Monday, July 20, 2009

First Time for Everything

After a week and a half of kid filled chaos and family jaunts I finally had a boy-free weekend to go and celebrate my friends 40th birthdays. Although I never thought I would celebrate it with my first one-night-stand.

Yep, Ms Celibate from Chicago has morphed into Ms Strumpet from Shenfield. The Essex roots have obviously taken no time in coming to the fore.

I must say, despite being brought up by my mother to be the type of girl Who Would Never Do That Sort of Thing, having had such a delightful experience I think I might be converted. From possible Nunnery candidate to floozy in just 12 hours. Well, I did say that this would be the year that I concentrated on trying new things.

The birthday party was being held at Luton Hoo - a beautiful 5 star stately home just outside Luton (the clue being in the name of course). Not being able to afford to stay overnight at such a salubrious joint, my friend recommended I stay at a nearby Holiday Inn. 'Travel Man is staying there too, ' she said. 'I've passed on your number and you can share a taxi to and from the party.' Ooh. I had met Travel Man at my goddaughter's christening 7 years ago and had instantly liked him. I couldn't remember what he looked like, although bald struck a chord. Nevertheless, I did remember thinking he was really interesting, great company and from the North. And I have always been a bit of a sucker for a northern accent. This could be fun, I thought to myself.

Over the weeks before the trip my fertile mind began to imagine a one night stand scenario with Travel Man. I didn't really think it would happen, being the type of girl Who Would Never Do That Sort of Thing. But given that I have been sex starved for so long fantasies are pretty much all I can rely on, so it seemed pretty harmless to indulge my overactive imagination.

Finally the big day arrived and I whizzed off to Luton with my slinky dress, highest heels and a holdall full of sexy underwear. I dollied myself up to a presentable glamorous standard and waited for the arrival of Travel Man. And waited. He was late. Hmmm. Not quite so anxious to meet me then. Probably didn't even remember me. Oh well.

Finally he arrived and my memory had served me correctly. On all fronts.

We chatted in the taxi almost like old friends - there seemed to be an instant ease between us and I was really glad to see him again. Once at the party I switched name places so we could sit together - although we were so busy socialising that we didn't really talk exclusively. It was a fantastic party. Delicious food. Plenty of booze. A band to bop to. Lots of glamour, glitz and funny people to talk to (although the usual correlation between the quantity of alcohol qauffed and the social entertainment factor definitely applied).

After the party 'officially' ended many of the guests sojourned to a lounge area and serious drinking continued. I managed to nab Travel Man and force him into a comfy chair next to me so I could monopolise his attention for a while. We talked non-stop about our passions in life (it was a challenge to remember what my true passions were, with 'having a child-free day and a lie-in' being top of the list for so long). We liked reading similar books and had the same taste in music. After an hour or so the after party seemed to be coming to a close so we took advantage of sharing a taxi with some of the other guests. The journey home was a bit of a debacle, due to the cabbie being given details of the wrong hotel. After a quick jaunt around Luton Airport and then an unexpected detour up to junction 11 of the M1 we finally arrived back at the hotel at 3am. 'Okay then, music time', Travel Man announced and it seemed an unspoken agreement that we would both go back to his room.

Now, up until this point there hadn't really been anything about the evening that had suggested to me that my fantasy could become reality. Travel Man was certainly animated and friendly, but it all seemed so innocent and almost chum-like. So the idea of a one night stand seemed slightly preposterous. Well of course it would. Despite going to his room at 3 in the morning and after fantasizing about seducing the poor man for nearly 2 months, I was still at heart the type of girl Who Would Never Do That Sort of Thing.

We listened to music. Bruce Springsteen. Faithless. Morcheeba. Early Radiohead. And then finally - FINALLY - he made his move. Hurrah I thought. And then as the smooching slowly intensified 3 horrifying thoughts cross my mind.

Crap - what was he going to think when he discovered that my expensive bra featured far more gel than breast?

And worse - despite all the slinky knickers I had packed - I had resorted to wearing my M&S Magic Knickers. Or should that be Manky Knickers? Anyway, from belly button to knee all flesh was safely encased in the firmest hold lycra that modern day chastity belts are fashioned out of. Jesus, the first piece of love action in longer than I ever want to confess and I am wearing fucking granny pants.

To top it all, underneath that impenentrable layer of underwear was a pubic region that more closely resembled an overgrown English hedge rather than a neatly pruned love topiary.

