I guess love is when I’m super cranky because I’ve got my period, and I’m sitting on the bed when you get home from work and even though I’m so relieved to see you, I scowl at you and complain that my belly hurts. I won’t cuddle you when you come and sit on the edge of the bed, even though all I really want to do is crawl inside you and wear your skin as a coat and your guts as a scarf, because love is gross and creepy like that. I have my period and my tummy hurts and I love you so much I want to slap you in the face.
I’ll grunt at you instead of answering your questions and I’ll be relieved when you leave the room and shut the door behind you, because I love you so much, and you should never have to receive me when I’m like this. When I’m like this I should be shackled to a wall and fed gruel that’s been slopped on the ground in front of me, and my hands should be tied behind my back so that I have to lap it up from the dirty floor with my tongue.
I guess love is when you come back, 15 minutes later, and you’ve been down to the off license and bought me my favorite biscuits, you know, the Weston’s Digestives with the chocolate on one side, even though it’s cold in the street and we’re poor and have no money to pay our rent. The way you come back to me, with the packet of biscuits in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, the way you come so silently and put these things next to me, the way you walk across the room without even displacing the air you’re moving through, makes me ashamed that you have to love someone that can be such a horrible little troll.
But still, I love you so much I am too embarrassed to apologise, and I continue to sit there with my arms crossed and my bottom lip out. I won’t even turn my head to face you, but I can see the biscuits laying on the bed between us, as you take up your position next to me, leaning against the brick wall because I’ve got all the pillows and I’m too stubborn and surly to take one. I think I love you more as we sit there, me obstinate and you so calm, a ringmaster waltzing boldly into a lion’s den.
And then without warning, my eyes lap with waves and I’m ready to look at you and say I’m sorry for being such a brat, it’s just that I feel so horrible, and I hate it here sometimes, in this tiny mouse infested apartment, their little droppings sometimes between the sheets of our mattress that lives on the floor. I hate that my tummy hurts, I hate that we don’t have a living room in our flat, that we can’t afford to go to a restaurant. I hate everything as much as I love you.
So you squeeze my hand and you say, I know, and you say we can just watch Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend and you’ll bitch about all the contestants with me and even pretend like you care. I start to cry because you are the best, and I tell you I didn’t mean it, that I love our tiny mouse infested apartment, I love it here, I love it here with you and did I mention that I love you? You say we’re going to miss the start of the program and you smile at me.
We watch Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend and you have an opinion on everything, and we complain about all the contestants like they’re friends we dislike and we’re driving back from a dinner party we just had with them, and we eat the whole packet of biscuits and drink tea until my tummy doesn’t hurt anymore and we’re holding hands. When the show is over, we go to the bathroom together and brush our teeth standing side by side in front of the mirror, like we do every night since we moved here. You poke me with the frothy tip of your brush, I pretend like I think it’s gross because I know you think the face I pull when I do that is cute, and then we have an argument about whether or not we can cross swords and you swear if I sit on the toilet you can aim your wee so it gets right between my legs and none will go on me. And like every night before, and every night after, we don’t cross swords.
Before we go to bed you lay on your tummy with your shirt off and I lay on your back squeezing your blackheads, and we talk about what happened today at work. So I guess love is when we eventually lay together in the darkness, and have our ten minutes of cuddles, then both roll to our own side of the bed because neither of us can sleep while cuddling unless we’re drunk or sad and right now we’re sober and happy. You touch your big toe against mine under the sheets and we fall asleep just like this; far enough apart to fall into dreams, but pressing together regardless.