The House that Crumbled
We argued about the dishes, the school run, the dirty socks. We fought about the sleepless nights and the food we wasted, the money we spent on unnecessary items and the unfinished decorating around the house.
For weeks and weeks we avoided each other … intentionally – you know to make a point.
Everything felt angry.
The angry way we sipped our coffee in the morning or the how we put on our shoes.
A thick fog surrounded us, encompassing our home. There was a heaviness that was weighing and wearing us down … we just couldn’t be bothered to struggle our way out.
Some evenings I would look at him in his chair, his eyebrows slightly lowered above his big eyes, his forehead crinkled as he concentrated. I would watch his trail of thoughts like an old-fashioned movie reel, like I’ve sneaked in on something I shouldn’t see.
He never showed me his emotions so I quite enjoyed piecing the clues together in my own investigation. He housed his thoughts and kept the door tightly shut. Those thoughts were safe in there away from the rest of the world - with only a few windows to look through. And I was always careful when looking through the glass. This was the only way I could get an insight into what he was thinking.
When we first met I had long messy hair, I wore unusual clothes and read books on philosophy. I drank too much and enjoyed the small dramas life handed to me - it was exciting to a girl in her 20’s. We drank in old pubs and took polaroid photos, we listened to quirky bands and had duvet days at the weekend. I felt so ‘new’ back then and my discoveries were frequent, I didn’t know much, but I felt like I did and the feeling was satisfying.
I get up from my lookout. I’ve been caught! The feeling is mutually uncomfortable. The night is bitterly cold. I wrap myself in the blanket we keep on our sofa, burying my head in a book. I’m not reading, just skimming the pages, touching the words that sound meaningful in hope that by touching them I’ll remember to use them one day. He’s looking down at his phone, his thumb swiping up and down so fast it feels as if his avoidance to talk is being challenged. He’s bursting inside with words so tangled he is too afraid to bring them up in case he makes a mess.
I want to scream so loud that my voice fills the space around me, but the only ears I want to hear my words … are his. The pitch is just for dramatic effect.
Occasionally we both sigh, our long breaths leaking out of our mouths with a deliberate attempt to attract the other’s attention. In the midst of our procrastination, exchanged eye contact is strained and longing.
I long for his arms around me.
I long for duvet day.
After our third date when the butterflies deep inside my stomach rested through intervals of confidence, I plucked up the courage to open up. Between sips of wine I gave him tiny pieces of me from across the table, he took each piece with caution and stored it somewhere in his mind. I drank a little more and forgot the rest.
It is bedtime now. The hours slip away so quickly. I decide break the silence in a last attempt at figuring us out.
I feel my heart in my mouth – dry and uncomfortable.
‘You don’t know me’
‘We are strangers under the same roof’
I keep talking. The flow is constant, direct and cutting in parts.
Before I deliver words I can’t retrieve or smooth over, he speaks.
The sound of his voice stops me promptly, I stand ready and hoping he is opening the door that’s been closed for so long. The door to his thoughts, the one I have wondered about.
With the calmest of voices he repeats the things I told him on that third date, the one when I drank too much. The detail was so precise that I was taken back. He remembered exactly, memories kept so perfectly intact like he’d been nurturing them all this time.
My face starts to relax as I feel tears fall freely down my face.
He knew me all along … every - single - thing.
The third date ended with clumsy kissing and neon lights. I didn’t think about a future although perhaps I had secretly painted it in my mind. I put the polaroid picture I had taken and placed it inside one of my books so I could rediscover it during a reading session. I knew nothing except for in this feeling I had found meaning.
I can’t quite remember the details of our fight … I think it was something to do with a mess that went far beyond the dirty dishes. But when I stopped trying to find meaning, I accepted the challenges that we face as parents. I understand how easy it is to forget the bits that happened before we had little people to share our love with. Duvet days are quite different with two children who want to share your bed, but this tiny portion of our life will become another memory we will unravel at a later time and look fondly back on.
With this new adjustment I feel ‘new’ again – there is meaning in that.