November 25, 2018
I got a WhatsApp video message from my boyfriend. He looked sweaty and a little jetlagged, and there was the unmistakable shadow of a ceiling fan in full flow flickering across the walls behind him. He panned around to show me a beer on the table and a blender full of freshly-made salsa verde on the counter.
In Mexico, it was 6:30 p.m. It was 9:30 a.m, on a Sunday in England and I was up three and a half hours later than planned. My head was thick with a cold and my eyes were as reluctant to open as I shuffled out from beneath my duvet. My boyfriend left yesterday to move home.
Close to four years after we first met in Mexico, a place where I’d lived for more than half of that time, he’d come to the U.K. for five months to get a first-hand introduction to stodgy British cuisine and our terrible weather. To say it was a shock to his system might not do it justice. We spent five long months sharing my childhood bedroom, months that were interspersed with weekends visiting friends around the country and trips across Europe, where we tried Belgian beer and argued about god knows what. It doesn’t matter anymore; few arguments really do after the fact. Yesterday, he flew back to Mexico.
My mum, dad and I had piled into the car at the arse crack of dawn to take him to the airport, barrelling along unlit roads swathed in dense, early-morning cloud cover. (My dad, who did the driving, is so committed to taking winding backstreets anywhere and everywhere, you’d think the motorway had personally wronged him in a past life.) And just like that my boyfriend was gone, on a flight full of excitable tourists heading to Cancún.
Even so, his 30-second video made me happy this morning, and I watched it at least twice over in quick succession. I was coming down with the usual bout of maudliness I get for a day or so after he leaves. I recorded my own video message in reply, sweater-clad instead of sweaty. I told him that I’m sick. I really did look like shit, but the only thing contagious about me was self-pity.
Sundays are for lethargy. They’re for contemplating the everything and nothing that you achieved over the weekend and for panicking about the everything (or maybe nothing) that you need to achieve on Monday. I’m a freelance writer though, so Sundays are mainly about getting all the work done that I ignored during the week.
But first I sent a tweet about Sundays.
Forsaking actual clothes and clean underwear for the pyjamas I just slept in (they’re deliciously soft and lightweight, with a printed banana leaf pattern and a ragged hole in the crotch), I closed WhatsApp and pulled out my laptop. It has a carefully curated selection of stickers on the lid: an outline of Mexico, a #NiUnaMenos hashtag inside a lilac square, a Shiba Inu butt and a space-age cat.
I boiled a kettle of water and brewed a cup of tea, the actions practically muscle memory. Then I closed the laptop again. “You can’t work without first putting together a list,” my broken brain told me, convincingly incorrect in its conviction.
My dad shouted upstairs and asked if I’d like a sandwich, as I Sharpie-scribbled my way through a violently lime green pad of Post-It notes. “Sausage,” I shouted back. “No bacon.” One perk of living and working out of your childhood bedroom is having your food cooked for you.
After lunch, I tackled the four projects I have due, and took a break to pack my tiny teal suitcase with everything I need for my trip to Lisbon, Portugal tomorrow. I threw in four books, one for each day I’d be there.
In the afternoon, we paused as a family to gather in the conservatory and watch the bird-feeder in my garden for twenty minutes. Totally normal stuff. Yesterday, my mum saw a rat (which she first mistook for a squirrel) shimmy up the pole and go to town on the birdseed which awaited it five feet from the ground. Today, my dad removed the birdseed and so we were all waiting for the rat to come out and realise there’s nothing there. One cup of tea later, there was still no sign of him—I just feel like it’s a him—so I headed back upstairs, still sniffly and sleepy but also safe in the knowledge that I will do literally anything, even rat-watching, to avoid my responsibilities.
The afternoon drifted on and I didn’t finish everything. I resigned myself to working on the plane.
At 10:00 pm, I got in bed, although I didn’t get to sleep until two. Since I drunkenly slept through multiple alarms and missed a flight out of Chile earlier this year, I’ve had even more pre-flight anxiety than usual. I set an extra alarm, just to be on the safe side.