You wrote a song for me once, and sang it softly to me as I lay exhausted on the cigarette-burned, beer-stained, second-hand sofa in the damp and dank apartment that was all we could afford. You hated your dead end factory job with the foreman who treated you like shit and the hours that left you drained and irritable. I hated getting up at 4am to work the early shift in Sainsbury’s before trying to stay awake through a day of university lectures and then putting in a few hours of shelf-stacking before swaying wearily on the subway, my aching body wedged miserably between other unhappy commuters, as I journeyed home to cook a depressingly frugal dinner for us both. We ate in silence.
But on Friday nights, we’d smoke a joint and share a bottle of wine, my head on your lap and your fingers softly stroking my hair as we watched the wispy fingers of white smoke create a comforting cocoon around us, and listened to Pink Floyd and The Doors and talked dreamily about The Future. The places we’d go, the memories we’d make, the places we’d see. We knew we would grow old together, you and I. And you wrote a song for me for no reason other than to show me that you loved me, and when you sang it to me, nothing else mattered. I was in love with you, and you were in love with me, and we had nothing, and we had everything, and that was that.
You were chatting me up at the bar, but I was oblivious because I wasn’t used to being hit on. Men didn’t see me – or rather, they did, but they seemed to see me as one of the guys. I didn’t realise what you were doing with the frequent touches of your hand to my arm, my knee, my back. You pulled your bar stool close to mine as you told me about your hopes and dreams, and you clowned around to entertain me. You made me laugh with your stories, and drew me in with your questions. I was so lonely, that night. I was so tired of being invisible to the object of my unrequited desire, that you, the popular, scruffy guy with the bright blue eyes I’d never really noticed before, and the comical mannerisms, and the oddly charming accent – you were the cure I hadn’t realised I needed. You made me feel interesting, attractive, confident. You saw me, when he didn’t.
When you kissed me, I was taken completely by surprise. When you kissed me again, I was a goner. You were a pro at that game. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anyone the way you made me crave you. You were a drug I couldn’t quit.
You asked me to dance at the party, and I was giddy. We’d worked together for a year, and we were the Ross and Rachel of our workplace. A secret glance, a beer-induced confession to a mutual friend, a friendly hug that lasted just a second longer than it should have, an unexpectedly passionate argument, a sudden thrill as our hands accidentally brushed together, an awkward silence following a moment of possibility. You took me for a ride on your motorbike alongside the river one evening, and I pressed my cheek against your leather jacket as I held on to you more tightly than I needed to.
Then you shyly asked me to dance, it was some cheesy boy band song about everlasting love, and we slow-danced in front of our grinning friends, and I felt like my teenage heart would burst out of my chest and go flying around the dance floor on Cupid’s wings, and you kissed me, and we danced some more, and then you asked me to be your girlfriend, and I said yes, and you smiled, and I smiled, and life was just incredible. We went for a walk through the park on a sunny Saturday evening, because we were too broke to go to the movies, and we chatted nervously, not quite knowing how to make the transition from friends to more-than-friends, until you clumsily put your arm around my shoulders, and I started to laugh because it was just so strange and you were so unsure of yourself. So you laughed too, and we sat on the river bank in the long grass and shared fish and chips and threw sticks for your dog to fetch, I think his name was Jack, and we watched the sun set, and you kissed me goodnight in a way that let me know you’d been secretly wishing for this all along, too, and everything about it was perfect.
You wrote me email after email; beautifully crafted sentences wrapped themselves around me like a bear hug in sweaters on a cold day. Your words danced on the screen; a single sentence could make my heart skip a beat. Every story you told, every time you made me laugh out loud, every insight you gave me into your mind, your heart, your life… every email you sent was another push towards the edge of sense and reason, until eventually I was falling, and I fell, and I had fallen, and you were everything. You were my first thought when I woke up, and my last thought as I fell into a sleep filled with you, and most thoughts in between. I was smitten with you, and you with me. The “you’ve got mail” sound from my computer would make my pulse quicken and my heart race like a triple shot of espresso. I loved you, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you, and it was all there was, and it was all I was. I imagined the touch of your skin and the sound of your voice and the feeling of your breath against my ear, and then we were together, and it was real, and it was exactly as intoxicating as I had dreamed it would be.
You kissed me after dinner, as we walked from the restaurant to the bar where we would meet the others. It was December, and it was snowing heavily, the fluffy flakes glowing against the Christmas lights. We were walking hand in hand, still in the first flush of new love, one of the sickeningly happy couples that make people go “awwww!” or roll their eyes in disgust. You teased me when I slipped on a patch of ice, and I pouted, and you pulled me laughingly back from the crowds on the street and kissed me under a streetlamp, the snowflakes settling on our hair and turning our heavy black coats to powdery white, and I didn’t feel cold at all.
I would love to love you, but I can’t, because you’re not just you, you’re all of you. You with the song and the wine, and you with the smooth pick-up lines at the bar, and you with the motorbike and the dog, and you with the beautiful writing, and you with the kiss on the snowy night under the streetlamp. I would love to love you, if only you were one man. If you wrote me songs, and flirted with me, and watched sunsets by the river with your arms around me, and wrote me long letters, and kissed me in the falling snow, and didn’t care who could see us, and enchanted me with the stories you wrote for me, and asked me to dance to the slow songs, and made me laugh, and charmed me, and stroked my hair as I lay with my head on your lap… if you were one man, one man who did all those things, I would love to love you.
But you’ve only ever existed in parts, like a file being downloaded from a torrent site. A piece from here, a piece from there. That guy provides one snippet, some other guy sends another. You – you wrote me a song but you’ll never ask me to dance. You – you made me laugh and made me feel good, but you’ll never love me or hold me in your arms. You – you kissed me regardless of who could see, but you’ll never have deep, meaningful conversations with me. You – you wrote letters that captured my heart, but you’ll never make me feel confident and attractive. You – you gave me the delicious thrill of teenage romance, but you’ll never stay through the hard times of disillusionment and exhaustion.
I’ve only ever had pieces of you… but I would love to love you.