Single, alone, I-phone, join tinder. Sign up for the swipe left swipe right, anything to not be alone at night-club.
Enjoy the game, its fun for a while, matching, talking, getting attention, feigning interest, flirting, ignoring all my actual interests on the most part, denying my political life in the hope of a date. FIND ONE! Drink? Sure, Where? Pub? Original… why not, Tonight? Great! Get home, shower, feel awful, anxiety flaring, everything looks awful, too loud, too bright, will stand out way to much, more subdued, more quiet, don’t want him to think I’ll cause a riot… something trendy, something young! I want him to know I’m so much fun! Put on staple outfit, it’s generally black, vamp it out with make up. Fierce shoes, I mean I don’t want to be totally invisible…. Coat, try on three, pick first one and head out. Walk to pub. I’m there first, order drink, don’t wait, and sit, debate, whether to smoke cigarette, it’s so unladylike these days, remember I don’t have any plans to quit and smoke anyway. He arrives, later, held up, no worries, I can be chilled too. Sits down, talks, we talk, we laugh we have another, I think you’re cute, I look you in the eyes. I speak honestly to you and you like it, you think my fearlessness is sexy and you imagine me naked. I tell you you’re interesting, you like that a lot, I tell you about myself unapologetically and you like that too. I talk about my life, my travel, my beliefs, things I find important, things I find unimportant, we talk about our energy for life, our shared beliefs and distains at awful things in the world. I have to go, I have an audition tomorrow. You like that. I’ve given you my number, you say goodbye and kiss me on the cheek. I like that a lot. And you text me straight away as soon as I’m on the bus asking for the next date.
I like your energy, I like the way you talk about strong women, I like the way I don’t feel like I have to hide my strength in front of you, I like the way my bravery turns you on. We talk all week, we book the next date. And the next one, until on one of them we eventually drink wine until we can’t keep our hands to ourselves and we rip each-others clothes off. I stay at yours, I prefer that too, I’m nervous about inviting people into my space, I like to remain a surprise, I don’t want you to see my mess just yet. Your room is clean, you seem like an adult, we stay up all night sweating and fucking and holding and laughing and touching unable to keep our hands off each-other. Your flat-mates hate me but I don’t care. We manage to have sex and look each-other in the eyes the first time. That feels good. We taste each-others chemistry and it makes us hungry for more, this is chemical and wonderful and a little bit consuming. We wake up, foggy, still laughing, and spend the day together. I expect you to send me home, but instead you get me a towel and lend me a t-shirt and we go for breakfast….well, by the time we get out of the house….lunch….well early dinner really….
We spend the next few weeks laughing and rolling and drinking and smoking and listening to music and loving the world and agreeing on the bits we hate, I am overwhelmed. You are overwhelmed. You make me cum and I don’t even have to ask, you do it because you want to and I feel like a drug to you. This is us, for the first 3 months, I feel a bond building and I know you do too, you like the way that I’m different and I refuse to blend into the background. You like that I buy second hand clothes as a political statement. You like that I complain about train fare and the rising impression of capitalism, and that I watch documentaries and cry because I can’t change the world faster. You stroke my hair and tell me I’m brave and important, and that one day I’ll look back and feel proud I gave myself to what I believe in. I look at you glass eyed and tell you I want you to be mine. You kiss me and undress me, and we stay in for two days. You make me coffee, and I make us the occasional meal and we make my house our kingdom. This is us for 6 months. Happy, together, still light and walking on clouds, we meet each-others friends and they are glad to see us happy, we’re happy to be happy, we meet each-others parents. I’m nervous for you to meet mine, there’s history and its difficult and I can’t hide my petulance when I’m around them, they love you, they think you’re great, they see you’re unafraid to take care of me, and more importantly that I let you. We settle into ourselves, and accept ourselves in a relationship, in relation to each-other. You stay at mine more, I initially thought it was sweet, because you wanted to make it easier for me, until weeks and then months later I start to notice I’m doing both of our laundry, and making all of the food. I don’t mind, you do other things for me too, you pick up some milk, and sort out the television cable, it’s give and take I guess…..
This is us, 9 months, in our routines, me frantic and troubled, you un-phased. I come home and cry because I’m not getting auditions, and I’m getting trolled on twitter. I come home and cry because I spent another day being demeaned in my job, or I was heckled and it made me uncomfortable. You say ‘oh no’ and put the television on. I walk into my room, painfully awake and feeling electric with rage and isolation. I get in the shower so you won’t hear me cry sort myself out and join you for another night on the sofa. The anger spurs me on, and the work starts coming in, I work harder to prove them all wrong, and join online campaigns to show my support for a world with more justice. You call me and ask me if I prefer broccoli or cauliflower, I tell you I couldn’t care less, you’re angry at me and go out instead. I stay at home, drown in my laptop, waiting for sleep to snatch my anxiety away.
