This is a love story, but it’s not the one you think. She’s been longing for him for what feels like forever, and they are finally going to meet. That aching, yearning, why-the-fuck-can’t-we-fuck feeling has charged all of the conversations I’ve had with her for the last six months.
I have never met this man. But I cheer her on anyway. I wish her good luck and bon voyage and god-I-hope-this-is-as-good-as-you-think-it-will-be. When the day finally comes, I am tense and I don’t know why. It’s only when I see a message that I realise I was waiting in the first place. Waiting for confirmation: she’s found him, she’s had him, it’s done.
This is a love story, but it’s not about her and him: it’s me and her. I love her. The joy she feels when she finally fucks him is reflected on my face that day. I run into the next room to tell the man that I love: she’s done it. She’s fucked him. She’s happy. He grins too. We tell another of our friends: she’s done it! This woman you have never met who I love so much it hurts, she’s happy. My other friend grins too.
Ripples of her happiness shiver across the pond to touch people she has never even met: those who know her and those who do not, as we dive greedily into her joy. It’s OK, she has plenty to spare.
This is a love story, too. The woman I told, who responded with joy and delight for a stranger: I love her too. Her presence, her laugh, her kindness, the way she’ll gently ask you ‘are you sure you’re being fair here?’ if you’re slagging off someone who doesn’t deserve it. She is precise and careful with her words when she has bad news to deliver, but free and open with her expressions of love, her reminders that ‘you’re awesome’, and her reassurance that she’s here for you. When you’re crying, when you’re happy, when you’ve utterly and truly fucked up.
The love I feel for her is sometimes light, skipping through my veins when I’m excited to see her after a long time, and sometimes heavy as fuck – when I’m hit with a gutpunch of realisation that without her I would not be the same.
Recently, she found love of her own: the kind of love we usually mean when we talk about love on Valentine’s Day. Love that gets a cat and looks at paint samples and moves out of London. I could easily be sad about this, if she were just a friend. But there is no ‘just’ about our friendship: I love her. I’m ecstatic.
I could tell a dozen love stories like this. Each one sparked by those tiny moments when you realise just how much you love your friends. Not ‘love’ like ‘want to fuck’ or ‘love’ like a slurred ‘love ya mate’ after six pints on a Friday night: love like ‘you make my world better’ and love like ‘you’re astonishing.’ Love that tightens around your chest and rises in your throat and wells up in your eyes. Love which gives you butterflies and tingles. I know so many people who make my heart hurt with love that I would never get to the end of this post if I wrote a proper love story about all of them.
But this is a love story, too: I watch him watching the band. I watch his grinning face, turned upwards and lit in blue, red, pink and purple. I sing along with him, and my whole body tingles with pleasure that I get to see him radiating this much joy. It is nothing special, nothing unique. I see him in countless moments like this – the bands and singers who he loves, I love. And I don’t know if it’s because we have the same taste, or just because his pleasure is so infectious.
Days later, someone asks me about the gig, and for some reason I’m too shy to explain that my favourite part was when he reached out, put his arms round me, and we sang all the words together. I could not explain why I cried when he did this, why it felt like I just had so much emotion inside me it had to swell up and start pouring out of my face.
I think I cried because I’m lucky. I’m lucky because he‘s my friend.
We talk of love and butterflies and heartache and longing in ways that sometimes seem inextricably tied to romance. To partnership. To marriage and mortgages and monogamy. Love love.
But that’s wrong. Love – giddy, weepy, joyful, messy, glorious – is not a single story, with a single plot, that starts with a kiss and ends with happy ever after.
Some of my greatest love stories are those which star my best friends.
It’s not just sex stuff I learn from Bish – go check out his post on romance and friendship.