No New Year

39

David again

—-

"Hey!" David gets up and gives him a hug in the busy Caffe Nero on Brewer Street. He’s looking great, his hair shorter, his black cotton shirt hanging nicely on him. Kevin inhales a pleasant aftershave.

            “Hey. It’s good to see you.”

            “Yeah.”

            “I’m just gonna order something.”

            “Okay.”

            Waiting for his mocha, Kevin stares back at his former colleague and former friend, sitting there by the window, watching the Soho passersby. Is this a date? Whatever it is, it somehow feels nice. No hard feelings left over from their awkward last encounter.

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No New Year

38

Rhubarb rhubarb

—-

From: k_fitzie@gmail.com

To: jonster133@hotmail.com

Subject: Hey

Hey Jon. I guess if you’ve opened this email, you don’t totally hate me - I wasn’t sure because you haven’t really kept in touch, and we had that big stupid argument. Just so you know, I regret that. I regret what I said, and I’m really sorry. I don’t think you were fair to me either, but if you don’t want to apologize, that’s okay. Just keep in touch, because I do want to know what’s going on with you. You’ll always be my friend, even if you don’t think of yourself as my friend. If that makes sense.

            Whew! Drama, drama. I don’t want any drama bullshit in my life, so I’m sorry I’ve managed to generate some.

            Anyway, I’m writing this now, and you can reply or keep schtumm if you want to; whatever tickles your fancy. I miss you, basically; that’s what I’m trying to say.

            Oh by the way - you deleted your Facebook? That’s so dramatic! A bunch of my friends have done it but I didn’t think you were the type. I guess maybe it was too tough to see people’s updates all the time about how fabulous life in London is. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not that great; it’s just the same as you left  it. It’s just that no one posts about the downsides. No one Instagrams the depressing crowd of people waiting for a delayed Bakerloo line on a Wednesday morning at Oxford Circus. So there you go; you don’t have to contend with that in Reykjavik, do you? I’m guessing at least it’s not a busy or stressful place to be.

            Anyway, updates from my life - I moved into that flatshare in Hackney that I told you about. It’s nice! There’s a gay guy, Alan - who’s nice but I don’t have that much in common with him - and two straight girls, Camilla and Tasha, who are just the nicest people ever, especially Tasha. They’re so much fun to go out with. You would love them. I’ve been discovering all these cool East London places that I never even knew about before. It’s like a whole renaissance of my living-in-London experience. Or something.

            But yeah, tell me how you’re doing over there? How’s it going with No New Year? And finding a job?

            Hugs,
            -Kev

            From: jonster133@hotmail.com

            To: k_fitzie@gmail.com

            Subject: RE: Hey

Hi Jon, it’s really good to hear from you. I’m sorry about that argument too; I’m sorry I said all those things. I guess it was just a weird situation and we were both in a weird mood. I didn’t know how you felt about me either and didn’t know if I should write to you. So I’m glad you wrote to me. You’re like my only life line to London. Now that I deleted Facebook. And yeah, of course we’re still friends. Any friendship can sometimes go through some rough moments like that I guess.

            I’m glad your new flatshare is so nice. It sounds great. As for me I don’t know, there’s no big news. I haven’t found a job. I kind of hate sending applications, I hate writing cover letters. I just write all this bullshit like ‘I always greet new challenges with a smile’ which I really don’t, I fucking hate new challenges. Sometimes I think I should just become a porn star.

            Anyway, my parents are driving me crazy so that’s not good either but hey, what can you do. This city is full of old friends of mine. Well old classmates. I met my best friend from school Amelía the other day, which was really nice. Uh. What else. I’ve been going for a run everyday down to the harbour. I’m reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann which is good but kind of slow going. I’m listening to a lot of Aimee Mann and Liz Phair. I guess that’s a sure sign that your’e down in the dumps. Heh.

            I checked Grindr the other day and it was totally depressing. It only came up with like ten guys and they were pretty old and not attractive. Well some of them were just pictures of landscapes, which means theyr’e really ugly. Fucking hell. I don’t even feel that horny these days, it was just out of curiosity. It’s funny, I didn’t have Grindr or a smartphone back when I was living here as a teenager. But now Im back here and suddenly I just have this magical ability to reveal the ten nearest gay guys. It’s funny how the world evollves.

            Reykjavik actually feels so fake, it feels like a movie set. Like the buildings are just cardboard, and the people are just saying rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb. I just walk around with this feeling like nothing is real. Or I’m not real. I don’t know, see I have nothing to tell you! Tell me more about you, have you been on any dates.

            -Jon

            From: k_fitzie@gmail.com

            To: jonster133@hotmail.com

            Subject: RE: RE: Hey

            Hey,

            Rhubarb? I don’t understand, what do you mean by that?

            No I haven’t been on any dates, BUT something good happened - well I made something good happen; I got a new job! As an assistant project co-ordinator at the Barbican! WOO HOO! Isn’t that amazing? I love the Barbican! And I totally didn’t think I was gonna get it, I thought I was horrible in the interview! But I got it! Yesterday I quit my stupid boring job at Green Leaf Marketing - You know how sick I was of working there, well now I’m finally moving on. So I have to work at Green Leaf for one more month and then I am outta there. Then I have one week of freedom before I start at the Barbican on March 4th. I’m so excited. And kind of nervous because, you know, what’s gonna happen when they find out I’m an incompetent idiot?