Who did I think I was....Bridget Bloody Jones?

In a slight panic I excused myself and rushed to the loo. What were my options? Remove all offending underwear, hide it furtively under a towel and pretend I had been sexily commando all night? It was tempting. Create a reason to rush back to my room to replace the offending under garments maybe? But what excuse could I give? My slightly inebriated brain (and highly aroused body) weren't coming up with any plausible answers. So in the end my nerve deserted me - and I just decided to come clean and confess.

Of course, Travel Man thought it was hilarious and predictably a replay of the scene from Bridget Jones ensued. Oh well, you have to laugh. And there is something so sexy about a man with a big...sense of humour.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

We're All Going On A Summer Holiday...

Well, the suitcases are stuffed to the brim - going against all intentions of 'packing light'. And in three hours I will be in a car on my way to the airport with two over excited children and one, possibly grumpy, ex.

I feel unexpectedly terrified about this trip.

It's not the thought of the travel, though the prospect of the overnight flight doesn't exactly fill me with joyful anticipation.

It's not the thought of having the boys 24/7 for a whole month, because I know that I am going to be surrounded by the people that I love the most in the whole world and that there will be many days when I probably won't see the boys for dust.

So what is it then?

I think it is a reflection of the fact that this is my first official trip home with the boys as a single parent. And the first time I will have seen many of my friends since our split last November (although, bless them, they had all experienced our suffering for at least 2 years prior so it wasn't as though it was a surprise). For the past 9 months I have soldiered on - sometimes coping well and other times, not so much. Because I have had to. Because there isn't anyone here who can pick up the pieces if I fall apart. Essentially it's down to me to keep this family going and to ensure my boys are protected as much as possible by life's cruel turns.

And part of me so wants to give up putting on a brave face and reassuring everyone that I am okay, that this situation really is for the best, that we are all doing great given the circumstances. Part of me just wants the opportunity to express all the uncertainty and vulnerability that I truly feel inside - and know that there will be people there to catch me if I do fall into a snivelling, snot producing heap.

So that's why I am terrified. I am terrified of both falling apart. And of not falling apart. Of both showing my true emotions and of keeping the dam walls intact.

But either way, I know it won't really matter. Because I will be home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Date Night

So I went out on a date last night with this guy who is a friend of a friend. We have already met up a couple of times with my friend and her husband, but we finally met up just the two of us.

The first time we met it was, of course, a set up by my friend and I had no expectations. No actually, that's a lie. I had two expectations:

1) He would not be my type AT ALL, but would be totally into me and impossible to get rid of, rather like the mosquito bites that have been plaguing me all week

2) He would be a complete dish and I would be salivating wildly like a rabid dog desperate to quench her thirst, and he would have no interest in me whatsoever

What I didn't anticipate was being introduced to someone who I am very attracted to, have so much in common with and that the feeling appears to be mutual.

So he took me out for Sushi last night to one of my favourite restaurants and we talked non-stop for 3 hours. I was determined to actually let the man talk last night, because on the two previous occasions I had been so nervous that I had rambled on incessantly and he had barely had a chance to get a word in edgeways. I went out armed with 'conversation starters', prepared for a possible scenario of us just sitting mutely gazing into space but I needn't have worried. Conversation just flowed and eventually we were being turfed out of the restaurant by staff who were keen to start putting chairs on tables.

There was a slightly awkward moment when we were sitting back in the car. Is he going to kiss me? I was slightly terrified of this moment. Unnecessarily as it turned out. It was the perfect first kiss.

After, he sat back and looked at me and we smiled. 'Wow', he said, 'you're a really good kisser.' Really? I thought to myself. You haven't seen anything yet, sunshine. If you think that's something just wait till these little suckers get warmed up. But of course, being the demure lady that I am I just smiled enigmatically and then crashed my knee into glove compartment whilst trying to cross my legs in an effortlessly elegant and sexy manner.

And now of course I am jetting off to the UK tomorrow for 4 weeks with the boys in tow. I am so looking forward to it. Have been for months now.

But unexpectedly I have the possibility of something to look forward to when I get back.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Feeling the Fall Out

I always feel slightly treacherous when I want to talk about how I am really feeling - because most of my feelings for the past few months have revolved around me and my ex and it's hard to paint a decent picture of my ex on this blog because I only seem to blog about him when I am upset.

