice dress you got yesterday? How much DO you like this guy? The politics of who chooses the pub. If you take him to your local, does that impact your option of sacking him off? What if he starts going there? The joy of the text afterwards, the air punch when he wants to see you again. The secret smile to yourself when you get a house number and a postcode. Or the comfort of returning to your same bedroom and your same cozy sheets after a shit night. The pointed satisfaction in being the first one to ignore: archive the chat; remove the number, delete the standby friend request. The relief that you didn’t waste time tidying your room. The wonder of being back in time for the 10pm Eastenders repeat.
The laughter when you regale this to your friends. The chat over brunch, and the joy of being the one with all the tales. That really short guy who tried to kiss you on a tube platform, the weirdo who suggested McDonalds after the pub, the odd lanky fella who wore dungarees and professed to be in love with Matty Healy. The guy who sent you a picture of his driving license when you asked what he did for a job. The sheer number of bizarre people traipsing round London, quirks and kinks flailing around for all to see, dating profiles akimbo, everybody lumped in together just searching for a warm place to spend the night under someone else’s blanket.
The stroll home in the morning, somebody else’s shirt that is ill-fitting but also impossibly lovely. You’ve got a collection of these shirts on the shelf closest to the floor. A miniature museum of the nights you did not return. Maybe you had a cup of tea in the morning, maybe you didn’t, but either way you’ve got a smile on your face. Because it’s sunny, or you feel safe, or you’re turning onto a familiar road and you’re nearly home, and he had a cat, and he said nice things about your eyes. “Looking into your eyes is like searching for treasure”. A compliment is still a compliment.
In the weeks and months and years to come you’ll forget the name, the address, the breakfast (or lack thereof) and whatever you decided to wear. But you might remember the cat, or the first kiss. You might hang on to the t-shirt. And when other boys come to stay and say nice things about your eyes, somewhere in the back of your brain you’ll hear a faint echo about searching for treasure, a remnant of all the people who have loved you, even if just for a second. Go home and turn adventures into art; commemorate them in a song. Gather up the compliments like a shield, or a montage, or a bouquet. These are the joys of being single, of being open, of living out in the world and not hiding away in wait. There are a lot worse reasons to stay the night than “cat”.