Mini-breaks are game changers. Literature (in the loosest sense of the word) and film both tell us so.
Take Lydia in Pride and Prejudice. It’s not Wickham & co. being stationed in Hertfordshire that causes problems here. Oh no. It’s when she goes to Brighton for a spot of seabathing (I may be paraphrasing) that it all goes dreadfully wrong. And how do Wickham and Lydia get punished for their flighty behaviour? They are, according to Mrs Bennett, “banished to the North.” The death of lust is spelt out by having to spend an indeterminate amount of time in one (fairly grim) place.
The same is true of two of the best rom-coms of all time. In Grease, Danny is all sweetness and romance with Sandy during summer vacation, but once they’re back at school? Yep, he’s a dick.
Dirty Dancing too, is a film about holiday romance. Why isn’t Dr Haussman particularly bothered by Johnny and Baby snogging on the dance floor at the end of the film? My theory is that it’s not just because Johnny wasn’t “the one who got Penny in trouble.” It’s because for all Johnny and Baby properly love each other (they do!), that love just doesn’t translate back into RL, and Dr Haussman knows it.
And finally, there’s Bridget, or more specifically, this bit in Bridget. Mini-breaks make or break relationships: Bridget’s friend Jude gets dumped by vile Richard for asking if he wants to come on a mini-break to Paris, and Bridget herself uses the mini-break as proof that ‘This can’t be just shagging. A mini–break means true love.’
Sadly, Bridget’s wrong. Since summer last year, I’ve been on three ‘mini-breaks’ to see the boy. All have been fun. Am I any closer to true love? Ha!
But things have changed. I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but I’ve never known quite where to take it. When the boy came home, tinged with sadness about the moment for leaving having arrived sooner than he might have wanted it to, it stirred something in me, too. I read his tweets and blog posts and remembered how it felt to leave a country that you weren’t done with discovering, to be pulled away from somewhere that you were just beginning to fall in love with. But it wasn’t about me: this was his year abroad, his chance to fall for a new city, his regret at handing back his keys …
Before he left the UK last year, I was convinced we were over. I sat in a pub in London and toyed with a glass of wine, while we thrashed out whether to call it quits or to aim to keep in touch. My desire to keep him in my life was strong, but my faith in actually being able to do that was weak.
For the most part, it worked out well. Yes, we fought. Yes, there were times when what I wanted was to be fucked, and y’know, text messages just didn’t quite cut it. But before he went away, he wasn’t even a friend with benefits, he was just the guy I fucked on a more or less regular basis.
Visiting him for mini-breaks, I feel like I’ve actually had the chance to get to know him. We’ve sat in bars and restaurants and talked about everything from BDSM to the geography of the world. I’ve wandered round the old town while he’s at work only for the icy temperatures to force me back to my hotel room, curled up in the massive bed with a good book, waiting for him to rock up with a bottle of wine, a filthy smile and a semi. We’ve done wine bars, pierogi, vodka shots. He feels more real to me now than he did before.
Where do we take that, now? How will that fit in with the freneticness of London life, the realities of two full diaries? I wish I knew.
Funnily enough, there’s an advert that seems to pursue me everywhere I go at the moment. There are posters up and down the escalators on the tube, it appears in the side bar every time I visit the SkyNews website. It says:
POLSKA. SPRING INTO NEW.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think the Polish tourist board have done a great job on that one. I have no idea what it means. That said, we have kind of sprung into new, he and I.
It’s a good thing, right?