My boyfriend and I have developed a sport: a debating game where we argue over pointless topics for no other reason than to (lovingly) taunt each other. “Who moved the thing that is now missing?” is a typical example.
Our most recent debate – whether or not I could join MI6 – is a tease about my newest cultural interest: blockbuster action movies about spies. I no longer crave my film staples (foreign language, low budget; anything where women have ample lines), instead devouring the very films I scorned. I am nourished by their racially dubious characterisations and samey storylines about a man who learns to love through his fists.
Indeed, many of my tastes have changed. I can no longer connect with any song written in the last five years, and the realist books I tended towards now seem unreal and possibly irrelevant. Perhaps I long for simpler escapes, of good guys versus bad. Or maybe such artefacts of the recent past are too painful a reminder of before?
But the truth is I no longer pine for “before”. Sundays in the pub, Thursdays at the theatre – my previously favoured pastimes now provoke fear and disgust. I wonder: when the new normal becomes old, will the old, normal me return? As people talk about “going back”, I’m not sure I can.
Only time will tell. In the meantime, I am enjoying my new appetites. And if I do need to revamp my life, well there’s the option of international espionage. Yes, I’m a chronic oversharer who hates war and surveillance, but, as the movies have taught me, that would only make me a better spy: hidden in plain sight. No one would ever suspect the journalist, or the columnist who wrote about it, would they?