Date: 23 May 2015
Location: 6am Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Riga.
Mixing friends is chemistry. Add people to a beaker and wait. You usually get a reaction. Sometimes it bubbles along nicely. And sometimes it blows up in your face.
I love science.
Generally when I dabble in friend-mixing I like to pix my reagents carefully. For example, each year I throw a Christmas cocktail party at my house and little gives me as much pleasure as choosing the guest list and thinking about how each person will affect the evening's energy, its fizz and its colour.
I don't always have such precise control.
This weekend we're going to Latvia. The cohort was originally intended to be the same as that for Budapest but Twiggy cried off poor and Paris seemed uninterested. But we had quorum: Chandler, Monica, The Journalist and me. Then, months ago (pre Journalist drama!), a uni friend who's now living in London sent me a text — 'Catch up?'. We did, I mentioned Latvia and she was so keen she booked her flights that day.
Let's call her Monroe for our purposes. She's a voluptuous bombshell blonde criminal lawyer seldom seen out of a pair of black high heels. She is loud and fun and and loves wine and is never shy about voicing her opinion. This gets her into trouble. She eats men up like jello. This also gets her into trouble. During our uni days she was always front and centre: in the DJ booth with Andy Murphy at Room, on the LSS President's table at the Law Ball, holding court before wrapt boys in the law school basement.
By way of a dry run for our weekend away I invited Monroe along to a friend of a friend's house party in Maidavale last weekend. Around midnight, she managed to get us kicked out for squabbling with one of the hosts. Kaboom. Not a promising start.
Then Latvia weekend arrived. Sometime, somehow, in the months between booking and flying, my original Friday midday flight to Latvia had been cancelled and I had rebooked onto an early Saturday flight. Because I'm a terrible person, I forgot to mention any of this to Monroe. The result of this was a furious text exchange on Friday when she found herself at the airport … and I did not. Luckily the Journalist was also to be in Latvia a day early so I put them in touch via WhatsApp.
In the early hours of Friday evening I received a cheerful string of messages that made me smile. A photo of a frosty beer on a wooden table in a Disney-like Eastern European city. A photo of Monroe with a giant wine glass and a Lonely Planet guide. A text fake-complaining that he was being dragged on pub crawl with her. Then, silence.
Still in London, I set my alarm for 3am. However, I needn't have bothered. My best laid plans for back to back episodes of reality show Face Off followed by bed by 9pm and sleep by 10pm were ruined. I thrashed around, too hot in my sheets. I must have drifted off around 1am and woke, jarred and with nerves clanging, in the dark to my alarm at 3am. I checked my phone: nothing, save a cute WhatsApp photo from Wolfgang. I tried not to irrationally hate him.
What had happened?
Besides hoping that everyone was getting along, I noticed that I'd been thrown into a deeply selfish, possessive panic. The Journalist and I are not dating. We're hanging out. Neither owes anything to the other save nice manners and respect. If he and Monroe had gotten drunk on Latvian lagers and had a romantic moment over piragi followed by a Baltic snog then it would (to quote Wolfgang, whom I'd thankfully forgotten to hate and with whom I'd spent the train trip to the airport furiously texting) be 'a bit shit' by both of them but technically, not a breach of trust — or would it?
I love science.