I have paired each course with a piece of music and a drink selection.
Music: Gravity by Sara Bareilles
Drinks recommendation: 24 vodkas with cranberry juice
We left Polaris in silence. Or rather he left us in silence. After two months of said silence I said:
If we saw each other in the street, we would blank each other. And that is ridiculous and sad. If you want to leave things as they are, that’s up to you.
He replied: I feel the same as I did.
Ah that’s my Polaris. King of the ambiguous answer. Prince of the non-committal pause. Serial denier. Dealer in doublespeak. Spinner of half-truths and damner of lies.
You might think I was looking for subtext where none existed. But I knew his moves even if I didn’t know his motives. Before the sun had set, he asked me when he could see me. Before the Earth had revolved on its axis once more, we were back together.
He opened the door that he had shut in my face – literally and metaphorically. The moment we were together again, it felt perfect, like a blessed relief that all was as it should be. I sat on the floor in front of the sofa while we watched one of the election debates, and he put his hands on my shoulders (because it was always him that would reach out to touch me – I did not imagine that). I remember thinking with absolute certainty that this is how we were meant to be. I wonder now what he was thinking. I dread to think what he was thinking.
We moved forward with abundant optimism. I attribute much of our hopefulness to Corbyn’s good showing in the election. For a time, it felt like something impossible could become inevitable. But in the same way Labour did not actually win that election, Polaris and I made too much of that early rally of affection.
I told Polaris we could not get back together unless we were in a committed relationship – no more lack of definition. He agreed to this, to my surprise. Although I never heard him call me his girlfriend, he did make an effort to introduce me to friends and include me in plans. He started talking long term, very long term, in fact.
Don’t think I fell for it. I’m a mug not a sucker. My continuing skepticism was a problem – listening out for the sound of the second shoe. “You can be cynical, or you can trust me,” Polaris said over and over. And I put my trust in him because he asked for it.
You may recall that Polaris had “fooled around” with a good friend of his earlier in the year after we broke up, and this remained a sore point. Let’s call her Priscilla. They were still good friends. I trusted him but felt Priscilla should know that I knew what had happened. I didn’t want her to think that they had a secret from me, and I thought these things fade quicker in the light. He teased me about her often, to get a reaction, loving to spark my jealousy. In the end, we agreed it was best to forget it and move on.
This was shortly before my birthday and following the success of our Monopoly bar crawl the year before, I requested a bigger, better pub crawl as a gift. We settled on the Circle Line. This was 27 stops on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year.
We learnt our lessons from the previous crawl, when we had fallen at the 20th pub, out of a target 24. We ate earlier. Polaris stuck to half pints. We made good time walking between stops.
Here’s a tip – if you want to make a painful breakup last longer, I highly recommend visiting dozens of pubs across London with the architect of your pain. This ensures that you can no longer walk down a street in your beloved hometown without memories biting you on the arse at every step. Sometimes, even now, I feel the punch in my gut as a familiar street closes in around me, a torturous reminder of happiness and hurt.
Perhaps I should have questioned the wisdom of getting so very drunk with someone who has proved so very unreliable. But for every step, for every sip of that epic challenge, we were the perfect couple. Conversation did not run dry. We spurred each other on. We did not bicker. The sexual bond and connection between us was like a fluffy dog you can’t help squeezing and cooing over. My hero even persuaded the manager in Wetherspoons to serve me at stop 23.
After stop 24, three drinks from a victory about which songs would have been written, Polaris pulled me out of the game. He said I was too drunk and ordered us back to the hotel. I argued a lot with this decision – I was adamant I could avoid alcohol poisoning for another 30 minutes.
I confess I was drunk. Fall down, wobble about, glazed over, stinking drunk. As drunk as a person can be and still approximate standing. Hell – I was so drunk they almost refused to serve me in a ‘Spoons!
By the time we reached the hotel room, he was irritated. This was fair enough – I was being annoying. I had been furious that he had called time on the crawl. I had cried the heartfelt tears of the inebriated. Now I jumped on the bed. I jumped on the sofa. I clambered on him, cajoling him to bed, trying to drag him from his mood.
“I looooooove yoooooooooo!” I howled in a silly voice.
I am generally a happy and exuberant drunk. And it was my birthday. And I wanted to make out. And I didn’t want Polaris to be grumpy with me because I’d been a dick about stopping the crawl.
“I loooooooooove yooooooooo,” I purred, with all the seductive intent of cold custard.
After a day of talking and laughing and togetherness, in a luxurious room in the St Pancreas Renaissance Hotel, on my 41st birthday, Polaris turned to me and said:
“I don’t love you and I probably never will.”
I wish I was so drunk I could not remember it.
“I don’t love you and I probably never will.”
The silence was kinder.
This is not the worst of it.