The worst thing about Amersham Sex Weekend, was not knowing where to go, once I left his flat.
About twenty minutes earlier, Daniel had been inside me. Normally, twenty minutes after someone has been inside me, I’m used to spooning and sleepily saying how much I enjoyed the sex, or having a cystitis-avoidance wee, while beaming contentedly at the back of the bathroom door, or happily staring at their naked body, through oxytocin-tinted glasses, whilst they dispose of contraceptives and I wipe secretions off myself.
And now, here I was, fully-clothed, sitting in my ancient car, eating melon I’d just bought from the Co-op, feeling crusty, sweaty and sore. I was also conscious Daniel could be watching through his window.
I didn’t know where to go.
I felt like I couldn’t go home. I’m still living with my ex-boyfriend (due to various logistical problems, mainly extortionate rent prices in London) and he specifically asked me not to tell him when I started dating again. We still get on well as friends. We know each other’s routines and often chat extensively about whatever it is we have just come home from. I feel very uncomfortable about not being honest, but after weighing up the pros and cons, it really feels like the best option.
So I had told him I was going to stay with a female friend who lives quite far away. I didn’t want to arrive home, hours earlier than would be realistic if I’d really been at her house, potentially smelling of another man or sex.
I really wanted a shower before I went home. This was possibly for symbolic reasons as well as hygiene, as I felt unclean. First, I phoned one of my best friends, who couldn’t talk but promised to call back later. Then I called another close friend, but she didn’t answer. I knew another of my best friends was out of London for the weekend.
I started driving home. I’m not from London, and have only lived here for a few years, so my very closest friends, whose shower I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking to use, live far away. As do my family.
After a while, I stopped at some services and texted a couple more friends, about using their shower. One had just moved into a new flat and didn’t have hot water yet, and the other was very apologetic but she was out with in-laws in central London. She even tried to work out if there was a way she could get her key to me, but there wasn’t.
Then Daniel texted, saying “I hope you got to wherever you’re going ok. Can you delete my number? Hope that doesn’t seem mean. It would just make me feel more comfortable. Please don’t be sad. The world is better for having you in it.”
The text was so characteristic of him – there’s a lovely hug in there, but there’s also a sharp elbow in the ribs.
A couple of tears leaked out of my eyes; an old man, sitting opposite me in the service station cafe, cast concerned glances in my direction.
Somehow, Daniel seemed able to tap into awful feelings I hadn’t felt for years. When I was a teenager, my group of girl friends stopped liking me (not really their fault, we stopped having things in common) and it all came to a painful conclusion on millennium New Year’s Eve. Suddenly I felt like that again – alone, unlikeable and abandoned.
You’ve got no one, I thought.
Since then, so many friends have said “why didn’t you call me!” and I don’t feel like that anymore.
Anyway, I decided just to go home, put sunglasses on, make up a reason for my early return, and if my ex-boyfriend asked why I was upset, say it was because of Syria.
Over the next week, I felt weirdly unsettled and distracted. I spent more time than usual staring out of windows and being unable to finish meals.
Then, that Friday, we had some work drinks. On my way home, I was trying to work out how to block Daniel on our dating app. I couldn’t figure out how, so, with my best drunken logic, I decided to send him a message instead. I have no idea why this seemed like a good idea, but I guess the lack of contact made it seem like I had easily moved on and forgotten about him, and I wanted him to know this wasn’t the case.
I wrote “I miss you. I’m smashed.” I expected he would ignore it, or even block me, as he had asked me to delete his phone number.
However, straight away, he phoned me. He seemed really annoyed. I was just turning the corner onto my street when my phone rang, but I walked and sat by the river instead, as I didn’t want to be overheard by my ex-boyfriend.
“Why are you messaging me?” he demanded.
“Because I’m being a bell-end.” I replied. “I’m sorry.” This seemed to take the wind out of his sails a bit.
At first the conversation was grumpy, with us both trying to describe how bad we had been feeling.
Then, after a while, I asked him about his week, and it suddenly seemed to get a lot nicer. We chatted for nearly two hours. I think he was trying to manipulate me, at some points. For example, completely out of the blue, he said “which day was it this week that I felt suicidal, was it Monday, or Tuesday…”. He told me he had arranged a date with another woman, and that he had thought about making a move on one of his female friends.
After a while, it was nearly midnight, and he started sounding sleepy, so we said goodbye.
I came home. It was my turn to sleep on the sofabed.
The next morning, I woke up at about 6am, with a bad feeling. Daniel had told me about feeling suicidal that week, he had told me he was feeling unwell yesterday, and he had sounded weird and sleepy at the end. What if he wasn’t sleepy, but he’d taken overdose or something?
I was almost certain he hadn’t, but I wanted to check he was OK. I waited until it was a bit more of an acceptable time, then I texted him.
We ended up having a horrible text conversation, where he said I ‘exploited his kindness and feelings to get laid’, (which I thought was unfair, given I had specifically raised this, and was told I was being patronising) and that I ‘need help’. However, I acknowledged that it had been unfair to contact him the night before, and possibly give him false hope, when I still didn’t want a relationship with him.
However much I tried to apologise, he wouldn’t accept it. I said “I’m so sorry, you have every right to be really pissed off and hurt and confused.” He said “That’s very good of you to let me know what I have a right to feel.”
I tried to end the conversation as we weren’t getting anywhere, and he immediately phoned me.
He launched into a continuation of his text tirade. He said “you think I said bad things last weekend? I’ve got much worse things I could have said…”
“Please don’t feel you have to say them now…” I tried to interject, but it was too late.
“I could’ve said that your body was disappointing. You didn’t look as good naked as I expected.
“I could’ve said that the sex wasn’t just synthetic, it was dull. It always seems to be the women who want casual sex, that aren’t very good at it.”
When he was casting aspersions on my personality, my mental health and my morals, I thought ‘sure’. But when he criticised my body – WOAH.
“What was disappointing about my body?” I asked, in quiet voice.
“Your breasts weren’t as big as I expected, and I thought you’d have more of an hourglass.”
“Oh.” As I was digesting this, he was already moving on.
“After this I’m going to text you again, saying not to contact me, so I’ve got it in writing, twice, that I’ve asked you not to contact me. Then, if you contact me again, I’ll report you to the police and…”
He paused, as if even he was unsure about whether to say the next part.
“… and I’ll report you to your professional body.”
I hung up. I slid down onto the kitchen floor, which I noted needed a good vacuum, and cried.
Then I worked out how to block him on my phone.
That was the end of my dalliance with Daniel.