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Relationships

Mine All Mine

“God” I say, “I hate when its sunny, it gives me such a headache.” I say to you as we trudge through the mud and the muck on the way to the coffee shop.

“Can I have my sunglasses?” I continue, you ruffle through the pocket of your winter coat as I continue to bitch about the sun. I have always hated the blinding light of the sun off the snow in mid-January.

“Thanks” I muster as I put my sunglasses on.

We walk past a pizza place, there is another pizza place across the four-lane road with a grass divider in the middle. And even though the man who owns that one hates women I like their pizza more. We then walk past the gas station, then passed the bar we used to frequent, across the street is the charred remains of a bar that we didn’t frequent, it burned down a few years ago on a early January night. We used to live on the same block as that bar and I remember how upset people were when it burned down; like they had lost a friend. Next to that is another pizza place.

Then we cross the cross walk and into the café. 

I have had my sunglasses on for maybe a minute before we arrive to the coffee shop, the one I used to work at in college. It is a very local chain, maybe only 3 or 4 others exist like it, all about an hour’s drive from each other. This walk is all but unfamiliar to us as you used to walk me there every day so I could make ends meet and only go into a smaller amount of debt than I would otherwise. Debt that looms over us like a rain cloud in a 1950’s cartoon. I take my sunglasses off as we enter as it is easier to see the menu that way, even though I am going to get the same thing I always get and so will you. 

Me: a sandwich with capers, red onion, veggie cream cheese, and Nova Scotia smoked salmon, on a toasted sesame bagel and an iced chai with oat milk (they only come in one size so that’s what I get but I would get a large if that was an option).

You: a sausage, egg, and cheese on a jalapeno cheddar bagel, toasted and a strawberry banana smoothie (unlike my chai they have multiple size options for this, so you get a small).

I know from working here a few years ago for a few years that they ask if you want your bagel toasted after you tell them the kind of bagel you want, I should start saying “toasted” after I say “sesame bagel” but I like the predictability of them asking “did you want that toasted?” and me saying “yes, please” even after I already said it. I could save a whole 10 seconds if I just changed the order of my order, but I enjoy the interaction, so I keep it the same. That will forever be one of the great differences between you and me, that you are courteous enough to say “toasted” after you say, “jalapeno cheddar bagel”.

“… and can we get a cheese danish to split?” you tell the person who is working at the counter. I am not sure who this person is even though I worked here for years. The door out front might as well be one of those revolving ones you would find in a larger city than this one with how many college students are employed for a year or so and then leave for something better. I recognize a bunch of customers thought, not that they would recognize me in return. Though, they might recognize me too, but they would probably just say “hmm, she looks familiar.” but never think much more of it.

They tell you the total, and you pay it. I grab my chai and sit in a booth near the window. I think about putting my sunglasses back on because that January sun just won’t quit, but I don’t want to run the risk of looking like a douche bag, so I leave them off. You slide into the other side of the booth shortly after me, you lagged behind to grab some napkins. Before we do anything you help me wipe the seeds of previous customer onto the floor and use a napkin to wipe up any water or spills, then I take an extra napkin and fold it and put it under my cup as to not have the condensation sweat stains all over the table like others, and in my head I am a hero and a better person because of it, finally putting us back on the same level of great; you say “toasted” after and I use a napkin as a coaster.

We sit in silence for a minute. Not because we are mad but because we are in love, and this is the type of silence only two lovers can understand. They call your name, and you go get our sandwiches and return back with them, and more napkins. We have always gone through lots of napkins, and I can never tell if it is because we are messy people, or we order messy food, or because I tend to have sensory issues when I touch things and between every bite, I insist on wiping my fingers and mouth. It is a ritual of ours regardless to have more napkins than we could need.

You offer me a bite of your sandwich, “I think there is less sausage on this part” and I take a bite of it, even though usually I do not like it and you know this and so do I, and this time is no different. I offer you a bite of mine even thought I know you don’t like fish, you have learned a lesson I can’t seem to though; that you can say no when I offer because you know you won’t like it.

Halfway through my sandwich and chai is when I have my half of the cheese danish. I love cheese danish but I love salty fish, creamy spreads, and the snaps of capers and onions more. I have never been much for sweets, but you know that. Even before our wedding when we did our cake tasting I kept complaining how all the flavors were much too sweet for me. That is how we decided on strawberry champagne because the flavors were just lightly sweet. Between that and how we both thought that flavor was good for spring weddings.