            Anyway, I’m sure you don’t wanna hear any more about how fabulous my life is (and honestly it’s really not .. note the aforementioned lack of dates. Actually I haven’t had sex in ages, I need to work on that.

            Yeah, I guess your home town kind of feels strange when you return there after a long time. It’s normal. Swindon feels strange to me now whenever I’m back. I’m sorry to hear your parents are driving you crazy. You should spend some time with your friend  Amelía if she’s still in town! And stop listening to Aimee Mann and Liz Phair. Definitely don’t listen to Joni Mitchell, that’s like the next level of depressingness. And don’t beome a porn star.

            Anyway I have to go, but write back soon! Even if you don’t think you have anything to tell. I’m just happy to hear from you.

            Big hug,

            Kev

            From: jonster133@hotmail.com

            To: k_fitzie@gmail.com

            Subject: RE: RE: RE: Hey

            Hi Kev. Sorry it took me so long to reply. I don’t know, I just forgot. Which is weird because I have so little to do here.

            Rhubarb is what the extras say in a Hollywood movie, when they’re supposed to look like they’re having a conversation in the background. They just say rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb. I don’t remember where I know that from.

            It’s foggy again today. I love it when it’s foggy. It’s my favourite kind of weather. It’s like the lights in a nightclub, it obscures everything and makes everything seem unreal. I’ve been walking around taking photos, so I guess at least I’m pursuing something sort of creative. I haven’t worked on No New Year in ages. It just kind of fell by the wayside. I can’t stick with anything.

            How’s the new job?

            From: k_fitzie@gmail.com

            To: jonster133@hotmail.com

            Subject: RE: RE: Hey

Hi Jon,
            How are you? Sorry it took so long to get back to you; life just got in the way.

Kevin stares at the laptop screen, lying in bed. The cursor stands blinking after the sentence ‘life just got in the way.’ He doesn’t know what to write. Why doesn’t Jon have more news from his life that he can react to? He always used to be a force of nature, a source of entertainment. Always something happening in Jon’s life. Now there’s nothing.

            Maybe they should talk on Skype. Kevin misses the sound of Jon’s voice, his odd accent. But if he doesn’t know what to write to him, he certainly wouldn’t know what to say over the phone. Is Jon ever coming back to London? That’s what Kevin really wants to ask, but somehow he can’t.

            His phone vibrates. He extracts it from his pocket. There is a text from David. David, the guy with the girlfriend, who kicked him out of his flat after kissing him. ‘Hi Kev. How are you? Haven’t seen you in ages. I was just wondering if you want to meet up and grab a coffee. I’m not doing anything this weekend so … would be nice! Cheers. -D

            Kevin stares at the message, frowning. He writes back.

—-

No New Year

37

Reykjavik

—-

It takes him a long time to get out of bed. There’s no reason, nothing planned for today or any other day. Nothing has changed in his room. Or in the house, or the city. Some of his middle school classmates still live here. Most of them losers with useless exam results and no interest in exploring the world. At least he’s been out there, for a few years. Before he fucked up and had to come home to mummy and daddy.

            He lets out a groan and gets up. The radiators keep this house reliably warm. Not like the flat in Brixton, where they seemed to switch off at random intervals.

            Jon looks in the mirror. His oversized t-shirt hangs on his spindly frame, which he could swear has shrunk, inexplicably, in the five days he’s been here. Maybe it’s just his posture. The lack of exercise. He’ll go for a run today; he definitely will.

            There’s an unattractive bluish tint under his eyes. He runs a hand through his greasy hair, puts a bathrobe on and goes downstairs.

            “Góðan daginn, Jon,” says his mother Dagmey, cleaning the oven, the sleeves of her woollen red cardigan rolled up. She is a stout, healthy-looking woman who’s always looked more substantial than her husband and son alike. “How are you today?”

            “Same as yesterday,” he says, staring at her.

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It’s so satisfying when she says ‘This plane is taking - off.’

Tags: julia holter

"The hell of it is, I know the answer. The answer is that you never, ever, rely on another person for your peace of mind. If you do, you’re screwed but good. Not right away, maybe, but sooner or later. You have to - I don’t know - you have to learn to live with yourself."

— Tales of the City

"Someone said they’ve got their TV on a dimmer switch."
“They’ve got their whole lives on a dimmer switch."

— Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City (paraphrased)

THE MISSING PIECE!

THE MISSING PIECE!

I think I just LEFT a whole bag of things I’d paid for in Sainsbury’s. Now I’m too embarrassed to go back. I think it’s because I was already carrying a Sainsbury’s bag of stuff, so I just grabbed that and walked home and my brain was okay with it.

Last night someone offered to be my sugar daddy. I politely refused but accepted his badly rolled joint.

Lady in Sainsbury’s asked me if I had a Nectar card; I said no; she said I didn’t look like the type either. I didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult, so I returned her smile and walked away puzzled.

Tags: weird london