At first I thought it might be infatuation.
I was obsessed with his bum, and the way his shoulders curved when he walked. I noted his blond eyebrows, lopsided smile, the way he bit his lip sometimes when he would look at me across a room and I would suspect he was thinking about me.
I didn’t feel any of the empathy I felt for Mike. I remember the first twinges of that with Mike; one night us and our housemates all cooked, pizza and garlic doughballs, and Mike stood on one. The garlic spurted all over his socks and he looked so embarrassed as he tried to clean it up that I cried. We forever called it my irrational doughball moment but it was pure empathy.
I thought it might not be like that with MindReader. For it was so soon and so sudden and Mike was so in the forefront of my brain that he was often all I could talk about. I thought the 5 hour long phone calls with MindReader, the hours lingering on platforms of Birmingham New Station Station only pointed to some obsession that I had to get out of my system.
It didn’t change in an instant; these things never do.
I started to notice the way he listened. Not just when I ranted and moaned about work, law, housemates, but when I didn’t realise he was listening. So he would surprise me with things he knew I liked, mannerisms I didn’t know I had, and he tapped into my deepest neuroses so fast that I found myself telling him things only a few select others know, and found he knew exactly how to respond even if it was with constant reassurances that I did not have alopaecia and that the world wasn’t going to end.
I noticed his delight in me. In psychotic moments and blonde moments, and spider moments, he smiles, only half his mouth curving up sarcastically. He delights in my obsession with music lyrics, listing my top five everything, even, he says, at 4 in the morning in Stanstead airport. It is amusing to him how messy I am, how I warn him I will never be tidy. He understands my disgust at poncy rich people, and my ultimate desire to be just like those pashmina-wearing-M&S-shopping types. He knows to not ask me to watch him play football as his friends would call me a WAG, yet would not be surprised if it was my life ambition.
He wants to know everything, and his insistence is often overwhelming.
He nests with me; fluffing pillows and turning the heating up and watching movies. He likes late-night coffee, always with chocolate, because it doesn’t give him palpitations like it does me. He is, I joke, a football thug, a sports enthusiast. But, he cooks, tasting herbs grown in his garden, says things like bok soi like they are every day words. He says he is a-party-political, yet has a degree in it and can shoot my arguments down in seconds, without thought. And yet, he can do that ridiculous Ali-G wrist snapping thing with his hand, which suggests he taught himself how.
He is fashionable. He talks about what goes with what, and wears ridiculous stripey tops which I maintain are slightly camp.
We do not talk about law that much; it is not something I feel we have in common. However when we do it is strangely in depth, political, where he thinks it’s all going. And random – in between a starter and a main, whilst he was fixing my lightbulb.
He’s well travelled. All over Europe in 5 weeks, right to the hardests parts like Belgrade. He often starts anecdotes with In Macedonia, and yet, the stories are more often about how he overpaid for a towel or what the train station looked like.
His hair goes curly at his neck when it gets too long, and his freckles all multiply together in the sun.
His bag strap broke last week, and he looked so poor and hard working in his big duffel coat that I cried.