At the start of the month and by pure coincidence, three of my best friends are in town. One is staying with me, the other up the road in Harringay, the third south of the river. We sit around tables pouring alcohol into our bodies, arms around each other, letting the warm steam of coffee soften our hangovers, cups of tea after work. After they’ve gone, I buy a bunch of daffodils for a pound in Tesco – they’re closed in cellophane, wrapper-cased with bursting yellow closed inside their cups. I put them in a pint glass of water on the table and wait for them to bloom.
There is something I like in the walk from Finsbury Park, something in Blackstock Road: the Turkish shops with baklava in the windows, the men who kiss each other on both cheeks, the doorway next to Sainsburys where there’s always a deal going on. One night with Keri, a bottle of wine between us and the bar getting busy around us, the long sheen of her hair. Later, Phil and I meet in a Thai place and stand in the Friday night queue. Every table is light around us and beneath are the circles of plate and glass. We flirt with the barmaid, whose hair is cut short and close to her head – and she surprises us with free drinks, a hibiscus flower purple and blooming in one, the bite of grapefruit, pink and sharp in another.
Chinese New Year with the girls, red paper lanterns over the streets and sound of the drums, the dancing dragon. Around a table, we lick the grease from our fingertips. On the way home, the snow is falling and outside the streets are empty and bare. The ground is too wet for it to settle though the cars covered. Maybe it’s because I’m reading a book set in Ireland or because we’ve been talking about ex-boyfriends but something comes suddenly to mind – those last lines in The Dubliners, the silent snow, the far off hills.
And in the middle of the month, I get a new job and leave freelancing behind – the past two weeks flying by quickly in new faces and routines, bus routes, computer screens.