“You smile more than you think you do.”
The context is lost, but J’s words still echo in my mind. It’s amazing that anything echoes in my mind, as it often feels like my thoughts and memories are arranged like stacks of books, magazines and loose pieces of paper in an endless, dusty room. My mind is full and cluttered, nothing is as it should be.
J usually sees me smile, but he’s also the one trying to make me smile as well. I wish I could sit here and say that he made me smile by giving me flowers, or being more personal and thoughtful by stopping by my favorite bakery and getting me a chocolate cornet. Alas, I’m still not his girlfriend, not that I know if he’d do such things even if I was. No, he does other things to make me smile.
I had to work a day shift on Thanksgiving, from 9 in the morning until 5:30. It was one of the slowest shifts I’ve had to work, and I hoped they would send some of us home sooner than they did. Well, I managed to be released around 5:05, and when I got home, the house feast was ready to be served. So, I had to ask… did they wait for me? Did they time everything to be ready at about the time I’d be getting home? One answer was no, that it just happened that way, and another answer was that yes, they did anticipate me having to work my full shift so I’d be walking in on all the food ready to be served. I was beside myself, because I really didn’t mind grabbing leftovers and fixing a plate of food for myself. I am just one person, and barely important enough for a whole feast to revolve around my schedule.
I felt humbled, because I hadn’t been able to help prepare any of the food (except my apple pie, which is a long story in itself for a homemade pie bought as part of a fundraiser), so I helped put away the food once everyone was done eating for the evening. The turkey was cooked in an aluminum foil pan, which I tossed out with the majority of the skeletal remains once we had picked off most of the meat. Honestly, I could have spent more time and gotten more meat off the bones, but I was trying to make short work of it. Anyway, I feared for the trash bag, thinking it would rip from the bones and the bent foil pan. I said to J that I needed assistance pulling the trash bag, but since I didn’t specifically ask for his help, he didn’t help me with the bag, and that conversation snowballed into an argument.
I was already telling myself that I needed to stop loving him, i needed to stop having this silly infatuation, that nothing would ever come of this. I can’t even compete with his ex, who stopped by before i got out of work and gave him some tres leches cake that she made, which seems to be one of his favorite foods. Now we’ve had another petty argument, making my chances that much slimmer that anything good might come of any of this.
Forget the evening cuddle session before bed. Since we fought, I wasn’t feeling amorous. I did need to take a shower, and the song “Im Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” was stuck in my head while I did so, or at least that one lyric repeated in my mind.
Before I started the shower, I texted him the picture I took of the slip of paper I wrote on at work, listing what I was thankful for this year. As it’s posted on a board at work, I took the picture of my entry so I could keep it, and I figured I would need it for this day but I didn’t know it would come to this. In my mind, I was trying to say, “I was thankful for you, but you just pissed me off.”
“You forgot to say…” was his reply, adding a few things that went along with the argument we just had. Oh really? At that point, I simply apologized for saying nice, positive things about him. After that, since I stepped out of the shower to respond, I stepped back into the shower and finished what I was doing.
“Good. How dare you.” I didn’t read that angrily, when I first read that. I read it in his smiling, sarcastic voice when he usually says “how dare you.” It confused me, because I was actually regretting that I had even had a positive thing to say about him, and to post it in a public space.
“I’m thankful for you too. Usually.” Why? Why did he have to say that? I was mad at him! I mean, clearly my judgment is clouded by the crush I have on him, so if I stop having feelings, I’ll see him as he really is. But what have I even done that he’s thankful for me? I feel like a placeholder, like I’m just here until things work in such a way that he gets his ex back, or that I’ll be less important once he has another girlfriend.
And I shouldn’t feel that way. I feel like I am worthy of love, that I’m worthy of and deserve his love. It’s not just because I do the dishes. We were talking tonight about things, and it was mentioned that we both have money budgeted in such a way that neither of us is struggling on a monthly basis, and that we could assist the other in a pinch. “But we’re not in a relationship,” he mentioned, which was like stabbing me with a knife, albeit a decorative knife which I knew I wanted to keep. But the context was to emphasize that a couple he was referring to was engaged to be wed, and one partner struggled while the other seemed to do fine because they can’t budget financially together. Look what we have here, I thought to myself. But I suppose we only make a good couple on paper, or in theory. His feelings need to be there, not just mine.
After my shower, I crawled into bed and played on my cell phone. I heard a bedroom door open, then the wooden boards of the hallway floor creaked with each step. I figured it was the other housemate, who was in town for the weekend, or her significant other. I figured that whoever it was, the person was going to the bathroom, nothing more, so I minded my own business. I heard a muffled thud as something hit the comforter and my leg beneath it. I looked up, just in time to see the side of J’s face as he walked back to his room. I looked to see what hit me, only to discover it was the fourth 3-novel compilation of the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, which I started reading about a month ago. I had just finished the third novel in the third book, and thus the entirety of the third book, earlier that day at work. However, I returned that book in the midst of our argument, opening the door just a crack so I could place it on the small bookshelf by the door, then closing the door behind me. I was going to be stubborn and prideful, I was going to start reading some of my other books instead of grabbing the next in the Sweep series. His words were already pulling me out of the mood I was in towards him, but seeing the book on my bed, I couldn’t help but consider him to be thoughtful, like that was the only word coming to mind to describe him.
Over the weekend, we were watching the second to last episode of Iron Fist. As sometimes happens, he couldn’t seem to figure out where to put his hand behind me, or if it should be on my side. So I held it in place over my left shoulder for long enough that the only reason why he moved it was because it wasn’t a comfortable position any longer. I started nodding off during that episode, possibly because a lack of sleep was catching up to me, and just as I had closed my eyes he nudged me awake. Usually he’s the one falling asleep and I try to nudge him, or we both start nodding off. My eyes weren’t closed long enough that I missed anything, so it was nice that he caught me nodding off at that moment.
Yeah, I’m thankful for him. And if I’m smiling more than I think I am, it probably has something to do with his ability to make me smile when I don’t otherwise feel like it.