I start working more, and it takes me away, when I’m back your excitement to see me turns into distain as I disturb your routine and regale you with stories of adventures you weren’t there for. You don’t show interest, you don’t even pretend to show interest, I wonder where you’ve gone, I wonder where the person who didn’t hide from me went. I wonder who’s who, who’s you, and what you see in me too. I return home, and we climb into bed, this time me first as you spend your evening alone on the sofa, I’m tired, and wake early, and leave you behind. You’d rather sleep than join me so I make plans without you and let you escape. It’s the weekend, first one together for a while, were both working, both tired, I hope that I’ll see you, that you’ll surprise me with a bottle of wine, and we’ll sit and listen to music like we used to and feel rebellious like teenagers because we still have to get up on a Saturday. I don’t, you go out, I stay in and read or write or hide in my songs and wait for tomorrow to find out what’s wrong.
This is us. 12 months. Me confused, hoping it’s a phase. Standing on my own two feet and finding it very lonely. You become confused that I don’t need you, but I never needed you. I don’t need you. I want you. And wanting is different to need. I start to drift away, and plan a life without you, you watch me leaving and realize what it means. You tell me you’re sorry, that you’re just not happy at work, and that it’s hard to see me happy when you’re not. I’m grateful that you talk, and we stay up naked coming, holding, crying, laughing like we did before and I feel that I understand you better. I go away again but this time its different, you call me and even plan to meet me in Paris, I’m thrilled, and you actually do, you meet all my friends for work and watch my shows and hold my hand over dinner and tell me how proud you are. I tell you how much I love to hear that, not because I need it, but because I want it. Because your approval means something to me. You smile weakly and we eat crème brullees and drink wine and then just sleep. Sure Paris is romantic, but you ate too much and you’re tired. You go home and I finish my work and join you a week later, you have another job so you work more and you’re tired, I like your energy, that you’ve found something to do, and I’m happy for you. We look for places to live together, well, I look for places for us to live together, you’re too tired, or busy, or hungover so I find it, sign it, get the movers and hand you a key. I make it like home, in the time that I’m there, I relish in decorating and finding plates in green, your favourite colour, and make sure the kitchen is full of fun gadgets for us to use. It’s something to do, as I hand weave our life’s fantasy. Just as we move I get another job, this time a big one, a contract, fully paid. I’ll be working away for a month, and you are just fine about it. I pack up and go, and it all feels too easy, you don’t seem to hurt when I walk away. I go, and I’m in the city and working, and playing and enjoying attention from men that look me in the eyes and tell me I’m interesting, and how sexy it is that I stand up for what I believe in…. a seed is planted.
Am I happy?
I come home, excited, you open the door, give me a hug as your on your way out to meet friends, I don’t see you until the afternoon the next day. I work from home, tired, but skint, so I have no choice, I’m still working for free. You ask me how work is, when I come home from my ‘paid’ job, you’ve lost interest in everything else. The cracks have appeared and I tell you I’m frustrated. I tell you that I don’t feel supported, that I think that i’m wrong for you, you say you’re confused and that you don’t know where its come from, and that a relationship is a marathon not a sprint. I listen, and blame myself for working too hard and not understanding, for wanting too much, for being hyperactive, for expecting too much. I tell you I’m sorry and make you your dinner, you go to sleep with a full belly and a smile. I stop working from home when your there, I wait for you to go out, so I have the headspace to think, I stop talking about my work at home, and It makes me bored, so bored until one day I explode and book a holiday and come back a week later with a clearer vision. I tell you that you knew when you met me what I stood for and what I believed in, that you used to be proud of that and show me off to your friends, and that somewhere along the line you have found yourself competing in our relationship, and have left me to do far too much of the work. I can’t cook, clean, find a house and fight for myself. I tell you how important balance and equality is to me, and I need to feel as important to you as your friends, I tell you that it isn’t fair that I spend half my time away and when I’m here you pretend like I’m not, I tell you that my work is hard sometimes, that I try to fight for those that can’t and put my effort into social change, and that sometimes Its nice for that to be recognized by the people I love. You tell me I’m right and that your sorry and you don’t mean it. I make a promise to myself to not compromise anymore and to let you do some of the work.
