So here's mine:
Once upon a time there was a girl who had been single for many years. She kissed lots of frogs but never managed to find a prince. They were all handsome and dull or great craic but deeply unattractive. She looked for love in all the wrong places: with with boys who couldn't or wouldn't commit or boys who lived in far away lands and married supermodels. If a boy liked her she immediately didn't like them. Long before she discovered what self esteem was all about.
Anyway one day the girl opened a door to what she thought were toilets, but turned out to be the hotel kitchens and she sent a handsome (bar)man flying. They talked, he gave her free drinks, she gave him her number. He called and after much deliberation she called him back. They met for coffee on the hottest day of the year and talked movies. He called again. They kissed for the first time in a dirty grimy bar at about 1am and she smelled smoke - he had set his T shirt on fire on the table candle. On their second date a friend of hers tragically died and the man was very sweet. On the day of the friend's funeral he rang the girl to see how she was doing and when she asked how he was he replied 'I didn't call to talk about my day, I called to ask about yours.' She knew then he was the one. He was always working nights but she didn't mind - she did too - presenting on a stupid games channel. They had days for movies and lunches and falling in love. It was blissful.
They married a year to the day of the first coffee date in secret, then he proposed a year later and a year after that they wed - near Halloween. A year later she was pregnant and 9 months later Sproglet was born on June 21st 2006. So far, so good. They'd weathered all sorts of job loss storms, illnesses, stress, money worries, the whole shebang. Now when the girl met the man, he was more of a boy. Of 24 - to her 28. She'd been a gal about town, just bought her own flat in London. He'd lived in a youth hostel as he was a grubby traveller, earning a crust as a jobbing barman. But he was ambitious and he got an assistant bar manager job at a fancy city bar on a roof top and then became manager and then went to a 5 star swanky hotel and managed the bar there. The girl didn't mind - she had a packed diary and a tonne of mates. Free cocktails - bonus. They often met for late suppers and hung out when she wasn't presenting - they had time. But as the years worn on and the girl got pregnant she began to taste loneliness. She felt it most acutely after the baby was born. She was left to care for the bairn and fearful of other Mothers, she hid away, chained to a baby's routine, bouncing off walls. She ended up on anti - depressants a year later. She tried to tell him - but he didn't listen. Or didn't want to. 'You knew what you were getting when you married me' he would reply.
She eventually changed careers when the presenting work dried up (as it tends to do for women of 35 and over)- but this career was full time - no more lazy lunches or hanging out - and they moved house. Her working full time and the man with his crazy hours, a baby and no family help was a recipe for disaster and the marriage began to crumble. I love him she sighed, but I hate his job. But the man started to have weekends off and it got a bit better. She lost her job, then got it back briefly and somewhere along the line got pregnant again.
Now she is about to have baby no 2 and the same lonely story is back on repeat. They sleep in separate rooms as she is so enormous with child - and he gets to bed at 3am. They don't ever eat breakfast together. They only eat dinner together on weekends. She is lonely. Again. Like a single parent without the status. She does every breakfast alone with her son - and dinner every week night. She bathes with her son at bath time and tries to cheer herself up with books and inane television. But somewhere deep inside it isn't the life she expected. This single parent type life. When the man comes home he is very tired and has had to be so social with his work he doesn't want to talk to her. She is lonely even when he is home.
How did I end up here she wonders? Love has led her down a solitary path. She dreams of it being different but the man doesn't know how to change his job and still retain his salary - especially in these lean times. She foresees a life of bringing up two kids alone. She despairs and on hormonal days the tears fall. She wonders how to change it but feels like her story is on repeat: I hate his job she sighs. I love him but I hate his job.
She remembers having this conversation two years ago with a dear friend who was moving to LA. A year even before that. Since the baby was born. The baby is now 4 and a half. Still the story is the same. She wonders if it will ever change - and if so, will she be the one to say 'enough.'
I saw an old friend today. A girl I used to paint the town red with and who has shared my triumphs and traumas. She has just had her first baby - having never wanted kids - at 40. We went to her local nail bar - while she had a manicure and I had a blissful pedicure. Oh my god, feet in hot water - so comforting! Especially as my ankles are cankles with a deep red ridge where my socks cut off the blood supply. Anyway - we were talking about life, our men, the usual issues. She talked about her partner always being beholden to his ex wife and the child from his previous relationship. It is a well worn story that has been going on for 9 years or more. She said, 'that is my story.' It doesn't change - it will possibly never change.
She explained to me that no matter who we are with - it will never be perfect. We will never have our happy ever afters like the fairy tales. Because life is messy and hard and complicated. So we need to accept what we have and work with it. She has a point. Maybe because I have been so alone since last Thursday when I finished work - maybe because my work helps me define myself, and yet I will be jobless for the next 4-5 months at least, maybe because I am exhausted and hormonal, maybe because I am scared about becoming a parent again, maybe because I remember the deep dark lonely days of before, I just felt like - I can't do this any more. It would be easier surely to be a single parent? To get every other weekend off - to myself - and maybe find someone who can eat dinner with me, have a life with me, who is there in mind and spirit and isn't shattered from their vampire like existence?
Maybe we all have a story - one that keeps repeating - like a track that refuses to leave the charts for an age. Bryan Adam's Everything I do - 16 weeks at no 1 in fecking 1990. Hideous track that wouldn't go away. Maybe we have to accept it - or can we change it? Does it take more balls to face this fucking repeat cycle or more balls to walk away from it? I don't know, I don't have any answers. I wish I knew other peoples' stories - maybe then I wouldn't feel so alone in mine.