Do you remember the National Express coach we caught together, separately? And travelled south on a warm May day as we merged into conversation on the motorway? It was no Devine Comedy the 12 years that followed, but oh the early months were bliss.
Do you remember how one sizzling summer evening our neighbours finished their alfresco dinner party in stunned silence when we forgot to shut the sash? Do you remember…?
That was the year I bought you expensive chocolates, and bunches of flowers, and a soppy romantic card, and got you sexy lingerie
for our first Valentine.
I didn’t need a commercial Love fest to express what I felt for you. I told to you every day,
I love you,
until the words stuck in my throat and I choked on every syllable, coughing them out with broken teeth and blood cut by every wound inflicted in the house we shared that needed to be repaired and where you resented me for what I didn’t do,
and what I did, and what I… whatever.
But I suppose you felt the same way.
That was why posh chocs became a rarity and the flowers wilted in their pot; and the pink love-cards lost their hue and the lingerie got forgot
on bloody Valentine.
As our summer ended you said “I’m leaving.”
I said, no.
No, I’ll go.
I couldn’t see the gorgeous fruit of our union dragged from his home. So I packed my belongings into boxes and moved from place to place, picking up the pieces of my shattered life, sticking them together with glue like a plastic model kit. I stood battered and beaten and a decade older, stripped bare and my confidence razed.
But I don’t have to buy you chic chocolates or out-of-season flowers or oversized cards, or alluring lingerie, now you’re
someone else’s Valentine.
I’m no-one’s macho-man: I’m not an Alpha-type and the closest I get to a six-pack is an offer from the off-license; I don’t have any particular talent or skill; I don’t play sport or hang-out in trendy bars or laugh at jokes with the blokes down the pub; and no-one pours cash over my incompetence.
Instead I work for just enough; do just enough; am just enough;
but I’m never man enough.
Now I look at the opposite sex and they look back
at me and see a lecherous middle-aged alien sex fiend, and choose to keep on walking not wanting from me
a box of exorbitant chocolates or an array of slaughtered flowers or a six-feet high card or red polyester knickers
for flipping Valentine.
Four drab walls surround me and deaden the sound of that commercially sanctioned
I love you.
I’ve wasted so many heartbeats seeking affection, only to find it in an unexpected form. I’ve wasted so much time seeking happiness not knowing its kernel dwells within me
and it needs constant care.
When the page of the year folds round to February I sit back and smile understanding yet another year has passed by where I’ve stashed my cash at the bank and not squandered it
on overpriced chocolates or blighted flowers or a silly heart-shaped card or some decadent knickers never used