How often do you stop, drink in the moment, and realise that you’re happy? For me, it’s not something I usually do enough. But right now, I can’t help but think it on a daily basis. I’m supremely, ridiculously, smugly happy. No apologies.
The problems that used to make me reach for the fluoxetine or citalopram haven’t gone away (in fact, they’ve probably got worse) but these days the drugs lie almost forgotten underneath make-up, hairbrushes, nail varnishes and other paraphernalia.
So, what’s changed?
Well, for starters, I switched from screen time to old fashioned paper. That is, I stopped staring at the TV, watching iPlayer mindlessly, and got back into books. I’ve read six in the past fortnight, which I can’t remember doing since… no, I can’t remember.
I’ve also spent a lot of time with my family this summer. Talking to them, I’ve been using up my mobile minutes by mid-month.
An obvious one (friends, you know what’s coming) is that I know I’m leaving my job in a fortnight. Even in spite of impending unemployment, which should theoretically be a massive source of stress, my tension headaches and migraines have magically disappeared, and my previously spot-covered skin has all but cleared up.
Suddenly, I realise, I have friends. I’ve always considered myself a “loser”, in the sense that I knew I would never be overly popular, or be someone that “cool” people wanted to hang out with. (That’s not a woe-is-me sob story, by the way, it’s just how I saw things.) Now, though, I’m aware that if on a given night I want to go out for a drink, I know someone who will want to join me. If anything, I find that I now can’t afford the pub costs of seeing my friends enough. It’s a strange feeling, in a way. My friends make me laugh, make me feel supported, safe. They are kind, generous, brilliant people, who I’m proud to know, and to be able to call my friends. In the last month I’ve got to know some people a lot better, and, in that old cliché, found out who my real friends are.
Speaking of meeting up with friends, have I mentioned where I live? That’s right, one of the most amazing cities in the world. This week I breathed in the amazingness of London like oxygen. I sat in the workshop of London Glassblowing, watching unbelievably beautiful works of art being crafted before my eyes, being sculpted, held in a red-hot furnace, delicately moulded a little more.
I also sauntered over to Hyde Park, where I watched graceful swirling on roller-skates, and swans skimming the water. I took in the sights of families strolling in the evening sun, couples lounging on deck chairs, children on pedalos. A cloud mottled sky, illuminated by a milky sunset.
Another evening I walked along the South Bank, watching the chair lift swirl round and around. I marvelled at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye, on the billionth time of seeing them. This afternoon I sat by the Thames and watched the drawbridge go up on Tower Bridge. I get to live in this city, and see these sights, for free!
This week I also decided to re-purchase a subscription for an online music service. It’s an extravagance I probably should deny myself, being unemployed, but the pleasure that the music brings me is worth the guilt. I’m writing this listening to the 1983 Marine Girls LP ‘Lazy Ways/Beach Party’, in a blissed-out state. I’ve also listened to a few Everything But The Girl tracks on repeat; it only takes the opening chords of a ‘Downtown Train’ or lyrics of an ‘I Always Was Your Girl’ to reduce me to (happy) tears. (“It always will be you and me against the world.”) Not to mention my new discoveries. Is there anything more gorgeous than ‘Les Nuits’ by Nightmares On Wax?
In the last three weeks I have been to three different theatres to see three different plays. The Cripple of Inishmaan. Fences. Private Lives. Two of the three were cheap seats, way up in the gods, but it didn’t make much difference. All three were brilliant, and transported me to another world, away from the one where I’m worried about finding a job or somewhere to live for the next month. Fences and …Inishmaan reminded me that there are six billion lives other than mine. My stresses are washed away in an instant. Private Lives reminded me of my own life, in a way, and made me feel unbelievably lucky.
What it reminded me of was the man I was coming home to afterwards. What it made me think of was how much I wanted to rush back and see him. What it made me feel was how much I love him, and how being in love with him makes the butterflies in my stomach whiz around in a frenzy. Living with him, just for two weeks, has made me feel blissful, relaxed, and the luckiest girl on the planet. Watching his eyelids flicker almost imperceptibly as he sleeps and waking up beside him make me smile. On the nights we’ve been apart I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve missed him with every heartbeat, every song I listen to, every minute I’m alone instead of in his arms.
I’ve ditched the drugs, I’ve breathed in books hungrily, quit the job stress, revelled in the company of friends and family, loved London, got high on mellow music, been transported by plays, loved. I can’t imagine that there’s a better place than this, or a higher form of happiness than this. So this is me recording it for posterity. Yes, I may be smug. But I am also the happiest girl in the world.