I started this piece last week, but some how couldn’t manage to get my brain to work enough to complete it. Let’s try again shall we?
I lived in London for a while.
You would think that everything about a city that size would provoke extreme levels of anxiety for a socially panicked, agoraphobic girl. But lots of things about London suited me down to a tea.
There, I found a level of anonymity that only a vast crowd of pissed-off hospo staff, office workers and cleaners can offer you; the anonymity of ‘get the fuck out of my way’. A million people might buzz past me on a day out shopping in Covent Garden but not a single one gave a flying fuck what I was doing or if I was making a twat of myself. On any street in London you will find a surfeit of people far stranger than I could ever hope or fear I may be. So what if I am nervously fast walking up the street looking for a bathroom to hide in? Compared to the dude in an 18 inch laced and boned corset, spiked latex heeled boots, and mini skirt, preaching about the love of Jesus and handing out questionable looking sweets, I am but a blip on the social radar.
Something I did find difficult about London was queuing, the classic British pass time. You have to queue for pretty much everything in London. If there was no queue, it lead to wrinkled noses and dubious questions as to the validity of said business.
Queues at the Post Office and bank were the hardest for me because they were ALWAYS long and there never seemed to be toilets anywhere near to save me in a panic. After work one day, I resolved to make the journey (a ten minute walk) to what was then the closest HSBC and sort out what ever banking related issues I was having. Funnily enough, I have no idea why I was there but the memory of what happened will stay with me forever.
I was feeling brave and steady of stomach when I walked in, but after waiting in the desk line then moving on to the ‘sitting down enquiries’ line, my nerves were on the verge of breaking.
I knew if I left now and came back I would have to wait in both lines again causing the same internal issues (my digestive system was not a fan of waiting and on this particular day the longer it took, the more liquid my bowels became). By the time I got to the front of the line, faced with a smiling young woman who offered me a generic, cushioned barrel chair, I was clenching hard. I asked her if they had a bathroom for customers. They did not. The idea of trying to have a real grown-up conversation about money or credit or whatever, while I was in such a state seemed impossible. I told her I would be right back and shot out the front door like a greased cannonball. I knew the public toilets across the road were locked but luckily I had spied a pub a few doors up. Thank the Lord for London’s capacity for an open pub on every corner.
After sorting myself out for less than the ideal amount of time, I literally ran back to the bank and plonked into the aforementioned seat to the concerned gaze of my banking operative. Now to be clear, I don’t do lying. I’m terrible at it and my guilt complex is vast.
“Morning sickness” I said. A total and utter lie.
“Oh” she smiled. “How far along are you?”
“About 10 weeks” I replied feeling more and more guilty for telling a nice lady a massive bullshit story.
I don’t know why I didn’t just admit that I had a dicky tummy. I guess the idea of saying “I needed a shit” was too much for me in those days. Honestly, I don’t know if I would be able to say that even now. So, why is ‘needing to vom cause knocked-up’ less embarrassing than the honest explanation of anxiety?
I still don’t really know the answer but when I claimed to be pregnant she seemed to understand and empathise with my plight. The universal language of sickness and human regeneration is more acceptable than something we all do every day, shitting.