First published here.
You wake up in the morning to the sound of your flatmate flat-footing it down the stairs. He got home late last night because he’s a lawyer and that’s what lawyers do; because he probably built a city or saved a company and you didn’t do much more than tweet your way from breakfast to lunch with a short trip to Boots in the middle to mix things up. You needed tampons, which you bought before your period even started, because you have a diary and a schedule and you do laundry on Saturdays and you can’t afford to be dealing with things like stains and mistakes.
There’s no shampoo left but that’s OK because as an adult you know that body wash will do much the same job; that it’s all just a ruse to get you to spend more more more on vanilla-scented products that won’t do much more than make you more attractive to bees, but that’s OK too, because the bees are dying and you, as an adult, would like to do something for the environment. “Saving the bees” can’t go on your CV as an interest or an accomplishment but it should because that’s something you’ve done this morning, and it’s not even 7 o’clock.
No, it’s 7:45, because you didn’t set your alarm last night because you were letting your phone battery run down to 0% because you read that that helps lengthen the battery life of iPhones because you read articles because you are an adult.
There’s no toothpaste left but that’s OK because your trip to Boots yesterday included the purchase of floss and mouthwash and so you have the makings of a McGyver-approved minty fresh mouth, and brushing too hard causes gum disease according to the terrifying ad with the bloodied eyes on the tube that you can’t look at anymore.
There’s no toilet paper left but that’s OK because you still have a brand new 8-pack of tennis socks that you bought from H&M on payday, and no one will know because it’s Friday and laundry day is Saturday and also, you don’t play tennis.
There’s one carriage on the tube that’s always empty enough, by some fluke, by some miracle alignment of tunnels and carriages and the tendency of people to turn right rather than left, for you to get a seat, and so you do. He’s playing a game and she’s listening to music but you, as an adult, are reading the paper, because that’s what your parents did and that’s what your boss does. People are dying. People are dying. People are dying.
No Starbucks for you. No Pret. No Nero. Fast food and over-priced coffee are for people who can’t stick to schedules and you can, and you have, even if you’re still a bit wet between the butt-cheeks because you didn’t towel off properly, even if you might be wearing the socks that you used to… never mind. You’ll buy a Big Issue, that’s what you’ll do. He smiles. You smile. You’ll never read it. He knows that.
The office is too cold and the lights are too bright and you can see the patchiness of your make-up like you couldn’t at home, but nobody here will notice. You drink a protein shake because protein will fill you up and make you strong and change you and turn you beautiful and then turn you into someone else altogether, eventually. Sugar-free and vanilla.
Nobody ever has as much work to do as you, you’re sure of it. Nobody even tries. Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, everyone is secretly snapping selfies and private messaging each other plans for lunch. You are an adult, and you have salad ingredients in the fridge. It’s delicious, you say. It’s healthy and filling and you only spend £10 a week on lunch. Think how many things you could spend that money on. Another long sleeved slightly sheer black top from Zara. Yes.
Everyone else is drinking but you decline a beer. You’re going to the gym. You’re becoming a new person, a better version, a cleaner model with more friends and better eco-efficiency. The gym is hot and it smells and they’ve run out of towels and you’re sure you might throw up if you spend one more minute on the treadmill and also, the distance counter on this machine is off. And that one. The breakability of things is sad, isn’t it sad?
Your dinner is healthy but that beer and those four chocolate bars and the wine gum you found in your shoe and ate anyway, they’re not. But your dinner was still healthy. People have messaged you but they’re not the right ones, and the right ones always say the wrong things, and they don’t even know. The underwire has come out of your bra and is stabbing you in the heart and that is a metaphor for modern life, for modernity, for the awful crushing modern-ness of strapping your breasts aloft with wire and you’d tweet it but you couldn’t possibly express it. They wouldn’t possibly understand.
You still have no toothpaste. You still have no shampoo. You still have no toilet paper. You’ve run out of socks.
Your mother would help you but she’s far away and she doesn’t care any more because you’re an adult and she gave you all the tools you need to fix it yourself.