2.8 I can’t speak to my boyfriend for ten days.

I can’t speak to my boyfriend for ten days and no we’re not doing some new-wave couples therapy – Cripes! It’s only been 3 months, 25 days, 12 hours and 3 minutes. It’s just that he’s in Africa.

So that means no emails, no texts, no Whatsapp, no Twitter, no Instagram, no nothing. In fact the only bullet point listed under the ‘communication’ tab on the website of his accommodation was “satellite phone in emergency” and I’m thinking sending your girlfriend an emoticon of an eggplant doesn’t really count as an emergency (not that he’d ever send that).

This is the only bad thing about dating a travel writer. (No really, that’s it) This is the longest we’ve not had contact since the four months before we even met. It sucks. I’m not going to lie, yesterday I was moping around like an emo-riffic teenager. Little Miss Hrumpf at everything. Of course I want my coffee black, salad if it comes in black too thanks. Today is better, I’m busying myself with powerpoints, work and what-not and that’s what Wednesday’s are for right?

In what situation these days do we ever have to go ten days without some form of communication though? Sure Dad goes on fishing trips for five days and I know some of you have husbands that work on the mines and all that catching up on “Australia’s Next Top Model” and re-arranging his sock drawer is fun for the first fourteen seconds. But you still have that option to call at the end of the day or on your lunch break if you really need to know where that hammer is. Which you shouldn’t have to do anyway – as you’re a woman and finding things you’re not supposed to is easier than CIA child’s play.

I’ve got ways to deal with the impending nine more days of staring at my phone waiting for it to breathe life in the form of text from another latitude of this world: There’s that $200 worth of fabric I bought at Lincraft to make a skirting-start on, there’s that thing you do Monday to Friday called work, there’s that Tan track I live right near to run around. But after all that sewing, working and running all I want to do is send or receive a message to or from the boyfriend and I can’t! Hrumpf.

This makes me worry how addicted I’ve become to my phone, or to the communication or to social media – or to the whole she-twitter-book-bang? I’ve really cut back my Facebook usage since being back in Australia – I can see my friends at lunch, hear about their hangovers and see their new haircuts in person. And I don’t need to be posting 14,000 pics of myself because a) I’m not travelling so it’s not very exciting and b) I’m not posting pics of bars in Melbourne – that’s boring (and secret). It’s more fun to laugh at people from Sydney trying to find them. (Yes down that alley and through the nondescript door) So maybe my love-stalk-affair with Facebook really has worn off.

I keep reading articles saying to get off Facebook because it’s making you jealous, fat and miserable with your life. Oh Facebook-effing-please. I feel like that walking around on my lunch break and not just from eating $15 worth of sushi because goddamn I missed it so much the last two we-don’t-have-sushi-years-in-London. There’s enough skinny, well dressed, made up to high-heeled heaven women wondering the streets to make me feel frumpy without Facebook enough.

So when it comes to all this jealousy and cursing the skinny people who are meant to be your 648 ‘friends’ on Facebook, clearly I’m a little weird because seeing ‘friends’ on sailboats in Croatia and climbing mountains in Switzerland spurred me on as I was never much the traveller and seeing these pretty pictures on Facebook gave me a kick up the get-out-there-and-do-it-yourself-butt. Though I can’t really say all those babies on my news-feed are doing the same thing for me… yet.

So I’m down to eight point five days now of zero boyfriend communication and I’m keeping busy with insta-whatsapp-tweeting-the-crap out of every friend-and-thing-I-have. As I figure while my boyfriend can’t Instagram photos of what he’s eating, someone’s got to pick up the pancake slack. Till then I’ll telepathically tell him I miss him and to hurry up and use that satellite phone for an emoticon emergency.

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2.6 Be careful – friends, they’re everywhere.

My Dad always told me, “You’ll never make as good friends as you did when you were in high school.” Well, I beg to differ Dad. At high school I was the weird, Triple j loving, dying my hair black, can everyone leave me alone please, what-everyone-was-before-emo teen who wasn’t exactly rolling high in the friend stakes.

