I want to tell the man on the train, peering over his shoulder at his laptop, that his email doesn't look interesting enough to be worth reading at quarter past eight in the morning. The sun hits the back of the Victorian terraces at the perfect angle at the perfect time, piercing through the mist, and everything shimmers, looks fixable. I want to tell him to look up, look out of the window, take it all in because it might only be beautiful now and his inbox will always be dull. I want someone to tell me the same when I am too absorbed in things, and yet I know that my wife does that all the time and I know that I don't like it.
Last night, I wanted to tell the old man in the supermarket that it was okay to just buy a baguette and a big bottle of Breton cider and he shouldn't slouch towards the checkout looking faintly embarrassed. I wanted him to feel the approval of a stranger, in a world so powered by judgements. I wanted, just once, to be on the side of the approvers and not the judgers.
I want to point out to the two men behind me that they aren't as funny as they think they are. Their conversation is pitched just loud enough that it gets in the way and just quiet enough that I can't make it out. I can tell from their tone that hilarity lies therein, albeit not the sort they intended, and I want to tell them to speak up or shut up. As I get off the train, I notice that they are wearing ties and I want to congratulate them on that, as so few people do.
When I walk past the enormous queue of dejected commuters at the station, lined up waiting for their cups of acrid disappointment, I want to tell them to go round the corner to Tutti Frutti, where Paul will remember their names and what they want, will ask them about their day, will fit them into a different, better jigsaw and make them human again. But I also want to get my coffee from him without being behind a queue of other people. I want it my way or not at all, I want it both ways.
I've wanted to say "I love your hat" so many times to so many people. I want to be the kind of person who says that kind of thing.
I want to say No to all the stupid questions and I don't care to all the so-called motivational speeches. I want to hang up on calls and walk out of meetings. I want to go round my office when everybody has left, when the cleaners trundle through the corridors, morose ruminants, and write jokes on all the whiteboards, underneath all the indecipherable flow charts and diagrams, all the brainstorms that never quite generated lightning. I want to leave Post-It notes on random desks.
I want to tell all the fat women that there are men out there who won’t care that they’re fat. I want to tell all the ugly men that there will be women who won’t care that they aren’t handsome, or better still will think that they are, against all evidence to the contrary. I want to tell the unhappy-looking people that somebody will make them happy, even though I am not always happy myself. I burst with secrets everyone should know, and yet I don’t understand anything about my own life.
I want someone to tell me it will all be fine, and make me feel that it’s true, but I also know that the only person who can really do that is me. I want to say it, and I want to believe it, but I’m not there yet.