My current boyfriend is the first guy I’d dated in years, and a total surprise to friends who’d believed I was a lesbian when I told them. I liked how feminine he was, and how in touch with his feelings he appeared to be. I loved that we were both writers, and that we were both terribly, terribly self-absorbed. But you become fatigued when you date someone so much like yourself in every way bar physically.
Yet we have our irreconcilable differences: he wasn’t really the kind of writer I was looking for, anyway. He wrote, yes, but sporadically and mostly album reviews. He cared about my feelings, but only when he knew he was losing me. He liked watching TV more than anyone I had ever met.
But he’s not the only one at fault. I’m projecting when I tell him to control his temper, hypocritical when I fault him for stealing MY avocado, and downright nasty when I announce to the whole restaurant that he can suck his own dick from now on, thank you very much. We are unhappy together, but we don’t like the alternative: no one to help feed the cats, an empty space next to your pillow and no faithful best friend, who forgives you even when you’re at your worst. A toxic relationship is far more preferable than loneliness.
Maybe that’s why I kissed back my boyfriend’s sister’s best friend – to escape the monotony of what would otherwise be a marriage minus the formalities. A prison surrounded by an emotional force field. I enjoyed the softness of her lips, the smell of her shampoo, and her lack of neediness irrespective of an inflamed eyeball. I expected to feel guilt, to feel lust howling within me like a delighted little banshee. And I do, for at least a week after, as I stalk her via social media, ask mutual acquaintances about her sexuality and personality. I want to know her, to see her again, and finally that old feeling becomes an echo amidst the minutiae of everyday life.
What I also find is the gift of renewed compassion and appreciation for my boyfriend. When she doesn’t respond to my texts, I’m haunted by the specter of one-night-stands since past. If you give in to your lust, they get bored. If you don’t, they get bored. It’s hard to win in love and lust when you’re single, and I remember that I am not. I abandon these feelings like a bad love affair that never even made it out of my imagination.
Whatever was happening with my sense of reason that night seemed to have been remedied by time. Maybe it was the pixie dust wearing off, or maybe it was the spatial distance between my day-to-day life and that of the other world of the music festival. But I soon began to stop thinking about her, stalking her and enquiring about her wellbeing. When I see her walking across the road in front of me, I don’t even say hello.
But I was all over my boyfriend. More than anything, a feeling of guilt muddled with cheeky hedonism saw me clutching at my boyfriend’s arm more tightly, caressing his head more often, and biting his ears just a bit harder.
I suggest to him that we go to camping music festivals more often. ‘They are such fun,’ I say.