I grew up in the country and moved to the big smoke – cough, Perth – at 17 and I had to make new friends. It was a make or break-wine-bottles-on-your-own type thing and I ended up at a male-dominated tertiary college with the strangest smattering of dudes and dudey-type girls who wore corduroy pants for friends. Never mind that, country kids work with what they’ve got.

Then came the Melbourne shift – paging Teknoscape (our all important Perth dance music discussion forum) and any other drum and bass brave soul who’d made the move from Perth. Luckily through those drunk chats at Heat nightclub I’d found at least one girlfriend to do tequila shots with and lose in Brown Alley. (No really, there is a Brown Alley in this city – no innuendos there.) Then came a break-up in a city where I knew no one and it was my colleagues who stepped up. Well, I forced them to be my friendlings and listen to my West Coast whinging: “Where the hell do I buy Redken in this city? And what is the point of hook turns besides a t-bone car crash? And we call them lacky bands and placky bags and it’s polony not devon! You Melbourne morons.” Just kidding muffin-top-Melbourne, and I love your fluoro green tram handles.

So I’d made a nice little niche of friends in Melbourne and what did I do? I threw them all out the tram window to live to a city I’d never been to. Go Team London. I lived with, worked with, shared copious Tim tam tears with and patted drunk hair with some of my now closest and most amazing friends in that miserable, grey excuse for such a fantastic city.

Sarah and poor Gordon were all too familiar with me still in last night’s dress and sms-ing them while screaming down the three flights of London sharehouse stairs to tell them about my night and boys and desire for greasy bacon. I would never have bumped into these guys twice living in Aus but living under our same fox-intruding, fake-rat-hiding, bottles-of-wine-consuming, Hutch roof, these friendships were made to last. (Yes, the housemate in the loft was really called Hutch)

I have friends, and I’m on the outskirts of girls who have known their friends since high school, and sometimes I am zapped with a teenie bit of jealousy when I see their matching necklaces and them being bridesmaid after bridesmaid at all their weddings and wonder… What would that really be like? I’ve never had the option and telling me that my only friends have to be the ones from high school is like telling me I can only have the iPhone3 for the rest of my life. No.

I love the friends I’ve met and made since leaving high school – the array of backgrounds, the crazy, and the countries they come from and the fact we get along better than a Facebook and a stalk makes me glad I didn’t take Dad’s words to be final. But to those I met in my Beeverloop-shirt-wearing days, I love that we can catch up 17 years on and pretend that vomiting in your backyard after the school ball never happened.

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2.5 Date a guy who…

Date a guy who remembers your friend’s names and the things you babble about them that have no significance to him whatsoever. Even if that means three different Lauren’s and two Michelle’s, ohh hang on… maybe that makes things easier.

Date a guy who doesn’t care you have spots on your face that are currently destroying your life and your ability to go out in public or face the checkout girl and says you’re still pretty and doesn’t stare at them like everyone else.

Date a guy who sees you have potential for something and gently suggests you have a go at it without being pushy and boosts your confidence in a non ‘hmm is he just saying this to be nice way?’ And maintains support even if you’re really crap at it.

Date a guy who buys you a new scarf when you’ve lost your favourite one and are still pining for it holes and all calling cab companies asking if they’ve seen it three weeks later and are a little worried how attached you’ve became to something so grey and long.

Date a guy who books you a stupidly expensive flight to see him even though you’ll only see him for seventeen hours and at least six of them you’ll be asleep and you if you had enough cash you’d be doing the exact same thing.

Date a guy who gives you cuddles when you have a disgusting head cold and the molten lava spewing forth from your face is enough to make even your Mum throw tissues at you and calmly go back to watching Days of Our Lives.

Date a guy who comes to the hospital straight after he gets off a flight and asks the reception desk three times till he gets to see you AND brings you salt and vinegar chips.

Date a guy who knows by one look, you want to go, you’ve had enough gin, your friend is boring the beejeebus out of you, or uTorrent is complete and you need to watch Games of Thrones NOW.

