I am hungover. Two freely-poured aperol spritzes, 1.5 cans of Guinness (the remaining 0.5 woke me up with its RINGING judgement from the lofty heights of my bedside locker this morning) and I am a pale and anxious mess.
I went to bed fully-clothed, having been Facetiming a friend in Australia and, when my battery died mid-conversation, simply threw the phone on the ground and passed out, still wearing the bizarre combination of exceptionally formal gown, Christmas pyjama bottoms, and horrendously over-sized fleece. I awoke at 5am, sweating and disorientated, took off all my clothes and somehow unearthed a phone charger. I awoke every hour on the hour and proclaimed I was going to go for a run and sweat the devil out of me. I turned over each time and had strange dreams about girls I was in secondary school with. At 10a m I did not like the being that is me very much so decided to cheer myself up by narrating the circumstances of my Saturday morning to a disinterested Instagram community through the medium of song.
My sister said you could see my side-boob in it and perhaps this is why I have won a whole new and exciting male follower who is very keen to know how I am doing. If I’d known that all it took was an improvised song and a flash of nudity to get some male attention, my life would look a whole lot different now. Ahh, the power of hindsight.
Last night all my family (bar my father who made a solid third of an effort) got dressed up in finery, slapped on some by now out-of-date foundation and had a drinks night. We all stood around our kitchen looking each other up and down with a kind of wonderment – the air was perfumed and buzzed with cooings of “don’t you look gorgeous?” “I love your top” “you look so PRETTY though.” My brother’s response to see ing me in real clothes and with brushed hair: wow. You look different.
It was lovely. It had been so long since I’d worn makeup that I hardly recognised the person in the mirror – it’s funny how what once was your casual, every day look now feels like a red carpet ordeal worthy of a Vogue photoshoot. I took MANY sultry selfies which is not really something I would do but lockdown is changing me.
Once again, as seems to be my quarantine reality, the amount of alcohol I drank does not correlate to the level of rubbish I currently feel. I am sitting in my garden where I have been for the past three hours, listening to birdsong, comparing hangovers with my siblings, assiduously ignoring my Fitbit which keeps vibrating at ten minutes to every hour telling me to get the fuck up and go for a stroll. I am still absolutely going to work out soon though. Just ten more minutes to write this for the fans. God, I am so dedicated. Sacrificing my fitness regime for my readers – when does the Nobel Prize for selfless altruism open?
It is normally around this time, should normal life be in full swing and I was not in my parent’s garden but in my single-bed urban kingdom, that I would be Facetiming my best friend comparing war stories from the night before and deciding where we were going for brunch. We would spend twenty minutes listing all of the things we wanted to eat, then begin a separate list for all of the contradictory beverages we wanted to drink – coffee or lemonade, matcha or straight to a durty pint of Guinness? – then embark on a cross-referenced list of places within walking distance, without the paralysing dread of a queue, and serving PRECISELY what we wanted even if we still don’t know what we want.
Then, after another twenty minutes of shite talk and now positively weak with hunger and the impending shame that is stage two of my hangover, I would crawl to the shower and pray I could make it to brunch in relatively one piece. We’d both be late (me always significantly later), we’d both have an identity crisis figuring out what to order. If there are potatoes on the menu then we will have that beautiful, friendship-affirming moment of telepathic agreement that we are without question ordering them as a compulsory side and I will feel my heart burst with love and pride at my excellent choice in friends. We will beam at each other because THIS – this shared love of fried spuds and extravagant ordering is the truest symbol of soulmates and what luck, what impossibly generous fate to have found each other! The Starsky to my poppy-munching Hutch, the Ben Affleck to my insatiably gluttonous Matt Damon – wow, what a world we live in!
Just this small moment of synchronised thinking and perfect understanding is enough to cause a lump in my throat in the exposed wood, minimalist aesthetic of the hipster cafe because hangovers make me sentimental and so I will have to hastily return to menu scanning and choosing if I’ll be a good little vegan or get the halloumi in order to prevent a completely inappropriate moment of hysteria. Then, having eventually decided that we will both order the thing we were always going to order in the first place – she will go for a mushroom base, me a cheeky avocado number because we are nothing if not basic and faultlessly predictable – we will suddenly be rendered incoherent when trying to relay this to the impossibly good-looking waiter whose sexuality we’re both trying to silently guess because our hangovers make us incapable of speaking in anything other than riddles that we alone can understand while his bafflement and growing irritation causes us to burst into completely inappropriate laughter. Hot waiter never finds this amusing but does warm up to us when we order a pitcher of mimosas.
Then there is always a text message to dissect in the wait for brunch and several screamed exclamations of ‘I CAN’T’. We do not solve the world’s problems over eggs but I do manage to stem the heart-palpitating fear that makes me incapable of being alone.
Then after already telling Viv I absolutely cannot hang out after brunch because I want to go for a run/do life admin/ partake in something mindful, creative, and soul-searching I will then beg her not to leave my side and will bashfully propose a pint. And so it goes that somehow it is Sunday evening, I am completely unprepared for Monday morning, have not gone to that Bikram yoga class or called my parents but instead have had four pints and am now ordering pizza in bed in lieu of the four-hour vegan curry I’d planned to batch cook.
And that is what I would be doing should I be living la vida sans corona pandemic. But I’m not. Instead, I’m talking about how to rid our two cats of the tics they are infested with and wondering if animals get earwax in their ears and if that is the real reason my dog is deaf.
I mean, if animals can get depressed, surely they can get earwax. That is how logic works. But, if that’s the case, how does one get the gunk out? Do es it just build and build until it completely seals off the eardrum and, when we think our dogs or cats or horses are going deaf, they’re really just in dire need of a cotton bud? Imagine. I had this thought checking my dog for tics. Her ear flapped back and I realised it was the first time, in fourteen years of adoring her, it was the first time I’d really looked at the complex maze of her inner ear. I am a terrible dog mother.
Ok, I’ m going to go workout now because I’ve become this weird fitness fanatic and even though my mind keeps telling me no, my body – MY BODY – keeps telling me yes.
Holly is trying to be proactive writer who dabbles in both feature and creative writing. Her full portfolio is available at http://www.earnestandethereal.com(@ear nest_ethereal on Instagram) where you can find her keeping an online quarantine diary for the amusement of friends, strangers but mainly the future historians who will surely canonize her.