Four people in a car, returning home after the Easter holidays. Trouble is, everyone else is too. There are traffic jams all over Spain. The same songs we heard on the way down, soundtrack the return journey. We don’t talk much. We sigh.
I look through my photos. We had a busy weekend of eating, drinking, sightseeing, hiking, eating and drinking. It was our first holiday together. We bonded well, but now we crave solitude.
I go into my whatsapp. A girl I’m dating was last online five minutes ago. She wasn’t texting me. On the journey to Salamanca I dispatched a little text reassuring her that my life was fantastic. She replied appropriately. Since then though, nothing. I don’t know what to say now. I feel far from fantastic.
It’s not just the end of a holiday, it’s the return of the hamster to its worry treadmill. At the start of the holiday there was no room for the bastard amongst the positive vibes created by getting outta town, breaking the routine and anticipating a weekend brimming with potential. The hamster was left behind on the motorway somewhere between Valladolid and Salamanca. The treadmill was blissfully still for a few days. But, the crafty little bastard was waiting for me on the return journey.
‘Wha’s wrong?’ D asks me.
‘You keep sighing.’
‘Oh. It’s just I’m trying to send a text .’
‘To who? Paula?’
I look at her
‘You told me last night.’
‘So. What’s the problem?’
‘It’s just – I’m not sure. Maybe I should leave it. I’m always texting her first.’
‘Text her. It’s nice. Let her know you are thinking of her.’
‘But surely she would understand that without me having to text it.’
‘Well I don’t know. How many times have you met?’
‘It’s a nice thing to do,’ D says shrugging.
‘Maybe I should play it cool, you know.’
‘Ah – don’t play games. Besides, she probably knows you’ve been on whatsapp and maybe she’s wondering why you haven’t texted.’
‘But she’s been on whatsapp! Why hasn’t she texted me?’
‘You may as well just do it now, you’ve been thinking about it so much.’
‘Right. I will.’
I start typing.
I delete one exclamation mark. I don’t wanna appear too excited. Then I change my mind and put it back to two exclamation marks because what’s wrong with being excited? Then, I check to see how many exclamation marks she uses in her messages. One. Right, one it is. I start typing.
Hi Paula! How are you??
Then I delete one question mark.
‘For fuck sake.’
‘What?’ D asks.
‘Fucking…I’m 33, you know?I should be beyond this shit.’
I contemplate tossing my phone out the window. Then again, phones are what brought us together. And she’s nice.
‘I know. I’ll just send her a friend request on Facebook. That’s a good idea, isn’t it?’
‘Sure,’ D says.
‘She won’t think it’s weird, will she? That I wanna be friends, just so I can check up on her?’
‘If she thinks you’re nice, she’ll think it’s nice. If she thinks you’re weird, she’ll think it’s creepy.’
‘Creepy? Really…Well we’ve met a few times now, so she must think I’m nice, mustn’t she? I mean it’s weird that we are not friends when you think about it.’
‘If I can be friends with some lad I met on a stag and chatted to in a bar for five minutes, I can be friends with someone I’ve had sex with, right?’
But then I start thinking about my Facebook photos and I change my mind. Back to whatsapp.
Hi Paula! How are you? Would you like to meet up this week?
I press send and put my phone into my pocket. Done. One minute elapses before I check it again. Two blue ticks confirm she has seen my text. I put my phone away and try not to think about it.
A glorious beep. D looks at me. I can’t stop a grin. But it’s only a message from my Mom. I reply. I put the phone away. Why hasn’t she- It beeps again. It’s her!
Hola! Yes sounds goods. Maybe Tuesday night?’
I smile. Whatsapp suddenly seems more bearable. Same for the traffic.