Date a guy who can cook. Not just heat up pasta sauce and boil some water cook. I mean he can actually cook really good meals with ingredients you can’t even pronounce the names of. (Stop eating them, you’re getting fat)

Date a guy who doesn’t think you’re weird – even if 94.6% of the other guys you’ve dated have said you’re weird and maybe you are.

Date a guy who doesn’t make fun of your sequined slippers or you love affair for Pantone paraphernalia and won’t poke fun of anything he knows you like anyway because he knows that’s a douchy thing to do.

Date a guy who will be supportive through shitty times for you. Whether that’s unemployment, losing friends or your twenty eight day emotional hide the china mood swings.

Date a guy who’s eager to make future plans with you without getting all weirded out and doesn’t flinch when making plans to book a holiday months in advance.

Date a guy who will talk through a fight like a mature adult and not stomp off to his man cave immediately or fight with low emotional blows that aim to hurt you or win the argument.

Date a guy who Skypes you from Fiji – not to gloat (you hope) but to see your face because he’s tired of his plunge pool, palm trees and pina coladas.

Date a guy who can calm you down, hold your hand and reassure you everything’s going to be fine when you’re utterly flipping out over missing a flight, a leg, or an iPhone.

Date a guy who offers to help when you’re fumbling with jacket, handbag and flailing like the independent woman you are refusing it while you find that ringing phone.

Date a guy who isn’t… imaginary.

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2.4 I stalked a travel writer online and now he’s my boyfriend.

True story. I actually did. It’s time to tell how my online stalking prowess nabbed me the boy of my dreams without scaring the beejeebus out of him.

I’d been reading Ben Groundwater’s travel blog on the ‘The Age’ every goddamn miserable London day as it was my little connection to home – Melbourne.

His beaming smile of a headshot and his surly, sarcastic take on ‘not another bloody temple’ travel stories had me wondering what was this guy like in real life and gosh he complains a lot for someone who travels the world as his job. But let’s be honest, I’ve sat at Istanbul airport for eleven hours and slept on beds I thought would digest my skin by morning and know traveling isn’t all what Facebook pics make it out to be – at least he was telling it like it is. And I liked that. A lot. Well I liked his writing a lot. Cue: reading his last 4823 blog entries. Just kidding it was like 278 or something like that but who’s counting.

I tweeted at him a few times in July last year and got a reply. This guy probably polite tweets back at everyone though right? He works for a newspaper – it’s his job. I started following him on Instagram in November and at some point between my twitter admiring and four months of solo travel I noticed he appeared to be almost following me around Europe and made a few comments to that effect on his Instagram photos. Ok, so maybe some of the comments got out of flirting hand. And I’ll mention I was pre morning coffee and not really thinking when I wrote the ‘grandkids’ comment below:

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Right. So that happened. I added him on Facebook while unpacking boxes and settling into Melbourne in December thinking he can only say no, and he’ll probably say yes, because he looks like a FB friend collector with his 700+ friends already. He accepted (Yay!) and we chatted ‘Hi’ and ‘Hi’ and boring stuff like that.

Meanwhile I was still reading his blog on ‘The Age’ and he wrote about being in Barcelona with his GIRLFRIEND. I think I read that article sixteen times staring at the word ‘girlfriend’ over and over wanting my iPhone screen to crack and it to not be true. I told myself maybe the editor ran a really old story or something and besides what was he doing Insta-flirting with me if he had a girlfriend? Hrumpf.

I’d purchased his book by this point “5 Ways to carry a Goat” after numerous Google searches of… ‘Ben Groundwater’, what else were you thinking? And had a thorough poke around his personal website which seemed to be all about his book and putting together Ikea furniture with… his girlfriend. Hmm. There’s that girlfriend again. The site looked a little out of date anyway so I pretended I didn’t see that either. Head in the sand Lorenza.

