Last night I met Liam outside the cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue – I had walked through Covent Garden and passed a restaurant which was part of a small chain called Thai Square. Years ago I had been to one of the first ones which opened in Islington and it had been a very satisfying experience – the decor was tastefully executed, on the sumptuous side without being overly ornate and the food had the right amount of piquancy and spiciness – Thai food tended to have a fiery kick and it did not disappoint. Over the years, a few more had opened up around London and I had taken various dates to them and the fare had remained constantly good.
We went in to see Black Mass which was a well told tale of a frightening character from 70s gangland Boston who rose to power of megalomaniacal proportions, having colluded with the FBI, before the press got hold of the scandalous dealings and eventually going on the run; he made headline news back in 2011 when he was finally apprehended. When we came out after the film ended I suggested we dined at the restaurant I’d walked past earlier and Liam was more than happy to acquiesce. It wasn’t until we looked at the menu that I was reminded I’d had Thai on all my three most recent dates. It seemed appropriate for us because Liam had been telling me that next year, on the way back from Australia, he intended to stopover there to visit an ex-post grad research student of his who was now based there working for the firm which had funded his PhD.
During the meal I noticed that he was trying to steer the conversation towards a more personal topic after we’d finished talking about the film and our future travel plans. He had hinted that if we both happened to be in Sydney at the same time next year he would be happy to show me around the city he had lived in for nearly ten years in the early part of this century. I was going to catch up with a few ex-classmates and various relatives who had emigrated there. There was going to be a huge re-union holiday with some of my ex-school friends as we were all turning 50 next year.
But when Liam asked me if I’d read anything interesting recently I blurted out that there had been a really well-written short story I had found unable to put down earlier that afternoon, told from the viewpoint of a victim of childhood female genital mutilation coming to terms with the impact this barbaric operation had on her sexuality and the future development of her relationship with her family members, the years the story spanned, the narrative going back and forth through time and place. My date visibly winced at the mention of the acronym and I would have stopped there except he rather bravely, perhaps out of politeness rather than genuine interest, asked me to elucidate. It was not the sort of discussion you wanted to have if your intention was to seduce and I wondered at my motives as I outlined the story and we continued to talk about how it was only very recently that the UK had legislated against and criminalised the practice, initially tiptoeing around an area which might have seemed culture-sensitive and politically incorrect to condemn.
So of course we did not arrange to return to Liam’s for a nightcap and kissed our goodbyes in the underground at the end of the evening. I had been kept awake by the demands of the previous evening’s date – the midnight tryst with Goran – and was in much need of some vitamin z.
At home I saw that Max had emailed me after our evening out at the comedy gig on Monday with a few snippets of news of his day. I did not reply immediately as I might have had before when we would then indulge in a bit of emailing frenzy which always culminated with an agreement to meet up to try or see some touted activity in London. Max was the sort of date who had to be in a state of “busyness”. When we had got back into the dating saddle I had wondered if he might be someone I could discuss dating woes with but realised that perhaps he was hoping for a resumption of previous intimate moments. Unfortunately I did not feel physically attracted to him at the end of our recent date and had told Goran later that evening that he might be the reason for my lack of sexual interest in the other men in my life. So, perhaps it would not be diplomatic to bring up with Max my quandary over how to get over how I now felt about Goran.
I find it difficult battling these emotions, feeling like a teenager who has had her head turned, yet at the same time wanting him to keep to the path of least destruction to his own marriage. When he suggested taking me to Yauatcha to celebrate my 49th birthday I had felt elated and then asked him if his wife was aware of it and if it might cause them any friction. We are all still fairly new to leading a polyamorous lifestyle and Goran had already confessed that he occasionally omitted details which might upset his wife – so as far as she was aware, we were only going on an unremarkable date not unlike the other previous ones. It was thoughtful albeit … dishonest. I did not want him to be anything other than thoughtful particularly since there used to be overheated arguments in the past between them.
I had told him that he did not need to tiptoe around my feelings and that I preferred his brutal honesty. Taking me at my word a few weeks ago he told me that he did not love me. I had felt a mixture of upset and satisfied. My default reaction was to push him away but at the same time I continued to need his attention. It feels hopeless at the moment which is why I am looking forward to a quiet couple of weeks after my birthday when there will be a break in our relationship. I suggested that unlike the summer holidays when he kept in touch via whatsapp messaging we should stop doing that altogether and see what happens in 2016. My hope is that my emotions will stabilise and I might take a more balanced approach to dating again.