My mouth was like cotton wool the next morning and my head was pounding from the rum cocktails myself and Frankie had put away in great excess the night before. To be honest, it was the only way I could make Jacques and Henri at all interesting. Frankie must’ve been with him for the stunning body and face because he had the wit and intellectual conversation of a piece of soggy lettuce, and trust me, Jacques was completely the same. I’m not an intellectual snob, but he couldn’t talk much beyond why cannabis should be legalised and the deficiencies in his lifting ‘form’.
I sat on the balcony over looking the town, chugging a pint of water and a couple of ibuprofen and sighed. How did I used to do this every night at uni? Dating too… I’ve never been much of a serial dater. I had a boyfriend from the first week of uni and we had a brutal break up the night before my graduation ceremony, leaving me looking like a corpse in my cap and gown, and my mum sending him a very angry message after a few too many wines.
I’d met Charlie in our halls. He was one of the first people I met and we got on like a house on fire. Where I was nervous and reserved, he was the life and soul of every party, normally the one starting them in fact. From a posh home counties family, he had money a plenty. Morals, cares, loves, passions… Not so much. Sure, we had fun together, we travelled and went swimming on the beach near his home in Cornwall on summer nights, his sisters were always so kind and welcoming to me, but by the end, we had nothing shared. Nothing we both wanted, nothing that was actually ours, just a rift in a sea of mutual emotions.
Everyone expected me, after, to fall into the pattern so many of my friends did post graduation split. Tinder dates and Bumble dates and blind dates and every other kind of date possible till they met the man of their dreams in a cushy post grad job who is already on ten grand a year more than them and has a nicer flat in a far less dingy part of London.
I didn’t, I threw myself into reading and researching ways I could get out of the UK, into a job I cared about, while spending time with my mum. We traveled and talked late into the night and I found what I loved and cared for again, which took a detour into the realm of the romantic. I found my feet again, and didn’t care when our mutual friends told me Charlie was dating a size 6 fashion model (okay, I cared a little, but I blocked him on Instagram and got over it pretty promptly).
I felt ready to meet someone now though… Not ready, but open to it. But if guys like Frankie dated were all the options on the table I wasn’t keen.
I hauled myself down flight after flight of stairs in my building to the coffee shop at the bottom in the square. I needed a big coffee and instant just wasn’t cutting it. Book in hand, I set up camp with a coffee and pastry from the boulangerie come cafe I had come to worship every day off or hungover morning. He was there, the busker, setting up for the day and I’l be honest with you when I say he had been on my mind. I had begun to see him everywhere and he was attractive. Very french, very sulky, very tanned, very my type. He was creative and wandering and I was so intrigued. I watched as groups of tourists listened to him sing, girls giggling and old ladies swaying as if listening to Steve Wright’s Sunday Love songs. I leant back in my chair with my book, listening, lusting and wondering.