I am finding it harder to sleep at night when your sides aren’t touching mine. When I can’t turn over to find the hairs on your chest, or the freckle in the pocket of your eye, or the mumbles living in your throat. I find it hard to leave the duvet every time you depart, because one half of our bed always smells of your body. I like my body when it is with your…
When I wake, I want to feel the hum of your snores on the soft of my chest. I want to feel the grip of your fingers around the loose of mine, the rough of your legs on the smooth of my legs, the breath in your cheeks on the sweat in the nape of my neck. I want the imprints of us to mar the mattress, because we’ve spent so much time together and so little apart.
It’s difficult to remember with clarity the time before I knew you. I lived in a foggy memory filled with ruffled feathers and empty nights. It was cold, I think, but I don’t remember - and I was scared, I remember. You were a presence in my mind and in my life and in my body before you were ever present. I stammered at myself in the mirror and rushed through a routine half an hour before I saw you for the first time. I felt sick on the train and sick outside the station and sick as I saw you, expecting something clever to come from me. It was the hardest introduction, saying hello to someone I already knew.
Nearly three months have been punctuated with red lipstick marks and cold hands and whiskey teeth and running through the rain and profound speeches and happy eyes and nail varnish and west and east and the back of cabs and Underground trains and airports and late nights and early, early mornings and laughter, so much laughter and love, so much love. ‘You’ll be my wife,’ you said. And you meant it. ‘I’ll make you,’ I said. And I meant it.
In our house, we would have wooden floors.
We would put rugs down because I would complain too much about too-cold feet. In the winter, you would buy me slippers but I would always wear your socks instead. In the summer, I would pull up the rugs and hang them outside. Even if we didn’t have a fire, we would always be warm.
I would paint our kitchen yellow, the same colour as the inside of a peach. I would never eat a peach, but kitchens should be yellow. In the evenings, I would research recipes I would probably never make, and I would bake too many cakes for two people in a yellow kitchen.
We would have one red room, because there should always be one red room. I would need to find a big wooden bookcase to loom over us, because I never have enough space for the books I have or would have or will have. We would start a collection of everything we have read or will read, and I would have a menagerie of bookends, all painted gold, like the ducks that hold up my cookbooks. I would need to find a lot of maps too, or maybe globes, because my whole life is lived in maps, all over the globe.
You could draw some pictures, so we could put something on the walls. I don’t think I will ever stop making collages of things. I saw a wall lined in flowers once; I would like a wall lined in flowers, I think. I would find a little set of antlers to hang above the mantle we would have in our living room, because I imagine us as having a mantle in our living room. I don’t imagine living rooms without mantles.
We would have a dog that would have a bed in every room. He would sit with me if you were away, and we would walk him every evening, even in the cold, even in the dark. I would want another, and you would stop sneezing, because dogs should come in twos.
I would keep too many things; I would keep everything. Ticket stubs from shows and cinema tickets from films we didn’t like and fortune cookie fortunes when we didn’t want to cook and dry rose petals from a long, long time ago. I would fall asleep on the couch a lot. I would have questionable taste in music, and movies, and prime time television. I would sing too much. I would smile enough.
In the summer, we would travel every place we have ever wanted to see. Athens and Austin and Tokyo and Tanzania and every corner of America that I could coherently show you. We would go to the sea, if only shortly, because I don’t like being away from a coast. I would take up travel writing while I held your hand on planes. I would want to be a novelist, again. We would do our jobs from any place in the world we liked, because we wouldn’t have to go to offices. We would live in maps, all over the globe.
In February, I would have you listen to Chet Baker and we would drink whiskey & water in June. You wouldn’t eat the sauerkraut I would make on every New Year’s Day, but we would stay up late on Christmas. We would never have balloons on birthdays, but we would always celebrate one another.
I would sleep better. I would talk more. In the winter, I wouldn’t feel so cold and the summers would feel warmer. January wouldn’t be sad and December wouldn’t feel like the end. I would get nostalgic, but so would you, and we wouldn’t feel so bad. I would always be happy, somehow. We would always be happy, I think.