It’s taken a long time for me to work up the nerve.
“Are you nervous?” My mum phoned up to check I was going to be ok; that made me feel about ten years old. I told her I was fine, just not sure what to expect, that it felt like taking a big plunge into a freezing cold lake but would be better once I just got on with it. “It’s about time you did something for yourself,” she told me before hanging up without saying goodbye.
So here I am. He let me choose the place so I picked neutral territory, hoping we’d both feel a bit more at ease. A holiday home owned by parents of friends. It’s out of season so no one’s here and he lives a half hour drive away so it’s convenient all round. I’ll just stay here for the night after he’s gone, that way I can have a drink. I need one for my nerves. In fact I think I’ll have a swift one now, just before he turns up. Then I might be able to act normal.
“Just be yourself,” was the general advice from friends. But how do you do that with a stranger? And such a forced, long anticipated encounter…well, it doesn’t lend itself to behaving in a mundane, everyday way does it? I almost feel there should be some kind of ceremony.
I got all dressed up at first, made a huge effort, a hair appointment, the works…but then I thought better of it. I’d much rather he saw me warts and all – he’ll see straight through me, I’m sure, and there’s a good chance he’ll share my flaws anyway so…
I’m just not sure what to say. I’ve built up a very clear picture of him in my mind, even though everyone told me not to. From his emails I know we share a lot of interests, we’ve got loads in common…we’re bound to get on. Yes. It’ll be fine.
But what do you say? What’s the opener? Nice to meet you? Did you have a good journey? Lovely villa, isn’t it? Do you fancy a dip in the pool? Cup of tea? Drink? Where the hell’ve you been for the last 20 years of my life?
I blame him for all this worrying, for my neuroses. My mum’s a bit of a hippy, uber laidback and doesn’t let things like this phase her. I must get all the twitchy anxiety from him. From my dad.