October 7th, 2017

Charah coffee

Some Messy Thoughts

There was a distinct moment last night - or maybe it was in the early hours of this morning - when I looked at him, at this familiar face that my caffeine habit had, as if ineluctably, helped me commit to memory over the past year - his strong jaw line, his short-cropped dark hair, a hint of dimples when he smiles, the exaggerated upward curl of his eyelashes - and I thought, 'Do I really know him? Will I ever really know him? Will I ever understand him? Is there enough time? Have we got enough time?'

They were factually true, the differences between us. But they were just that: facts. Abstract facts that had no bearing on how I felt about him, facts that float like dust particles in the atmosphere, facts bloated with unimportance because I saw past them; they did not matter to me; what mattered was this enormous heart that he has, the depths of which he himself is probably unaware. It didn't matter that we came from almost completely different worlds, grew up with completely different expectations of what we'd do with our lives; for instance, he was persuaded to go to university but didn't finish, whereas not going to university was never an option that was made available to me by my social world. Despite all these skin deep differences, however, we got along; we had interesting conversations; we had fun when we were together; there is a mutual physical attraction; and I liked spending time with him, and I missed him when we didn't speak for a week, and I missed him too in the days, too many of them, that we didn't see each other.

But his world is unknown to me. I know nothing of it save for superficial interactions with the people that I encounter when I buy a drink in a bar, order a meal in a restaurant, order a coffee in a cafe. Once, he told me that he - and by extension, his 'people' - is the salt of the Cambridge: the other side of Cambridge that goes ignored for its flashy, intellectual, historic reputation (and substance), the part of Cambridge that is eternally in competition with its pretentious, pseudo-posh tendencies, driven by pretentious, faux-posh tossers who think it normal to walk around in a full suit for absolutely no reason except 'because Cambridge'. I am not nestled within these extremes; but I am from the type of social world that thinks it normal to aspire to attend a university like Cambridge; I am from a socio-economic background that doesn't understand what it means to live paycheck to paycheck, survive on minimum wage, do a non-professional job.

I see him talk to the people that he knows in the bar that he used to work as a bartender and it strikes me just how little I know of him; or rather, how little I understand. Which parts of himself does he give up - even if subconsciously - to be with me? How comfortable does he feel to be completely himself when he's with me? I pass negative judgement on types of behaviour without thinking that he could well do those things too, such as complaining about a driver blasting his bad taste in music with his car's stereo system as it goes by us while we are sitting outside the Wine Merchant, and he tells me that he did the same thing to his old Renault when he was younger. Should I have taken him at his word when he said, months ago, that he was 'common as muck' compared to me?

But it goes both ways. He thinks that I am beautiful. What else does he think that I am? Will he still want to be with me once he gets to really know me? He thinks that the books that I read are inaccessible. I consider them an extension of myself; these writers of these novels that I love so much represent the kind of writer that I want to be, the kind of writer that I aspire to be. Will he ever understand me? Will he still like what he comprehends? Will he still tell me, his face inches away from mine while we are snuggled together under his duvet, 'I'm so lucky. How are you in my bed? You could be a model. I'm so stupid for almost giving up the chance to be with you.'

Will he ever take me off his pedestal? Will I take him off mine? Will I be more to him than a CV personified in a pretty face? Will he be more to me than the cute barista who made me smile every time I got my coffee?

But we have come quite far along now. This relationship - we have not defined it but it is essentially that - feels natural; even our moments of disagreement, such as his telling me at La Raza last night, when he was a bit drunk, that he didn't like that I called him 'cute' all the time, feel natural. Even this morning, when I woke up in his bed and it was 5 past noon and he remembered that he was watching his friend's rugby match at 2pm - even the sense of disappointment that I'd felt then at not having him to spend my day with (when I'd assumed that it was what we'd do without saying anything about it) felt natural. It'd felt it had made a difference whether or not I'd spent my Saturday afternoon with him because I'd wanted to; because he'd mattered.

I came to Cambridge two years ago thinking I would date intellectual academic types; at my most hopeful, I thought I would find an intellectual academic type. But then I met him. He mattered in a way that the barista at my local coffee shop would not have mattered if it had been anyone but him. I have written so many entries about him in this journal - and the majority of them were written before we'd even started going out. To the extent that I had been able to intellectualise this attraction, I had chalked it down to an intellectual curiosity of his radical otherness, because opposites attract like two opposing poles of a magnet; a fusion of yin and yang; a theory of complementarity, of balance.

But there remains a part that I don't understand, that is beyond my attraction to his otherness, my attraction to his attributes that make me want to be with him. It is the thing that is fuelling this increasing melancholy when I think of the fact that he will leave; it is only a matter of when. It alarms me at times when I am feeling faint-hearted, as if I were not made of the sterner stuff to live in the moment; and it alarms me because of how in love I am with being with him, of feeling his arms around me as I fall asleep, of feeling him reach for me in the middle of the night. It alarms me, too, because of a possible realisation, one which I am resisting for now.

I do not understand why this has not yet fizzled out. I do not understand why it seems to be working. Have I the time to understand it?


He cleaned up his room for me. 'I changed my sheets. I even hoovered,' he said. 'I never hoover. You should feel special!'

Oh, but I do. Yes I do.