I have a day off today. A "proper" day off, that is, one by myself where the spawn are at school and the CFO is not joining me to make insistent conversation about moving pieces of furniture, Christmas logistics and where the extra €500 he deposited in acccount 43 has gone and saying that 9:30 am is far too late for drinking coffee. I spent half the night dizzy with anticipation at all the fun I could have and also staying up late Just Because I Could. However so far I have:
Listened to the tortoises banging their shells repeatedly against the wall as they attempt to escape. Depressing factor of 3
Sorted out my too small clothes to send to Red Shoes - Depressing factor of 5
Sorted a mountain of socks - Depressing factor of 7
Danced around in the bedroom by myself wishing I was having more fun - Depressing factor of 8 million (the way I do it, it has)
It is already half eleven. I had better start having fun. School ends at ten past three and I have promised the spawn I will collect them rather than leaving them in the icy gulag of the after school club, where they have to knit Monsieur Le Directeur socks from barbed wire whilst singing songs of Soviet triumph in their quavering infant voices. I am a pushover for the small boy guilt trip. The pressure! I might see whether I can sneak through the 3.1 Philip Lim blouse I am coveting on my credit card - it bounced all of my 5 attempts last week, but maybe there has been some financial miracle in the interim? (Update: I tried, there hasn't) Go and see the CFO for lunch, so we can eat very fast and in the silence of people who have spent the last 15 years together and saw each other only three hours earlier? Make some ugly cakes? Sit pressing 'refresh' on my computer in the hope that someone out there is validating my existence? No, nothing seems to be hitting the spot. The 'spot' is a sort of empty, anxious spot in my solar plexus. It makes everything look overwhelming and unappealing. It makes me want to make another cup of tea and curl up in my bed and look at the blustery leaves blowing around (yes, wig #2 was not a smart choice this morning) .
I think the empty spot means I am a bit lonely (see my marvellous insight!). This 'Belgium' place is all very well, but it does not contain many of my favourite people to go and annoy or places to go on a day off. I tried so hard at first - invited people round manically, said yes to everything, even if it made me die inside, volunteered for the school fête (ha, never again), had lunch with even the dullest of my colleagues. But inevitably only a few have stuck, and even they are not the kind of friends/acquaintances who I can imagine having stupid proper fun with, at least not sincd Czech colleague and his wife went back to New York. This making friends in adulthood thing is hard, isn't it. Why can't all you people from the internets just come and live here? You are so funny and wicked and entertaining, and I wish I could play with you properly. Brussels is lovely you know, we have great healthcare and schools and marijuana is virtually legal and the beer is strong and the frites are good and the houses are cheap and beautiful and the public transport is free and highly, excitingly dangerous. I can't tempt you?
If I was in London I would be out and gleefully, dangerously caffeinated by now, halfway down a list of vital places to go/things to eat/stuff to covet and trying on 90% of the stock at Marks and Spencers at Marble Arch for the one or two hidden treasures (concealed in a mass of repulsive, purple, tassled Per Una dross) that make lots of people ask you where you got what you are wearing. I would probably be making plans to kidnap Violet and go and hide in the womblike Liberty's ground floor tea room, eating tiny tarts and trying on stuff we can't afford. If I got lonely in London, I could go and try and conquer BMF's phobia of leaving the office and persuade him out for tea, or hang out with Harvey at Verde talking about chocolate, or flirt with the waiters at Patisserie Valerie for larger and larger cappucinos, or lurk around Start listening to Brix hold court and stroking nice clothes. Or I could go to White Cube, or Mar Mar Co, or look out for Gilbert and George or Tracey Emin or the other Spitalfields celebrities. You know, just, stuff. Stuff to keep the emptyness at bay. Here, I don't have all those distractions, and even though I have all the important stuff - a home, and tortoise/husband and lovely wicked children and a soon to be part time job that pays way more than I have any right expect - the fun seems to be missing, at least in real life. It's here in abundance on the internet, but perhaps that is stopping me looking more purposefully for real life fun?
Update: The freedom part of the day is over, the children are fighting and refusing to leave the house even for waffles the size of their heads. I still don't have a team of fun and dangerous accomplices to help me get up to badness. But I do have two new dresses I can't afford (a grey jersey Vanessa Bruno thing, fashion fans, and a mental black silk shift with a huge fuck off Grayson Perry style bow), two new novels and some perfume. When all else fails, buy your way out of the empty feeling. Oh yes.