I was at my parents house for Christmas and Dad picked up the book loudly reading out the name on the cover “B E N   G R O U N D W A T E R – Who’s that?” I told dad – He was a writer for ‘The Age’ and I’d added him on Facebook and we’d been messaging ever since. “Why on earth would he talk to you?” pondered Dad with a big smile. Geez thanks Dad. But I guess he had a point.

New Years day I woke up stupidly hungover and spent most the day in bed when a ridiculous, flirtatious, maybe bad taste Instagram idea struck:

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Well he didn’t seem scared off by that and the Facebook messaging was continuing in short bursts back and forth arriving painfully three to four days apart. Staring at my inbox each day waiting to see when he’d get bored and just stop messaging. Because he was in places like Berlin and the South of France so why on earth would a girl he’s never met message replies be at the top of his list of things to do? But slowly, they still rolled in. The hardest part for me was replying then waiting four days to press send.

It’s was the New Year and a few flirting fat cat comments later and my friend suggested after seeing the photo comments below to just hurry up and ask the guy out for coffee:

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So I finally thought Ok, fine. It’s time to break the most important rule EVER and ask the guy out. Because what else was I doing with 88.6% of my spare time other than being infatuated with Ben Groundwater? Plus there was still that girlfriend matter to clear up. It took a few wines of courage followed by constant phone checking with hands half covering eyes too scared to see a response for the remainder of the night:

Me: If you’re single and we’re ever in the same city we should meet up for coffee, that would make my day.

Hours I tell you, hours till he replied. I don’t care he was on the other side of the world in a different timezone most likely asleep, I stayed up till the wine couldn’t carry me anymore and finally awoke to:

Ben Groundwater: Got the first bit sorted. How’s your March looking and can we swap the coffee for wine?

JESUS CHRIST FENTON – Ben Groundwater is single and he wants to DRINK WINE WITH ME! Screen grab – send to 17 friends immediately. This girl’s got a date. Yay!

We continued to message on Facebook and it was freelance time for me followed by fark loads of spare time so the messages were turning into 600+ word essays. I was learning more about this guy than I learned in high-school and he still sounded pretty awesome. What on earth were these messages about? Everything, anything. Obsessions, confessions. It’s easy to ask questions when you can’t see someone’s face. Though you can’t gauge a reaction whether you’re insulting or upsetting them – which I did neither of, of course. Cough.

Worried about meeting him was an understatement – what if he was a foot shorter than me? Or he smelt funny? Yes, these were the things I was actually worried about. And don’t worry I was loudly telling him all my fears along with playing down everything possible about me with statements like “I actually look a lot better in photos than real life, so don’t get too excited.” And “When I drink wine I’m really loud – like obnoxiously loud and flail my arms around”. Uh huh.

We were still messaging on Facebook and by now had started Facebook chatting when our timezones crossed. The best and utterly worst thing about this was one of us was nearly always drunk and the other… wasn’t. I had a friend forward one of Ben’s tweets to me one morning saying “Think that’s about you?” Err… totally:

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I also let him follow my private twitter which is only for 22 very special individuals to hear my rants, anxieties, swearing and very knowledgeable facts about men, coffee and Melbourne. Oh and also whoever I’ve got a raging crush on at the moment. So yeah he read that too. Not too awkward at all. Hey, he was the one reading back to my December tweets not me:

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He was traveling with his brother by late January and I was still doing my best to keep his attention (March is still months away people) by insulting his brother’s Instagram for too many dead trees and not enough centering. But after a few days I felt I was overstepping some brotherly mark and should make peace with Little Groundy. Of course I’d named him this by now. (I still don’t think he likes it):

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Then the dead tree jokes got out of hand:

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So now his brother and I were on first name Instagram basis I could ask for Ben’s London address. To send a letter to silly – not to peep through his window. Stalk, stalk. What do you think I am?