My ex is a really good man. He is a good dad. He works hard. He gives me money to live on. And most of the time he is the only person I can rely on being so far away from home.

When we met he whisked me off my feet. His adoration knew no bounds. We got married on the first anniversary of the night we met. He was the most romantic, loving guy I had ever met. I had never been treated so well and was sure that I would be loved that way forever.

If only it wasn't all in the past tense.

Sometimes I think that I am still in love with him. It's hard not to be nostalgic over all the incredible times we shared. It's hard not to miss being loved in that way. And sometimes I convince myself that there is a chance that we will get back together. That there is still something between us. I still find him attractive. He is still one of the smartest and funniest guys that I have ever met. I can get sad and angry and mad...then he sends me a funny email or a flirty text and all that is forgotten and the nostalgic veil comes down. And with it a smidgen of hope.

Then we are together in the same room and the only vibes I pick up are disdain and irritation.

After all this time, why does this still hurt so much? Why do I allow myself to get so upset? After all, this isn't some Hollywood movie. I am not some lovesick teenager. We went through so much angst for over 3 years. Why would I even waste the time convincing myself that things have changed?

And how can I expect to be moving on when I still feel this way?

Probably the hardest part for me is having the guy that professed the deepest, enduring love for me - the guy that put me up on a pedestal that I never wanted to be on in the first place - change his mind. The one thing he was adamant would NEVER happen. It would almost be easier if there had been another woman. But no. He just didn't love me anymore. Not only that, but he appeared to all intents and purposes to really dislike me, in a couldn't-bare-to-be-in-the-same-room with me type of way.

I have tried so hard to change. To consider my every action and its potential reaction. To be mindful of how I am treating everyone in my life. To be the best that I can be - and to keep striving to be better. But I am such a work in progress. I used to feel confident that I was a good friend and a good person. That confidence is hard to find now that I no longer see it reflected in his eyes. If I managed to turn him against me, what chance do I have with anyone else?

These feelings have intensified this week because I have been introduced to 'a man'. I had no expectations - but against all the odds this guy seems really nice. He's just my type in a fairly tall, dark and handsome kind of way. Acts like a grown up. Knows about wine. Loves to cook. Has kissable lips (not that they have been road tested...yet).

But all I can think is Why The Hell Would You Want To Go Out With Me? Really. Why?

I am over 40. I have 2 kids. I don't have any real discernible income apart from that which ex provides. Under this hair colour I am now apparently 80% grey (a truth that I sincerely wish my hairdresser had kept to herself, thank you very much). Okay, so I can throw the words 'bonkers' and 'barmy' and 'pavement' and 'trollied' into a conversation and I am sure that sounds very twee and British. Not that you know this yet, but I can also pole dance, lap dance and will probably orgasm if you ever decide to kiss me because, well, it really had been a very long time since there has been any shagging action.

But apart from that. And apart from the fact that I do quite fancy you - what is the point when I don't feel that I can ever trust anyone again? When I am not sure I can ever trust myself again? When I typically spend a night out furtively obsessing over married couples who still appear to have that vibe - who's husbands are still loving and attentive to their wives - and wonder, why is that not me?

What did I do that was so wrong? How did I turn my most ardent fan into someone who can barely tolerate me?

And how come I couldn't fix it?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

5 A Day

No I am not making reference to fruits and vegetables (heaven forbid - my 5 a day ingestion quota usually consists of cigarettes / cups of coffee / different bars of chocolate...I know if I have managed to limit myself to just 5 of each of the above, then it is the sign of a relatively good day).

I just wanted to share 5 things that have made me smile today...

1. Out of the mouth's of babes

On the school run today a song was being played on the radio. Both boys, as standard, asked what the song was called. Usually I have no idea and just make something up rather than deal with their indignation at not getting a seemingly simple question answered. But this time I didn't have to resort to fabrication. 'It's called Big Bird in a Small Cage', I answered. Much hilarity ensued as they pictured a wedged Big Bird from Sesame Street and I didn't have the heart to correct them. It was, after all, pretty funny. Then they asked, 'who sings the song?' This is always the follow up to the first question and, again, usually I try to look as if I am earnestly trying to remember, before just making it up. But once again I came up trumps.

'Well, this is a funny thing boys...tell me if there is a bit of his name that you think is cool. His name is Patrick (boy's surname).'

'Wow! Yes!', cries Johnny Drama. '...Just like Patrick out of Spongebob!'

