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S01, Episode 4: The Reunion (pt2)
Just be you.
Oh good lord, on no account must they see the 'real' you. Noooo. Or at least Emma dilute is best; less sailor-sweary and more eloquent sophisticate. However much I delude myself this is, of course, impossible. I can only be myself. Oh, dear.
These people who I knew so intimately. We shared our teenage hopes, dreams and frustrations. We grew together and then apart. We have all changed and it would be dangerous to make assumptions. But as with family relationships, it is easy, too easy, to fall into old ways and habits.
'Alright, E.' Paul raises his pint in greeting, cool as always.
'Hey, pony-boy, still a git then?' I blurt out.
A wide smile and chuckles break the tension. And there it is the old ways. Hugs, warmth and fierce competition about who has aged the most - being the only woman in the group, I get ribbed mercilessly. But, I am the only one who uses moisturiser. We are a small group of six or so as many of our original set have moved away, mostly the creatives. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who found Aberdeen suffocating for creativity. Despite being few in number we are boisterous and conversation flows fast, the jokes are uproarious and I feel safe.
We definitely end up drinking too much and making tits of ourselves going to clubs and live music venues. What happens to your dancing abilities as you get near 40? I staggered around with two left feet, which I'm sure I never had before. It can't possibly be because we have been solid drinking for several hours. Many of the bars are filled with people who I went to school with and who had settled happily. This inevitably brought a million questions about what I was doing back in town.
Ross and I receive the inevitable commentary about getting together - accompanied by playground kissing noises and ribaldry. It’s all very hilarious to our friends.
Moving five hundred miles, readjusting my entire life based on a 'maybe we should give it ago' is sort of hilarious. It is also mad. But watching Ross easily navigate the move, the children and my anxieties I realise it wasn't the madness it might have seemed.
He deftly eases past any difficult questions our friends ask about my ex-husband or other aspects of my life that I'm not quite ready to share. He listens to the stories I share with attention and love. He relishes my excitement, gets drunk with me and we dance into the night like we were twenty again.
It was a great night but it nearly wasn’t.
Spilling out a nightclub in the early hours arouses a hunger response equal to a Tyrannosaurs after enforced Veganuary.
'Kebabss and chissppps!' Someone cries.
'Ooo yesh, spicier the bester...' My time in Africa means I can consume my body weight in chillis.
Coordinating six very drunk people in search of sustenance is a Herculean task. Especially when they are lumbering all over the place, talking all at once and not quite sure of which way they are facing.
Eventually, the necessaries are found. And this is when it all starts to unravel. The group scatters to various takeout shops with a firm agreement to head to Ross's flat once we have our food.
Only no one can quite remember where Ross lives.
Since we have scattered we can't consult one another. We could call or text but no one has anyone's number, we have all been so out of touch. To top it all I cleverly left my mobile phone at Ross's flat 'so as not to lose it'.
Technically, I could go home but my place is a taxi ride away and they will be as rare as hen's teeth now. Besides, I want to be with Ross. I have a good idea of where his flat is, so sustained with kebab I go adventuring.
Through the wind-blasted, bitter January streets I go, guided by old knowledge of the city from my youth. The city unfolds and my sense of direction gets stronger until I hit a snag. I am on a street with Victorian iron railings lining a small public park. The other side of that park is where I need to be. In my still befuddled state, the obviousness of walking around the park doesn't occur.
The spectacle of a 5ft inebriated woman hoisting herself over an iron fence at least a foot taller than her must have been a sight. I land in a bush of agonising prickliness with a yelp. Straightening myself, I see my scarf has failed to follow me over the fence. With much poking of long sticks and attempts not to get my arm stuck, I retrieve it, victorious. I battle through a large patch of bushes and flowers heading for the grassy part of the park I can see in the distance.
There is a rustle and a snorting. Terrified I freeze, even I know rummaging around in parks at 3 am isn't ideal. I slump into a crouch and slow my breathing, attempting to be quiet and inconspicuous. Hoping whatever horror was out there would pass me by. Crouching when drunk is harder than you think, the subsequent crash as I fell over and swearing probably blew my cover. To my relief, a fox shoots out from under my feet and away to quieter realms.
I pull myself together. To be honest, if anyone was intent on causing me harm, after witnessing this display they'd run in the opposite direction. I stride out towards the grass and the far exit, my goal in sight.
One foot in front of the other, until...
I take a roll and tumble, losing the remains of my kebab from its box as I hurtle through the air. Turns out the grass is a steep slope with a concrete path at the bottom. Somehow on the way down, I manage to regain balance and stumble into a standing position. Ta-da! I leave the park unharmed, save for a few grass stains and chilli sauce.
The exit leads me to a street where I am relatively sure Ross's flat is situated. The problem is all the flats look alike on this street and there don't appear to be any front doors. I can see no numbers either. Only rows of windows.
There is no record of how long I paced up and down that street looking up to the first floor wondering which flat was even Ross's, never mind how to gain access.
Some guardian angel must have taken pity, I looked up at one flat and a curtain opened to reveal Ross. He pointed to a tiny alley, that I had failed to notice.
There at the end were the door and Ross's arms.
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