I was delighted after the long-awaited declaration of love.
The morning after Andrew said it, we were hugging and chatting in bed.
“I love you,” I said. “Do you feel loved?”
“Yeah,” he replied.
“What does it feel like?”
He thought for a moment, and then said, “Unfamiliar.”
I thought that was sad. I wasn’t sure if he meant feeling romantically loved was unfamiliar, or all love.
“Hopefully it will feel familiar soon,” I said.
Over the next week, we spoke on the phone most evenings. Some slight doubts crossed my mind, like wispy clouds on an otherwise sunny day – I had crowbarred the L-word out of him, rather than him saying it of his own volition. I had hoped we’d start saying it all the time now, but that hadn’t happened yet, at least on the phone. I tried to put them to the back of my mind.
That weekend, he was working. We agreed I would go around to his, and we’d spend Saturday evening together. As he was working, I would sort out dinner. He said he’d phone during the day to let me know if he was able to finish early.
He called me at about 4pm in the afternoon.
“Sorry, sorry, it’s been really busy,” he said, before even saying Hello, when I answered the phone.
“Why are you sorry?” I asked.
“Because I’m phoning late.”
I hadn’t really thought about it, but if anything, had expected him to call later than this.
“Don’t be sorry!”
It made me think; I don’t mind the idea that I run a tight ship – he cares about my feelings, and he won’t just walk all over me. Previously I had joked about running a tight ship and he had said, “oh, you’re in charge, are you?” while bending me over the bed.
However, I don’t want him to think I’m always pissed off, or be scared of me. There’s a fine line between letting him know I won’t tolerate nonsense and being mardy all the time.
I got the train to his side of London, and went to the shop to get fajita ingredients. I can never find what I’m looking for in his supermarket and the vegetables always seem a bit sad.
When I got to his place, we kissed and he started groping me immediately.
“You’re treating me like a piece of meat!” I laughed, as he tried to manhandle me onto the bed.
Then, because he’s a vegetarian, I added, “Well, you’re treating me like a piece of Quorn.”
In all seriousness, I had a really bad mouth ulcer, so the urgent kissing was hurting.
We were both really hungry so I started cooking straight away. We cooked together and kissed whenever there was a lull. He was good at kissing me more in the right hand side of my mouth so it hurt my ulcer less. (It’s finally turned a corner now, but I had that ulcer for two weeks and it’s been hell! Every time I’ve eaten, drank or even smiled it has caught on my tooth. I’m sure when I broke my hand it didn’t hurt this much. I think I’d rather have a broken bone than a mouth ulcer.)
We were talking about my friend, who is going through a breakup. We talked about how horrible breakups are.
I suddenly imagined how awful it would be to break up with Andrew.
“I’m going to say something,” I announced. “I hope we don’t break up.”
“Oh, me too!” He replied, and we hugged.
In some ways it was obvious, so he wasn’t that surprised. However, until recently, we’d both said things like “if this carries on going well…” or “if we stay together…” or “if we’re still together then…” when talking about the future, so this was a bit of a shift.
The fajitas were nice.
We went to bed and watched an episode of Lovesick on Netflix, which I’ve watched a million times but wanted to introduce him to, now Catastrophe is over.
We had sex after that. I got a bit sad after the sex, because in the post-coital hug, it felt like a normal time to say that we love each other.
I asked him to say something nice, then felt worse because I’d asked.
“Am I always going to have to ask?” I said.
We talked about it and I said I hoped eventually, we’d just say it whenever we felt it. He said he thought he’d get there. I said that all the months without him saying it had knocked my confidence.
We went to sleep.
He got up at the crack of dawn for work. I liked watching him get dressed, knowing I could go back to sleep afterwards.
We said goodbye, and just as he was leaving the bedroom, I remembered to ask about a key, so I could lock the door when I left.
“Oh, yes!” He said, going to find a key. He came back into the bedroom. “The key is on the kitchen table.”
“Shall I put it in your letterbox when I leave?” I asked, as that’s what he’d asked me to do, previous times.
