“Let’s do something next week?” he asked me at the end of the date and, when I said yes, I meant it. But, when he texted me the following Monday to find out when I was free, we quickly reached a deadlock.
“I’m around Thursday?” I told him. “I can’t do Thursday but I’m around Friday?” he replied. Then, I said: “I can’t do Friday, but I can do Sunday?” And we kept going round and round like this until we realised: I was busy whenever he was free.
A few days later, I was talking to my mum on the phone. I told her about my scheduling difficulties, and she sighed in a way that let me know she thought my priorities were in the wrong place. “In my day, people would do pretty much anything to go on a date,” she said, and then paused for a moment because she could tell she was annoying me. “But then people weren’t as social back then. In the ’70s, pubs shut at 10.30pm. People would have a couple of after-work drinks and then go home.”
It’s weird to think about – the fact that people used to say, “I’ll come for one drink,” and actually mean it. Things are so different now; our priorities have shifted. Of course, we’re still force-fed the idea that love is the goal of life, alongside buying a house, having kids, a flat stomach and a Dyson Airwrap. At parties, family members come over and rub your arm and say, “We need to find a nice man for you.” But I don’t think many of us still believe that’s the answer. What feels like a million books – including my own – now end with the idea that the main love story is actually the one you share with your friends rather than a romantic partner. Or as Charlotte suggests to the rest of the girls in Sex and the City: “Maybe we could be each other’s soulmates? And then we could let men be just these great nice guys to have fun with.” Our careers are more important to us than ever. And, when we’re not working, there’s this pressure to make the most of every minute of our social lives – especially those of us who live in cities. Scrolling through Time Out, I often find myself feeling guilty that I’m not doing it all. Why didn’t I make it to the exhibition with the room filled with tennis balls? How soon can I get a table at the restaurant doing Spanish and Japanese tapas? Getting married and moving to a pretty suburb might once have been viewed as “winning” but that doesn’t feel like the case anymore. The good life is the one where you’re untethered.
I’m certainly that. I was out with a friend the other week and he asked what I’d done the night before and I told him about the restaurant where I had dinner, the book launch I went to after that, and the gig where I ended the night. He got his phone out and showed me a viral TikTok of this trendy guy in a crop top called Codey James talking through his weekend. “I biked over to East Village to Mud to get brunch with my co-workers, they have a really dope open space, was decently buzzed, so headed to Maiden Lane on Avenue B which might be one of my favourite spots, and then started heading over to Bushwick to my friend Zetia’s pop-up, the vibes were 10/10. Later Ali and I went to Jeff’s house party and then he took us to Playhouse in West Village…” It carries on and on through more brunches, friends, tattoos, launches, barbecues. The top comment reads, “I’m exhausted watching this.”