I lay there, the morning sun pushing through the curtains, the air filled with perfume, birdsong breaks the silence, her breath heavy in sleep, her brown hair flows down her back. My head nestled in the feathers of our pillows and I reach across, the softness of her skin against my fingertips is all the salvation I needed, and the ghost of a smile crosses my face. My hand against her back is the most affection she gives to me, but I’m satisfied, or am I?
I stare, she’s still sleeping, and I think how lucky I am, but what is it that makes me lucky? the sleeping hours are the only escape from war. But still, like a lovesick child I yearn for some form of affection, confirmation that what we have is real, living proof that somewhere in that sleeping beauty that hides a beast is the memory of what love is, and could I love her more, that may draw the love out of her.
The reality is that like a drug, the more I loved, the more I needed to love to convince myself that what I had was real, but is it possible that love has been confused with lust?
The reality of loving her, or lusting her was a war in my own head, standing next to her I felt inferior, why is she here? why did she choose me? Despite obvious social differences, it may appear that aesthetics is the most important factor in the relationship. Would you love this person if they didn’t have the beauty, do you love the personality of this person, and does this person make you a better person for being with you? Do they respect you and all you stand for, but still you lie next to them, and smile because it is normal, it is the reality you create, a fool’s happiness at the expense of his own.
You remember the early days, the nights between the stars at 20 years old, the condensed windows of your second-hand car, the way she felt in your arms and the way electricity flowed through your body as she leaned against you, you remember the smell, the sound of her laughter, a photograph of her smile imprinted on your mind, but that memory is all you have of the smile.
The want of telling her what is, how you feel. you remember the pain of losing her because you didn’t tell her your feelings, only to be reunited 3 years later, was it fate? Or were we 2 lost souls sent to help each other in troubled times. The nights when I’d lost myself, and she rescued me, the nights when she’d lost herself, and I rescued her, the first time she fell into my arms, I stood like a rain-sodden child on a stormy night thwarted by lightning, her touch and everything about her infected me.
But slowly, gradually, the draw of 2 people, the winter nights toasting marshmallows over candles, the excitement of the early days, the adventure subsides and reality checks in, and we release our true selves upon each other, it’s the realization that apart from the physical attraction, there’s something missing, but we are so far in it that we can’t pull out now. We jump on the train and keep on going, after 4 weeks pregnant, 2 months engaged, 3 months a house, 1 year and 3 months married, 4 years a mortgage, 5 years pregnant …. What’s left? We’ve done all we can to function as a family unit, the smiles in the photographs mask the reality of life, the evenings spent apart on our phones, the resentment, the emotional distance between us, the same routine, the lust of one not reciprocated, always sending the first text, always buying the nicest cards, always giving the first hug, always initiating intimacy, always the one to place my hand on your knee as we drove, always the one to call to see how you are, always the one to say I love you.
We’d leave your mum’s and you’d hug her, and I’d wonder where you learned to hug like that, I’d walk with you to meet your friend at the pub, you’d leave me and hug her, but where was that hug from, and what did she do for your affection that I didn’t?
The perfect family is just for show, but you never even pretended, Facebook posts from lovestruck women declaring adoration for their man, the great father, their soulmate, their best friend, but I’ll settle for a 'happy birthday Jason x' because that’s an acknowledgment from you, because I don’t know my own self worth in your shadow.