Hearing Ben bang on about being the third wheel with the friends he was travelling with here and there I thought it would be nice and totally not creepy to send him a ‘non-valentine’s day’ card – You know the type you give on Valentine’s day but loudly declare it’s not a valentine’s day card? Nope, me either – but it’s a little less desperate than red hearts that scream ‘I have a mega crush on you’. Anyway, three wheels – get it? Yeah I hope he did too. Well he Instagrammed it. Double tap to like:

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Don’t worry by this point most of my friends were up to speed with the story or watching the horror unfold on Instagram and were fearing for my safety and man damaged head and heart; ‘WHAT?!’, ‘You’re crazy!!’, ‘Does he know you stalked him?!’, ‘Of course, because you’re Lorenza – only you do completely crazy things like this’. Were some of the nicer comments I received.

By now he was in Iran and communication was off and on. Sad face. We managed a Skype voice call of hearing each other say “hello, HELLO?!” 127 times in 18 minutes. Least we got that part down pat.

Our date was fast approaching and I was bored and owed him for some editing of my blog he’d done. He had requested a lion:

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Come March, even Dad was getting pretty excited:

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March 21st the weather was gale force, thunder stormed, Melbourne-esque and I was completely freaking out, having downed a hand wringing vodka soda at home, I walked up Bourke Street and spotted Ben Groundwater for the very first time with his huge lovely smile and he said “Hi, you look just like your photos.” and I blurted back “OH MY GOD! You’re a real person!”.

The end.

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2.3 And the Lotto numbers tonight are… five types of men I’ve dated.

A guy recently asked me if I “date” much and I immediately thought “No, not really…” But my answer came out more like, “Mmm in the last month I’ve been speed dating, had two friend set-ups and dated a guy I met at lawn bowls.” Then I thought “Oh you dating hussy!” So yeah, I date a lot. Give me a break – six years is a long time to be single. And the guys always seem to be the same. Here are the categories that they all powerball into, as I haven’t found that winning combination quite yet:

Mr Parents and Painful
This guy might live at home with the parents – which is fine, maybe he’s trying to pay off that Holden Astra by 2014 or get that smart phone app off the ground. But the thing about this guy is he’ll probably never do it. He’s got lots of ideas and plenty of talk but no real desire to be working in a job he enjoys or an actual ambition towards anything in life. I’ve seen tubby cats with more determination for finding dinner than this guy so it’s a big fat no from me.

Mr Friendly Neighbour
He’s nice, he’s funny and he’s nice and funny aaaand that’s it. He could be my best friend or brother – wait that didn’t sound right. He’s got a good job, he’s getting passes with a few credits for life but there’s no spark or romantic interest, and this is where I can’t be bothered poking around to see if there’s more. But hey, be sure to keep me on that funny email forward list till we both start dating other people.

Mr Stalk and Intimidate
He’s keen – way too keen. Does this guy even have hobbies other than me? He’s calling every night and sending enough messages to make me squeamish. He’s creepily noticed a dress from a year-old Facebook photo and he’s asking the mutual friends waaaay too many questions. Then he brings me flowers to brunch. Lovely! But it’s the icing on the creeper-cake mate, moving right along.

Mr Confusion Says
We’ve been on a few dates, I’m feverishly mounting up the tick boxes and can’t wait to see what else the holding yard’s got on offer then… it’s radio-iPhone-silence. Was it the smell of desperation? Is he dating four other colts at once or was he clearly not impressed with the Zara dressage I agonised over for hours? I’m confused as a losing Phar Lap and keep telling myself he had a funny looking mane anyway.

Mr Cool as FCUK
I don’t really know where the heck I stand with this guy – away so he can look at himself in the mirror, or closer so he can check his reflection in my sunglasses? What I was tipsily attracted to as “confidence” on a Friday night now seems more like arrogance on a stick. He’s not after a relationship and he’ll play me like a deck of girlfriends. If you keep a safe distance these ones are good for a laugh but if you play his fake-Gucci-glasses-game you’ll be chasing your tail like a damsel that’s possessed.

So why do I keep dating? Probably the same reason people play lotto their entire life with little chance of winning – it’s fun! Actually no, it’s exhilarating, and it’s taking a chance because you never know… one perfect-powerball-partner and I’m off.

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