EVEN when you’re a total legend like myself, it’s hard work convincing strangers that you’re worth knowing. I feel like I’m butting into people – a solitary little goat looking for conversation.
‘Hi’ I say to them, blocking their path at a party where I only know the host and he’s busy. ‘How are you? I’m Maeve, just moved to London.’
It’s a terrible opener, and the tinny need in my voice makes us both flinch.
More Maeve Higgins:
This is what happens when you move to a new place – you have to make new friends.
I go to things I don’t want to go to, and force myself to take off my coat and make small talk.
I am friendly and warm, so agreeable! The thought crosses my mind that I have the makings of a sociopath, all charm and flattery, but I realise I’m not a successful one and take some comfort in that fact.
It was my birthday yesterday. Can you believe I’m 24 already? Me neither.
Usually birthdays sneak up on me, or at least I act like they do. I pretend I don’t see them coming.
I remember thinking ‘Woah – I’m ten. Ten years old, and what have I achieved? I’ll never be nine again. Nine is gone. The best I can do is try and tell any nine year olds I meet not to waste one minute…’
This one though, I was ready for. I knew I’d be spending it away from family and friends. I guessed I’d be on my own. I know you won’t believe me but here is the truth – I was fine about it. In Ireland, I’d have sent around a needy email telling everyone they have to come to my house and pay me lots of attention. That’s what friends are for.
We would chat and dance and I’d make 1970s style snacks – cubes of cheese with glace cherries and a pickled onion, all in a row on a toothpick – tiny totem poles of irony. Except I don’t like them ironically, I genuinely like them.
Here in merry old England, I’ll tell you how I spent my birthday. I went for lunch in a great café, where I ate a salad that costs more than your jeans.
Granted, the jeans in question were on sale in Primark and have a rip in the inside leg that necessitates extra care going up bus steps. Then I went to the cinema. I spent the whole day on my own, quite happy.
The only time I felt weird about the fact that I spent my happy birthday alone was when I spoke to my mother on the phone and she asked me who I’d gone for lunch with.
I panicked, and said ‘Oh, there was a bunch of us. I don’t know, a big gang, you wouldn’t know them’.
It’s seems I’ve begun to lie to my mother about my popularity. I hope I grow out of this new phase by my next birthday.