The art of being your own romance
By Imani Thompson / 16th January 2020
Illustration by Niamh Power
Once in a while, take yourself to the ocean.
Don't worry if the day is grey, a scarf will always do, and a takeaway hot chocolate - a little too watery - in a small cardboard cup. Walk long and slow along the beach. Find the smoothest pebble to skim on the water, then another, try once more. Talk to yourself, shout and laugh and sing. Wear wellies so that if a wave catches you, let it splash whilst you run back at it. Look about the rock pools where crabs and tiny fish swim in salt. If it starts to rain, dash to a cafe and order yourself a large plate of chips - ketchup and vinegar. Don't bother yourself with doing anything but licking your fingers and watching the day belly up in the clouds. On the bus ride home make up stories for the passengers around you. Perhaps the man with the fantastically large nose is a Russian spy, perhaps he spent the afternoon with a forbidden lover.
When you arrive home, tell no one where you've been.
Be sure they don't smell the ocean on you.
Wear silk to bed. Shave your legs because it's not summer and you have nowhere to go. On Thursdays date yourself. A movie with popcorn, sweet and salty. Roller-blading in the park, followed by sneaking onto a rooftop to watch the sun fall behind the city. Play Billie Holiday, curl your hair, apply a smokey eye, wear that little black dress you found in the second-hand shop on the corner, and take yourself to a play. Cook a stew with apricots and saffron, light candles, drink wine. Lie in the bath and read Shakespeare aloud. Laugh because you don't understand anything, holding your breath under the bubbles. Spray perfume, wear silk to bed.
Try on all your dresses. Pull out every useless, pointless object you have ever bought and arrange them on the carpet. Start making bread. Forget you've started making bread. Go on a walk and pick wildflowers for your bedroom. Buy yourself lace underwear to wear with a cardigan and fluffy socks. Lying by the fire listening to the playlist of your thirteen-year-old self. Cry about something insignificant and ignore the phone as it rings. Remember you're making bread. Stand in front of the mirror and undress yourself with the eyes of a lover: delight in your freckles, frizzy hair, sparkling eyes, soft stomach and peachy bottom.
Think yourself a marvel. A miracle.
The accidental finding of the end of a rainbow.
Twinkle and giggle, twirl through your sunlit speckled home. Get down on one knee and declare yourself to be the best, and only lover you shall ever need.
And see, just see, what happens to the world when you walk back down the street your hand in your hand.
How the trees bend for you to wonder the forest.
Of course, if someone asks the secret, you wink, and buy them a bus ticket to the ocean.
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