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  • Writer's pictureSophie Lou Wilson

Inbetween Days

Updated: Feb 12

On love, trains and waiting for winter to end


Just wait until summer is what they keep saying. Someone tells me how, when he lived in a house that led up from the sea, his front door blew off in the wind and his housemates had to guard it in shifts throughout the night. You can tell who the tourists are because they hold umbrellas that get blown inside out. Sometimes the waves spiral up into the sky. Naively, I thought that those who live in Brighton all year round would have found ways to love it in the winter. There is something romantic about the shuttered ice cream stalls, coastal storms and empty fun fair rides, but most of the time I’m just waiting for summer too. 



I’m used to waiting. Mostly I wait in train stations, joining the collective sigh of tired commuters who shake their heads and roll their eyes. I spend hours on delayed trains between London and Brighton, memorising the order of towns I’ll never visit. I’m neither here nor there, but in a third inbetween place that is both liberating and lonely. I walk down to the sea most days. I always know which way north is now. I’m listening to podcasts about sea witches. I’m still waiting for the words to flow. I’m waiting to be kind. 


Years ago, I came here another time when I was waiting. I got the bus down to Brighton after my last exam. It was the summer before I fell in love, but I didn’t know that yet. We drank wine on the beach and there was so much future. Would we be friends forever? Would our dreams come true? These were questions for the tarot reader we would never visit. Afterwards, we rode the coach back sharing a pair of earphones. It was the last day we really spent together before we moved to different unis and stopped talking. 


I still think about that day when I walk down to the pier. When the sun bothers coming out, I try to rush out to watch the sunset. On bright days, the whole city is drenched in a surreal orange glow. I’ve started enjoying sunsets and flowers, things I used to think were so stupid in their conventional, romantic femininity, but maybe I was just too depressed to appreciate uncomplicated beauty. 



What’s the reward for waiting? In lockdown, it was tempting to believe that our dream lives lay at the end of covid restrictions. That all the waiting would be worth it. In many ways, my life was a dream at first, but everything feels like a dream when you move somewhere new in the middle of summer. Everything feels like a dream once it’s in the past. Like love, loneliness shifts form, but it never disappears. 


Recently I went to a poetry night with Indra where women made sad, heteronormative jokes about being single. They talked about ready meals for one and falling asleep alone on the sofa and I wondered if they’d ever actually been single or if they’d only ever watched cliched rom-coms with misogynistic undertones. I stood at the back of the room rolling my eyes and drinking, but when I walked home in the rain there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might start sounding like that soon.


A few months earlier, when I still lived in London, I was getting post-pub takeaway with a friend, and we were talking about relationships. “It’s different for you,” she said. “You’ve got your job.” I wanted to scream, “Why can’t I have both?” but I have learnt how to make all my want so small. I’ve learnt to be patient and busy and chill. I've learnt how to wait. On a night out recently, another friend looked me in the eyes and told me she wanted love. I wished I could be so honest.


In Hoxton, we laughed about children over pints of Guinness. You told me your sister’s having a daughter. I never wanted that life anyway, but for days afterwards, I had a lump in my throat. I couldn't help thinking how, if love isn’t enough, then what is? Most of the time, romantics are just sad and pathetic, especially when they’re women. All I can do is split myself between the girl who goes for walks along the sea and the one who goes to industry events in London.  


These are the inbetween days. Between winter and summer. Between London and Brighton. Between an old life and a new one. I'm not always sure what I'm waiting for. For summer, for love, for change. The sun will come, like it always does, and we will wonder how we were ever this cold. We will feel the sea against our skin, have picnics on the beach, be hot, happy, arrogant, delusional. We'll pretend to sit inside Brighton postcards sipping cocktails from cans. One day there will be love. One day the train will come on time. That's the only way it can be.

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