If the chance ever comes to you again to fall in love, grab it, every time. You might always live to regret it, but you won’t find anything to beat it, and you won’t know if it will ever come to you once more.
(Joseph Heller: God Knows)
Without any warning, last week made me temporarily feel younger than my actual age.
Not the fact that on Monday I somehow succeeded in re-sealing the bath’s edges and then found a welcome sum had appeared on my account, enabling me to buy (online, that very night) a 17-litre minifridge and look up more furniture. I half-expected the money, though not so soon. Not the fact that on Tuesday I spent several hours in IKEA and eventually bought an assortment I still consider a good choice. (For once I managed not to rush when shopping.) What followed.
Because presently after my return, a friend texted, asking me whether I could put him up. I’d promised him earlier he could leave his things with me if he needed, but this was a bolt out of the blue.
Basically I didn’t like the idea at all and I told him so, although I didn’t expand on the reasons: For one thing, I’m a gay in my mid-forties and he’s a straight in his early twenties. For another, I wasn’t absolutely certain my contract allowed this. For a third, we weren’t that close. (I’ve known him for over a year, we must have spent dozens of hours smoking together, twice or thrice he’s been to my old room and once to my new flat, he accompanied me on my first walk outdoors after my accident in case I couldn’t cope on my own, but that was all.) And I’m a bitter curmudgeonly old fart unaccustomed to such intrusions on my privacy, especially at such a short notice.
But when it turned out I was his last chance not to end up literally on the street, what the fuck could I do? Even my selfishness has its limits. We were so close that I couldn’t find it in myself to turn him down under such circumstances.
So I did put him up. After all, I argued, he’d be useful with that furniture. When he came I stressed I wanted him to leave asap, and I went to sleep that night not too happy, but consoling myself with the knowledge that for once I have overcome my cowardice and selfishness and done the right thing. However, my mood soon began to shift. Because the better part of Wednesday we spent together. Assembling the furniture, eating, smoking, drinking coffee, even shopping – and chatting away with a thousand chuckles. In other words, I was living with somebody I liked a lot, something I haven’t experienced for the last five years and hardly hoped I would ever experience again.
Going to sleep that second night I realised that I couldn’t wait to see him go and at the same time didn’t want him to leave at all.
But on Thursday he finally got a room in a hostel for homeless people. I accompanied him when he went there for the first time to check in; later he returned for another meal together and to pick the most necessary things. After he left again I went to buy me a bottle of whisky and fags and on the way finally decided I loved him. Even said out loud so much. Back home I tidied the flat and then just drank coffee and whisky, smoked like a chimney and thought about him and my previous loves and life in general. Glad I was alone here again at last and sad he was already gone.
He’s still got most of his things here, so occasionally he revisits. (On Saturday we even day-tripped together, but that deserves another post.) I’m not daft though. Even as I think, now and then, “my cup runneth over”, I understand how fleeting this situation is. I don’t care. I’m not madly in love, anyway; but for a couple of years or so I wondered whether I’d lost the ability to fall in love altogether. Obviously, so far I haven’t.
And I still feel somewhat younger than my actual age.