I started my blog five years ago today.
It was hot outside – though not as hot as today – and I was sitting in my tiny, muggy top-floor flat, baking gently on Gas Mark Bored. I was probably wearing just my underwear, which would be a terrifying proposition now, but back then I was 34 and ran every day and hardly ever ate because I had forgotten how to cook for one.
I don’t know for sure, but, if I know me then, there will have been washing up in the sink.
I was feeling sad and a little bit lonely and like everything was possible and yet nothing was.
I remember a thing on Twitter a while ago where people would tweet about what they’d say to their 16-year-old selves. I wouldn’t say anything; 16-year-old me would not be interested in anything anyone my age had to say, but also, any words of encouragement I would have for this awkward teenager would feel false. I’d be too much of a coward to tell him how hard things were going to be, and that being himself probably wasn’t an option for quite a while. How to explain to someone enduring the 1990s in Yorkshire that things would one day be really great, but for a long time they’d be awful? He’d give up, he’d never try. He wouldn’t believe.
So instead of time-travelling to my badly decorated wankpit of my teenage years, I’d instead transport myself to 2010, the day I started the blog.
After I had told 34-year-old me to stop screaming at the amount of grey hair he would have in five years’ time, and explained where that runner’s body had gone – “Have you been eating BREAD?!?” he would no doubt yell in horror – I would ask what he was planning to do that day, whether he’d thought any more doing that blog.
I know he is having that conversation in his head already, because I had it myself, of course. The blog had no aim other than to make my best friend, who had just moved thousands of miles away, laugh. She would ask about my dates – I had only been on a few at that point – and on hearing my replies, say I should keep a diary of them all. I wasn’t interested in making it public, really – I was already going pretty well in my freelancing career and the blog didn’t fit in at all with my other work.
But maybe I could be anonymous and speak freely and, of course, with my own anonymity preserve that of the men I dated. I was coming home from these dates disappointed both with the guys and with myself, play-acting my way through three hours of drinks, which I did with tens of unsuitable men, and after I shut the front door behind me, I would have nobody to talk about them with, so all my self-doubt and sadness whirled around in my head, and I couldn’t see it changing any time soon. The present can be blinding.
I have always written my way out of dark and confusing places. It couldn’t hurt to do it one more time, could it?
So what would I say to the 2010 me, about to sign up to WordPress and put it all out there for precisely nobody to see for their first few months or so?
Would I tell myself not to do it?
Would I warn myself that people would accuse me of wanting to be Carrie Bradshaw (a fucking ridiculous thing to say – Carrie Bradshaw is an idiot – and mostly levelled at me by people who have never read the blog or misunderstood it)?
Would I tell myself that it would make people angry, even those who’d never been on the dates? Would I warn 2010 me that men would proposition him, or want him to write about them?
Maybe I should tell myself how divisive it would be, and how people may not understand that it wasn’t about making me sound superior, that they wouldn’t read closely and see that the blog was as much about my being a disaster as anyone else?
Would I mention that the bad dates would get darker and the good dates sparser, that sometimes I would sit staring at a laptop with a tear in my eye trying to make sense of what had just happened?
Would I remind myself these were real people’s lives and that I would at times come across as selfish and spoiled and blinkered and judgemental and stupid and sneery and self-absorbed?
Would I perk myself up by talking about all the brilliant people he would meet – virtually and in real life – because of it, and how lots of them would read it and identify with it and love it and root for me and give me encouragement to try just one more date?
Would I say how eventually it would lead to falling in love?
No, I wouldn’t say any of that. Why should the 2010 version of me get a break? I’d find all this out soon enough.
I’d say just that he should definitely do it. The whole point of writing is to be read; I’d definitely remind myself of that.
But make it funnier, I’d say. And don’t call it “Guyliner” – you’ll come to regret that one day.
Then I’d tell him to put a fucking shirt on because he was making me envious.
And hopefully, because although this is a slightly sad, historical version of me, it is still me, I would tell my future self to fuck off and mind its own business, because I am going to do it his way, thank you very much, and if you don’t like it, you can ping on back to the future and sort out those fucking love handles, you thirsty old dog.
If you’ve read my blog over the last five years, thank you.