“No, you could just hang on to it, if you like,” he replied.
YES!! He’s given me a key!!
“OK, cool,” I said nonchalantly.
Then, I went out into the hallway to give him another kiss, like he’d done for me, when I’d had to leave early.
I went back to sleep for a few more hours.
Around lunchtime, I was meeting my friend, Open Relationship Guy, and his girlfriend, to see a film in central London.
After a leisurely start to the morning, I went into the bathroom to get showered.
I went to the toilet and flushed it, but it didn’t flush.
Shit, I thought. Literally.
After what I’d used the toilet for, it was important to me that it did flush successfully.
The toilet seemed to be blocked. I didn’t think it was my fault, as I’d noticed when I arrived, the night before, that the toilet seemed to be full of toilet paper. When I had flushed it, it hadn’t all gone down.
This time, when I flushed it, water was flowing into the toilet bowl, but nothing was going down. The water level in the toilet rose much higher than usual. Everything was just swirling around.
I flushed it again, and more water poured in. This time, some stuff was starting to go down, so I flushed it again. More water poured in.
The water was up to the brim of the toilet! It was nearly pouring onto the bathroom floor.
Fuck, I can’t leave it like this! I thought.
I tried to decide what to do, as I’d never been in this situation before. Andrew’s flat is very poorly equipped – he doesn’t even have a toilet brush, let alone plumbing tools.
I went into the kitchen. I needed something to scoop some of the water out of the toilet, before I did anything else, as it was in danger of flooding the bathroom.
I remembered the milk carton in the fridge was nearly empty, so I got that, and drunk the last of the milk.
I went back into the bathroom, and used the empty milk carton to bail the water out of the toilet and into the sink (which I bleached thoroughly afterwards).
This is pretty grim, I thought, as I kept putting my hands back in the toilet to scoop more water out.
Once I’d got the water level back to normal in the toilet, I tried to decide what to do next.
I went back into the kitchen. I decided to stick with the theme of using rubbish as tools, so it could be thrown away afterwards. Luckily, there was a lot to choose from, as Andrew never seems to take his rubbish or recycling out.
I picked up a small empty glass bottle, and went back in the bathroom. I put that down the toilet and used a repeated shoving motion to clear the blockage.
I was actually quite proud of myself for managing to fix the problem.
Also, he might not be dishing out any unprompted declarations of love yet, but he’d given me a key, and now I had unclogged his toilet. A new level of intimacy.
I washed my hands, EXTREMELY THOROUGHLY, and then texted my friend, saying “Sorry, will be a few mins late, had a slight plumbing emergency,” then got in the shower.
This friend is a guy I went on a date with in 2016, and after that, we agreed just to be friends, as we had loads in common but there wasn’t a spark. We regularly meet up and go to the cinema together. He’s had a girlfriend for the past year, and it seems to be going well. I met her a few months ago, when the three of us saw a film together.
Apparently, she “hadn’t been keen when she realised we’d met on a dating app, but then did like me once she met me”. Since then, when we’ve arranged to see a film, she’s always “really wanted to see that film” and come along. Maybe we do just have the exact same taste in films. It’s fine, except I used to enjoy comparing notes on dating and relationships with him, which I feel like we can’t really do now.
I had thought I should try and make clear I’m absolutely not a love rival so I could get the odd one-on-one cinema trip back in the calendar.
When I arrived to meet them, my friend asked what the plumbing emergency was.
As I talked them through my shitty situation, I thought, this will probably do it.
That evening, I texted another of my friends, saying what had happened with toiletgate.
After congratulating me on being able to come up with solution under pressure, she said, “at least he wasn’t there! Like, outside the bathroom, saying ‘is everything OK? You’ve been a while,’ while you tried to do it silently with only bathroom implements.”
“Yes, that’s true!” I agreed. “I’m so glad he wasn’t there. If he’d absolutely had to see one of my poos swirling around, I really wouldn’t have wanted it to be that one.”