This is us. Two years later, through our hurdles. And I’m pregnant. I’m terrified, I don’t know how a baby is going to fit into my life. I imagine in all the scenarios that I would have to deal with it all and you would just help where you could. I imagine the baby takes up our lives and I won’t be able to concentrate on my work, I panic, and you tell me its fine. You say if it comes to it, you’ll quit your job so that I can work. I love the idea. It fills me with hope. 9 months later, I’m exhausted and want it out, I give birth to a beautiful baby girl, I promise her the world will be better when she’s my age. We give her an Isreali name, Rivkah, in honor of a cultural lineage in my family that’s slowly dying. I throw myself into early motherhood, and demand that you also have maternity leave to help me. We share getting up in the night, we take it in turns. Sometimes you try to pretend like its my turn again, but I remember the promise I made to myself about compromising too much and refuse to sleep until you do it. Eventually you become accustomed, and after 9 months I start to feel like I have more time to give to my work again. You go part time, so you can share the duties. I’m not breastfeeding anymore, which means that we can both equally split the time. You grow accustomed to the suspicious looks of strangers as they look at you, alone, carrying a baby? I enjoy when you tell me these stories. This is us, 4 years together, A child. Living together. Where did the time go. Eventually you buy a ring and get down on one knee. I drop to one knee as well when you ask me, and ask you back, so it feels like we’ve both done it. A part of me is annoyed it isn’t a February leap year, but I’m overjoyed anyway. We say yes. And we plan a wedding. I tell you straight away that I’m not doing it all and if that means just doing it with 3 people there because we don’t have time to organize it then that’s fine by me but my mother won’t be happy. We set the date for a year down the line, leaving plenty of time. I hate the ordeal. It feels dramatic and silly. I say a field and a ceremony, who cares if it’s raining. The only thing I demand is good music and good wine, the essential ingredients for having a good time. I debate wearing jeans, like I did to my prom. But then I decide to stop pretending I don’t like dresses and pick one. Obviously not white. I was never allowed to wear it as a child so I don’t know why I should start now. Instead peach, one of my favourite colours and my favourite fruits, I drink peach bellinis to match my dress and kiss my child who is draped around her grandmothers neck for the whole day so I don’t have to worry. We stand in front of an audience of few. Small and selected. They are all invited to the party later, but the vows are more private, for those that will understand truly what it means for us, to marry. I say my vows, that I wrote. I tell you how I’m in awe of you. Of how I don’t know how you can put up with me, and I know that you’ve changed and I knows it’s been hard but I see you, and I see me in you and us together team. I speak too much and end by saying my favourite thing about you
‘Sometimes, it isn’t about the things you do say, but the things you don’t need to’
There’s a tear in your eye and you chose not to hide it which makes me love you more. When it’s your turn you don’t say much. Just that you would follow me always. Wherever I wanted, because above all things you believe in me. I cry, no I don’t I nearly weep. I think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. We kiss and cry and hold each-other for the first time in front of our nearest and dearest, they do the same, my mum the most as she honestly thought this day would never come. The day carries on, and its beautiful, we drink and laugh, and don’t worry at all, we take it in turns to look after our child, and then she goes with her grandma so we can stay with our friends. You don’t leave my side. You look at me like you did on our first date, with wonder. And I look at you the same. We remember how lucky we are.
The day ends, we go on holiday, to a campsite you hate hot weather and I enjoy an easy life. We come home, to our house and our baby, and carry on with our lives. We take It in turns. With everything. Everyday. You make breakfast I make dinner, swap. Wake up at night until she sleeps through. You work part time, then I work part time. Sometimes you hate me for it, sometimes I hate you for it, and most people hate us for it, how do they do it? He must really love her…. He must really be under the thumb. But your not. At all. You remember the tough times, when we both nearly walked away, and then we remember what our chemicals taste like and we know its right. The years go by. Our child is a teenager, she talks to you about periods and to me about her phone bill, she talks to me about sex and to you about recipe’s, she is not embarrassed and neither are you, neither are we, our stereotype-less family. She goes to university to study engineering. We are proud and secretly (not so secretly) looking forward to time to ourselves again. I can work on my second book, and direct my 7th play, finally get round to that consultancy work I said I’d do for the RSC. I teach women’s studies and get invited to conferences. You own your own business, I leave you to it. We are building a house together. Literally. Building. I lift stones and you lift stones, you paint walls, and I do the plumbing, we are the same choosing where our skills fit us both.
We build the house in the south of France and when she finished university we move. We grow an allotment, and do all the same things except now in our own castle. Our own kingdom. We walk around naked like teenagers and remind the other that they’re not invisible. We are less strange here. Mainly because we are anonymous. I still travel for work, and you still crave your routine. The years have passed by and now we mostly relish our time together in quiet nights with select wine, and walking in the mountains near the house. As you wrinkle and get old, still malleable with age I remind myself of how grateful I was that I met you. Of how remember the change, and all that you gave to me. As I wrinkle and age, you think about how grateful you were that you met me, and what we have done for each-other. We grow old, in our kingdom, that we both built ourselves, with a child that we both raised either side. Everything split, two sides to a whole, that merged into one as we both grew old.
I wake up, and look to you. Another weekday. I’m tired, another night at being woken up in the middle of the night when you stumbled to bed. I move away from you. I look to you, I touch your shoulder, you don’t feel it. I don’t feel it. I ask myself if I’m ready for the battle. If it’s worth the work. If the effort of convincing you to be different is worth half my life, of how many of these little battles I will yield to before I realize I gave up too much. Too much energy, too much mind, too much love, And whether the journey is worth an outcome I’ll never know I’ll have, or I don’t know if I want. I lie for an hour, Thinking, Hoping somehow if I feel something hard enough you’ll hear it from my chest, understand and fix everything.
I get up, and leave you behind.