2. Out of the mouth's of babes...the sequel

The conversation seamlessly morphed into a discussion on how big the boys were when they were born.

'Well, Captain Underpants was 15 inches long and weighed 3lbs and Johnny Drama, you were about 19 inches long and weighed 6lbs.' (This was of course accompanied by reckless driving whilst trying to demonstrate the approximate size of each child using hand gestures.)

'How big was (older brother) when he was born?'

'Oh, he was only 12 inches long and he weighed just 1lb.'

Johnny Drama in particular seemed to be relishing this information. Being the youngest child, he is always trying to find a source of one-up-manship and to discover that he was the biggest baby of my three boys delighted him no end.

He did have one concern however. 'Oh no. I don't think older brother can be a Super Hero like me and Captain Underpants if he was born with only one Pow.'


'When I was a baby I had 6 Pows and Captain Underpants had 3 Pows...but older brother only had one Pow and I don't think that is enough Pows to be a Super Hero, is it mummy?'

I was going to explain his misunderstanding but on reflection decided that I liked his interpretation of pounds vs Pows much more. (In a similar vein that's why I haven't corrected the use of 'ear loaf' and 'eye bulb' just yet. Such innocent mispronunciations that make me smile every time. I am sure one day they will use the correct terms but, boy, will I miss their home grown originals.)

3. Round and round the garden...

Finding a roundabout in Chicago is like trying to find a Dunkin Donuts without a policeman sitting inside. Very rare indeed. You can't drive 100 metres without encountering a stop sign or a traffic light, but roundabouts are few and far between. In fact, I think I may live near the only 2 roundabouts in the whole of Chicago, if not America. They are only little. Like a miniature garden plonked in the middle of the road that we have to drive around. But my, they cause me so much pleasure. If I am having a bad day, I just have to lurk at the end of my street with either of the roundabouts in sight. And wait.

Before long, a souped up Cadillac or a Ford Pickup (substantial enough to pull a house) will come into view and then the fun begins. Why? Because Americans don't have the foggiest idea on how to negotiate a roundabout. I haven't seen one of them do it correctly yet. You can see the fear and confusion in their eyes as their car languidly saunters to a stop. What the?! There is a long pause whilst the driver surveys the situation. And then, without fail, the car will tentatively go around the roundabout the wrong way. Typically the shortest viable route. It's a source of constant amusement and proof that really silly things make me chuckle every time.

4. The return of Rocky

My dear friend Rocky called me today. We haven't spoken for 4 months after I got my knickers in a twist over something and nothing. I have missed her so much. She is one of the funniest, most vibrant Aussie nutcases I have ever come across - we 'clicked' the first day we met and had been close friends for almost 2 years. The funny thing is that I had decided to email her today but she beat me too it. I am so insanely glad. As it typically is with good friends, when we spoke it was though no time had passed at all. Within seconds of the conversation starting we were both wittering on and laughing hysterically, all differences resolved. We're going to put the world to rights again over a bottle of wine tomorrow night. And I can't wipe the smile off my face.

5. The infamous 'semi-annual' Victoria Secret sale

One of my quick errands today was to nip into VS to buy a strapless bra. I don't wear strapless as a rule - not having sufficient boobage to securely rest clothing on and prevent it from sliding down to my waist. However, my one and only party frock has a complicated neck line and so venturing into strapless bra territory was a necessity. Not only did I find the most perfect strapless bra, which comes complete with more padding than your average rolled sock to create that which Mother Nature chose not to bless me with. But the whole thing is lined with this sticky substance that adheres to my skin, rather like Velcro, therefore reducing the likelihood of it gradually inching itself down to my belly button. Of course, there are no guarantees but I figure that gravity is going to have its work cut out with this little beauty.

Not only that but it was half price in the sale. Result! I was so excited that I promptly got carried away and bought 3 more (non-strapless) bras and a variety of matching knickers, which ultimately made it the most expensive strapless bra purchase in history.

In the past 2 months I have bought more bras and knickers than your average call girl - all impossibly glam and lacey on the outside, but most importantly filled with more gel than most implants on the inside. Strange time of life to be just a little obsessed with underwear shopping, given that my chance of a romantic interlude with the opposite sex right now is remote to 'Dream On'.

But if the opportunity does come knocking then you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to be ready. And just the thought of the vague possibility of sharing this gorgeous stash of undies with someone other than 2 cats and 2 children under the age of 5 can't help but make me smile in anticipation.