Getting Better Every Day

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Baby Max Knight photograph by Elle Fallon Photography, ellefallon.co.uk

THEME: Sex, Love & Intimacy

***

by Melissa

Once I believed that when love came to me, (sing the Mamas and the Papas) It would come with rockets, bells and poetry…

I had this idea of love too. Exploding fireworks and dazzlement. That love would hit me like lightning transforms the sky as described in that cheesy film, Four Weddings and a Funeral: “Thunderbolt City.”

Perhaps it’s the media, or those pop songs that pine for the other and pull at our heart strings. Films that ramp up “get the girl” moments of frantic running towards airports or train stations just in the nick of time for a reunited kiss, when in real life, such acts of “courage” resemble desperation and usually end in tears. Don’t do it people. Trust me. Nobody is ever there at the gate, shoulders turning theatrically waiting for you to arrive. They’re on the plane sat happily browsing the film guide. They’re not at the train station platform with ears pricked for your clacking footsteps; they caught the 17:25 and got home early. They’re drinking beers with friends or reading books at the library or buying fish or any other of the insurmountable ways the object of desire is otherwise occupied.

Because it was one night. It was a brief affair. It was only ever going to be a short sequence of dates and no more. I know; I have been both the object of someone’s fierce desire and done the fierce desiring. I’ve spent hours internally scraping the flecks of chance that a relationship might be possible, dreamed up scenarios of mountain treks and moonlight and marriage and even took cross-Atlantic plane journeys until realising there are too many gaps being filled in with my own impressions.

And that is exactly why those short-lived experiences are the ones that stick to our hearts like congealed food on your housemate’s plate. They are potent because they are scarce of substance. That one piece of sex that felt like heaven and earth met and made this cataclysmic connection was probably the whiskey (and over-consumption of Sex and the City in formative years), which can overshadow the time when someone less Thunderbolt City comes along. This new thing can’t be love, too subtle: Where are the unicorns and trumpets?

but with me and you, it just started quietly and grew..

In the end, I got lucky. Somehow the positioning of the moon and the stars aligned enough for me to not be too suspicious (though I had my suspicions), and open enough (though I was pretty guarded) to allow a little teeny bit of love in to form a relationship with my fella. I mean love is pretty potent stuff and when someone falls for someone, it can be a hard thing to accept. To be loved is as much work as the loving. I would argue to be loved is harder than the loving, which is why people like me who have been hurt in the past or suffered abuse can often struggle with partners who only want the best for them. That’s scary whereas unfulfilling one-sided relationships feel oddly safe – there is a certainty that comes with dating a douchbag, deep deep down you know they don’t deserve you, and it should end in tears. But how scary is dating a nice guy with the same risk the relationship could end? Imagine letting a good one slip?

I used to say to my boyfriend that if we broke up, I’d be doomed as he is such a nice guy, I’d not know where to start hating him. Now I say, if we broke up, I’d be truly heartbroken. He’d be just the bugger to do a textbook divorce of amicable friendly negotiation with both of our best interests in mind. When I talk like this, he always replies, “well, let’s stay together then”.

And it’s getting better… (Rises the chorus). Growing stronger, warm and wilder. Getting better everyday, better everyday.

We didn’t break up. Not only haven’t we split, something else is happening. It’s getting better. Just like a computer game has levels, so too, does this love thing. Although the loving part gets easier, life has its challenges (house prices, job insecurities, blah). The longer we complete our levels and tackle our bosses, and remain curled up on the sofa with a bottle of wine, the thunderbolt city stuff plays out more like a long hazy summer’s day. It’s so comfortable, so pleasant, and not a moment passes when I don’t think: wow, how did this happen?

And it’s not hard to see that it isn’t half of what it’s going to turn out to be…

Waiting for the thunderbolts at the beginning took away some of that realisation that it was the real deal with a big L. I was always so happy when around him. I had so many pure moments of feeling elated. But my imagined view of love and the reality were different so I also questioned everything and doubted.  Seven years on, and I am still happy. I know myself more. I know the world more. We know each other more and it’s getting better.

Instead of balcony climbing (Romeo to Juliet) or arriving at my door with some A3 card and smoochy stuff written on it (that awful film Love Actually – seriously people, don’t watch it), it was him being by my side when I needed an operation for internal bleeding, listening to me (constantly) pontificate about where my career is going, supporting my wish to be a writer and not going for full-time paid employment, reading my novels on his days off from work…

And now we’ve had a baby and the love shifts once more. We haven’t slept properly in 12 weeks. We managed one date but nearly fell asleep in the noodles. We’ve settled for dinner at home by candlelight. Our lazy mornings being into each other are replaced with looking down at our baby as he spews and farts and giggles and then up at each other that we could produce such a wonderment.

And I don’t mind waitin’, don’t mind waitin’…

Now we’re in it for the long haul. Connected forever, whatever, through this little boy. Who knows where that will take us.

Funnily enough, the same happened with my baby. I didn’t push him out and immediately envisage cherubs trumpeting around us. I was happy. I was also apprehensive we would not bond. I worried in case I just gave birth the next Dick Cheney. I still wonder if he will share his toys, be kind to other children. I worried that I hadn’t “fallen in love at first sight”. But day-by-day, I felt my heart crack open a little further the longer we hung out together. I was slowly falling in love.

And now, three months in, I’m in love. Overwhelmed. Overcome. This baby has brought the morning to me in a way I had mislaid but never lost. A pure endless beauty, of a world reborn, of a place of innocence where happiness resides. He has given me the beauty of the world back and its Hope, which I lost in a string of Facebook links about the violence and conflict of other men’s wars and the activities of a vicious media run by people who seemingly want to engineer division between us.

I’m pulled back to the core of things. To essence. To watching him making each breath, from seeing the oxygen taken from him and his lungs doing it alone. To counting the numerous needle pricks on his hands and feet for blood samples and his eyes not shedding a single tear. The IV drip taken away. The tube removed from his stomach. And I couldn’t do a thing to help him while he incubated under UV lights then relapsed then incubated some more. All I could do was stand there amazed at his fight; his quiet unquestioning demand to live. In awe. In love.

So at the grand age of 32, I have learnt something about myself. For all my loudness and showy personality, for all that jumping on tables in bars and throwing my underwear to musicians at gigs, I’m a reserved lover. I take my time to get to know you, before I love you, whether an innocent baby or a hot biscuit German. But once we’re in love, I’m on it hook, line and sinker, deeper by day and deeper. And it just keeps on getting better.

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