Apologies I’ve been a little quiet of late. I’m going through ‘some health issues’ that I may blog about soon but I feel wiped out. I think the situation will improve over time, but I need to listen to my body … even though my body is telling me to watch The Good Wife in bed whilst eating Kit Kats. But I wanted to tell you what happened on Saturday.
The plan was that I would go up to London to meet my first Guardian Soulmates date. Now I never normally travel on a first date but I just quite fancied the trip if I’m honest. Plus he seemed normal enough (don’t they all at first), and it just made sense. I got to the train station and the train was delayed. I hate being late for anything, it makes me very anxious, so the trip didn’t start out well. But the sun was shining, so I just text my date to explain I’d be late.
By the time the train arrived, it was quite busy, but I got a seat no problem and started to watch a film on my phone I’d downloaded. (Manchester By The Sea – very good.) And then the train got busier and busier at each station, and I started to feel a little panicky. You see I have ‘a bit of an issue’, without going into major detail, about closed-in spaces … it’s all connected to my past relationship, and if I can’t see a way out of a situation, whether that’s a lift or a tube, I start to panic.
My heart began to race. I put my phone down and couldn’t see the train door for all of the football fans as it was now standing-room only. I tried to listen to a download on my phone for this very purpose. It didn’t work. I stood up. Wondered what the hell I was going to do. I only had two more stops to go before I got to London but knew if I didn’t do something, I wouldn’t make it.
So I did something really rather embarrassing, but it saved me. I spoke to someone on public transport.
I know, I know, it’s just not the done thing, but I knew that if I could talk to someone it would take my mind off how I was feeling and distract me long enough to get me through the next ten minutes.
I eyed up my victims. Which football fan looked the friendliest? Was there a woman I could talk to? (There wasn’t.) So I chose a man stood near me, in his 50’s, travelling with his teenage daughter, and leant over to him and whispered in his ear. I mean how embarrassing right? Poor sod.
“Excuse me? I know this might seem a little weird, but I get very anxious on trains when it gets very busy, and I wondered if you wouldn’t mind just talking to me until we get to St Pancras.”
He styled it out, didn’t look too phased and began a very benign, normal conversation.
- Why was I going to London?
- What football team did he support?
- His other daughter normally joined him but was at a Little Mix concert.
- Who was I meeting and what was he like?
- How he normally drives to watch Spurs.
- Train vs. car debate.
And so on. And then another fan joined in, and before I knew it, we were coming into St Pancras and I could have cried with relief. My heart rate had slowed. My sweaty palms had dried up. And although I wondered how on earth I’d be able to travel home later if it was this busy, I was just so grateful to this man for (albeit inadvertently) looking after me I just focused on thanking him and making my way through the crowds.
It’s a strange thing, anxiety. Something that has come into my life as a 40-something, and through no fault of my own. It only manifests itself in certain situations, but the medication I’m currently on seems to be exacerbating it. Which is nice.
Anyway, I survived, needed a wee, didn’t have time for one, so dashed up to Granary Square, behind St Pancras station, where we were due to meet. But as I found a place to wait, as far away from the singing Christmas tree as I could, my date came running up behind me as he’d followed me up the road and realised it was me.
Just at the same time as a poor old lady tripped and fell right at my feet.
I went into First Aider mode and bent down to the lady to see if she was OK. I did note that although I’d taken charge of the situation, my date didn’t really offer to help out, which was disappointing, but I guess we all handle these situations differently. After she caught her breath, I managed to help get her to her feet and made sure she was OK before my date and I left her and ‘met’ each other properly.
And that’s probably as much as I’m going to say about the date at this stage, other than to say we drank wine in a Greek restaurant, got to know each other, and he walked me back to the station as I had to get home to go out for my best friend’s birthday that night. I don’t know how I feel or what I think about him yet as I want to take things slowly, but right now, I’ll be honest, I’m unsure. So I’ll leave it here for now.
But that’s what happened on Saturday.
Photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia