I debated whether this should be posted to my writing blog – yes, I have a writing blog (writetoflirtwithlife.wordpress.com) – but it’s non-fiction and a good idea of what I’ve been up to lately, so here goes:
Don’t let anyone tell you that a girl named Molly doesn’t make the best kind of friend. The Molly I’m about to gush about, my Molly, is a girl I’ve known since we were fourteen, when I was more uncomfortable in my own skin than I am now. Now, we’ve both changed significantly, but when we’re in the same room it’s like those two years I went without seeing her never even existed.
This is a real story from two weekends ago.
Although, it was still quite a shock when I was absorbed back into her world when she turned up in London on Thursday, 15 March.
We hadn’t talked much about what we wanted to do – and I was under the impression she was arriving later than she did – so, when I got a Facebook message along the lines of, “I AM IN LONDON,” from the lovely lady while I was lounging in my pyjamas at 10:30pm, I scrambled into actual clothes and journeyed to King’s Cross tube station where Molly’s host, Clara, had instructed me to arrive.
This is where the strangeness began.
After nearly a twenty-minute walk to the pub where Molly and Clara were parked (during which time no one in Molly’s vicinity could remember that they had smart phones to help me navigate to my destination), I arrived on scene to find darling Molly like a vision in a white trench coat, slipping into her Culpeper accent as she chatted with a man with silver-grey hair, a clear indication that she’d already had a bit to drink.
This of course made her even more charming to everyone she’d gathered about her – two barristers and a law student – whom Clara didn’t seem impressed with, but whom I assumed to be friends she’d contacted to meet in London.
Steve, the oldest, told me I had beautiful hair, to which I probably did not respond appropriately but I wasn’t feeling particularly like flirting with a man who was closer to my father’s age than mine. Sean I didn’t get a full impression of, mostly because I assumed these men were teachers and student from the NYU campus where Clara was studying. He did like to do impressions of Marlon Brando, though. James, the man who’d taken offense when I made some comment about his disuse of a smart phone when giving me directions, I thought of as the type to try too hard.
Immediately, the barristers invited us out to a jazz club in Soho, which Molly couldn’t make up her mind about, but to which I responded, “Just say yes.”
The club, after a cab ride of English-American history lessons and horribly comedic impressions, was both jarring and relieving. Here I knew what was what – I have been in London long enough to feel comfortable in a bar setting – but I also knew I was pushing myself going out with people neither I nor Molly knew, as it always happens when Molly-the-extrovert and Ava-the-introvert combine forces. A mix of all ages and types, the club had a live band and a bar with inattentive tenders, which meant I didn’t pay for a damn thing for the whole evening. That was nice, but watching James pretend not to want to kiss Molly while Sean talked about the importance of a liberal arts education while Steve vacillated between ignoring our group entirely and chatting me up by asking me what I thought of the other men around me was both surreal and a little uncomfortable. It was all very backwards – as backwards as the club we were in. As fitting as it was that Molly and I should meet again in London where we’d both wanted to be all our lives.
The evening didn’t end until we were wandering near Piccadilly Circus and eating chips from a doner stand at 3am, when James had finally plucked up the courage to hold Molly’s hand even when he’d missed the opportunity to kiss her in the glass-strewn street. Clara was still recovering from her clash with the bouncer, who’d not bothered to call an ambulance when an underage girl had passed out on drugs on the dance floor. Sean was complaining (bragging?) about the work he’d be returning home to do as if lawyers never sleep, and Steve was telling me about his political leanings. I wondered briefly if he was saying offensive things to impress me, or to test me.
Either way, I took a big gulp of air when I climbed into my cab, leaving Molly, Clara, and the barristers behind at a taxi stand. I stared blankly at my cell phone for almost the entirety of the ride, feeling less like a grown-up by the second. The cabbie asked how my night had been, but I couldn’t ask him the same even though I wished I had. The man wanted to talk, and for a moment, I wanted an endless supply of gregariousness like Molly, but instead I tipped him 20% and wished him a good night when I stepped back onto familiar ground in Kensington.
That is not to say that being pushed into these situations with Molly isn’t always as much a reward as it is a discomfort.
Several days later I was still feeling the strangeness when Molly and I wandered over to the Sherlock Holmes pub from Embankment after the weather had turned for the worse on Sunday. We clambered onto two stools by the window facing an alley and I bought us two Cokes at the bar before giving up the other half of the table to an older couple who had just been at the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square.
In between our talks about fiction writing and high school drama, one of the couple, Heather, asked us if we were in theatre.
Thus began another lengthy adventure à la Molly et Ava, wherein we were figuratively adopted by Bob and Heather from Thetford, Norfolk, who then proceeded to adopt 1) a San Franciscan software man who wanted to show his wealth by buying us copious drinks, whom Heather called Ken, 2) a Hungarian man who neither spoke English nor had a place to stay for the night before returning to Budapest in the morning, who we discovered was named Ga’bor, 3) a Brazilian student, Leticia, who wore a leprechaun’s hat throughout, and 4) a couple from Phoenix, Arizona, Bob and Michael, whom Heather called Bob and Justin. There was discussion of politics, there was hair plaiting, there was copious alcohol consumed and repetition of the same joke five times over, but there was also singing with Molly while the whole pub went hushed, there was that one glance or two when Ga’bor mumbled to me in Hungarian, there was Thai near Goodge Street with Heather and Rob, which felt like a dinner with an overly appreciative uncle and auntie. There was hugging and exchange of information and a promise to see one another again when the Norfolk folks were back in London.
I didn’t see Molly after that, but read and laughed too hard over her own account of the shenanigans that had passed, missed her already even as she flew back to Madrid.
I haven’t talked to her since, but I’m still carrying a bit of the accent she brought with her. I’m still remembering how different we are and how much we’ve changed and how Molly is all over and I’m all in one place, but,
I remember what a friend had said over drinks at the Gloucester Arms, while Molly and I squabbled over some such thing, back and forth with as many insults as endearments. “You guys have clearly been friends for a long time.”
I hope that’s a truth until Molly and I are getting our hips replaced.
If not for the hilariousness of that thought, then for the chance to see how much things change and still remain the same.
If you’d like an account of those weekends from Molly’s perspective, check out ofgeography.tumblr.com. Because Molly is much funnier than I.