Well what colour are his eyes?
I don’t know he’s always wearing shades
Is he tall?
Well, I’ve got to look up.
Yeah? Well I hear he’s bad.
mm, he’s good bad, but he’s not evil.
i remember the first time i listened to the shangri-las, in the car with madz. that seemingly nonsensical statement “good bad, but not evil” resonating with both of us as we daydreamed about the good-bad boys we’d known.
when i first became friends with maddy, i was in a very, very long term relationship. the kind where you imagine your futures together and become a “we” instead of an “i”. this had been especially true for me, as i had been so wrapped up in my love for this boy that slowly, without noticing, i’d been erasing parts of myself that were all my own. i stopped writing, at some point. i never really noticed until i’d started again. maddy scooped me out of the comfortable little hole i had created for myself, and i can never thank her enough for it. for the first time in years, someone wanted to know me as an individual, and i was scared when i realised how little there was left of her, of me. that relationship ended and even though it was beyond painful , i still consider myself so lucky to have had a love that was so good and so strong.
it’s been a while now, and the three of us single gals started to spend a lot of time talking and thinking and dreaming about boys. men, really, but i think it speaks to the idealism and the nostalgia that was really driving us that we never said so. it was always about boys. boys who would be exciting but never mean. boys who would make us feel interesting and interested and care about the dumb things we cared about. i think having a friendship like ours means that once we voice our feelings about something and share them with each other, they grow. we feed each others thoughts and emotions till they become bigger than we expected. sometimes, this is like a superpower. when we pool our creativity it turns into something magical, something good. but with this, it became something a little toxic.
thinking about boy gave us something to look forward to. it meant more nights curling up and watching rom coms, more nights out dancing hoping to catch someone’s eye. for me, i thought it was the natural next step, it meant i was moving on. but the time i spent thinking about boys was time i spent once again neglecting myself. i was a teenager, still in school when my ex-boyfriend and i got together. i had never spent time alone with myself, the adult woman, and focusing my time and energy on crushes with my friends meant i wouldn’t have to. despite all the great things we’ve all been achieving the only achievement that mattered to us was finding The Boy.
one by one, we each began to feel the toll of this. i think the key thing we all realised, or that i certainly did, was that once i had found the elusive Boy, i had no idea what i wanted to do with him. when i gave myself the space to think about it, i knew i wasn’t at all ready to be a “we” again. so what was i even looking for? in so many ways my life is better than it has ever been. unlike when i was a kid, i no longer live in fear. i am surrounded by people who i love, and people who love me back in a beautiful, uncomplicated way. there’s no pain in these relationships. but in other ways, i feel like i’m drowning. i feel too loud in my own brain, like i don’t have enough creative output, i feel too smart or not smart enough, pretty but in a fuckable not loveable kinda way. finding The Boy was a way of deflecting the attention from all the parts of myself i wasn’t ready to deal with, and also hoping to find someone who would make them all seem okay.
realising what this was doing to us has meant that our conversations are once again interesting, dynamic and varied. it’s meant that madz is writing some of her best poetry i’ve ever read, and charlie is creating beautiful art and beautiful food just because she can. for me it’s meant learning how to make music and sounds, learning to put pen to paper without tearing up whatever i come up with.
there are still boys. they still make me feel fluttery in my stomach and we talk about that sometimes. but i approach them as aayushi, a person i think i’m happy to know.
all my love,