We continue munching in silence and I can’t stop thinking about you and why you like me. I have never had much to give you in way of a grandeur excellence, splendid riches, or immaculate looks and grace, but in the same vein you have never wanted much of me. I am just some girl you met someday with whom you can match wits and play a rousing game of cribbage. However, for right now, we are silent. I think sometimes people assume we don’t like each other but I am just quiet and so are you. In reality, I don’t think I have ever liked anyone as much as I have liked you and that is why I am so quiet. I feel like I need to put on a show for everyone else, like the world is a circus and I am some oddity and even then, I feel people would rather see the trapeze or a man with no arms and no legs. I think more about how to outsiders we probably look odd.

“How is your food?” I finally say out loud.

“Good, how is yours?” you reply.

“Good” I say quietly.

I decided not to add how the paper straw is disintegrating into my chai. We try our best to be environmentalists, we use bar soap over ones that come in bottles, we use bamboo products around our house, and we keep glass pasta sauce jars for drinking cups. I am not sure why I trick myself into thinking it makes a difference. Certainly, we aren’t the ones dumping oil into the oceans. But every day we play our lover’s games with the environment and I believe I am helping in some miniscule way.

“I love you” I confess. Being in love is so odd and strange to me that sometimes I forget I am in it; everything feels like a confession even though we have told the truth about a million times before.

“I love you too” you say back. His brown eyes lock with mine and he smiles towards me. I smile back and suddenly we look like two doofuses smiling together. Although we probably look deranged it makes me happy to know he loves me. I feel one butterfly flutter around my insides for a brief second. No one talks about how you lose butterflies the longer you are together. 

I think quickly about how I have always found it nauseating when other couples are so incessant about their love for one another.

He is my best friend, and even thought we have had our ups and downs there is no one else I rather have by my side through this crazy adventure we call life.

Why are they so obsessed with proving their relationships to others? I think my relationship is both better than theirs and more realistic as well.

“Did you want to go get our steps in today?” he asks. 

“Yes, please!” I smile again, another butterfly flies around, the butterflies always migrate back to me with simple pleasures like these. Getting out steps in is lingo we have for going to our favorite store, getting coffee, and then walking laps as we look at all stuff we don’t need or can’t afford, that we buy anyways.

We finish at the coffee shop and walk back past the bar, the gas station, the pizza place to our car which we have parked in front of the post office, which is just beyond another pizza place. The car is so old and beat up, a hand-me-down from your father. We sit and buckle up, the heat blasting so I turn it down because I hate the heat. You don’t protest but you do laugh a little and I roll my eyes and shake my head. 

I fix the peeling sticker I placed on the passenger side dashboard. I peeled it off a lamppost in Burlington one night while we were dicking around on Church Street near Lake Champlain with your best friend, who is now my best friend too. It kind of looks like our cat but I acquired the sticker much before we got her. I think a lot about how weird life is and all the coincidences that lead me to you. Like how I have a photo of myself outside where you used to take trumpet lessons or how my sister goes to school ten minutes from your childhood home. How do these things even happen? Divine intervention? Maybe. Divine Comedy? Probably. When you look at the Paradise, we have created for ourselves from the Hell that was life before each other, I think Dante had it right.

We drive to the store which only takes a few minutes, but we turn the radio on for the haul over. We listen in silence, but you start to sing along. You know that is a pet peeve of mine, when people sing along to the radio, but instead of stopping you I let it slide this time because I am in a good mood.

I end up ordering a iced chai with oat milk again, my second for the day. This time I decide to get a large because that is an option I have here. You order your drink too and pay and we wait for them to call your name. I sway to the music that is playing, even though I cannot tell what the song is and I continue because I just assume it is a song I will like as I tend to like most songs. People think I have no taste because I usually feel positive about most movies, shows, and songs but really, I do have taste and my taste is to not be picky and enjoy things even if not everyone agrees. All that matters is that I enjoy them. One of my favorite lines of music is “I’m in love with every song you’ve ever heard” by Noah Kahan, and that is how you and I work, so you start to sway to the music too.

We walk around and put items into a red cart that has a squeaky wheel, the loudest noise that comes from us. We are still silent, but the cart talks for us. I think about you more. Not in the way a young person would think about another young person; current. But the way an old person would think about another old person; long ago. I think about how it is funny how even though we have only been together for 5 years it still feels like I have known you my whole life. Like one day we met and then neither of us left, and neither of us will ever leave. I feel like I have already grown old with you. I guess maybe not older, but definitely wiser. You make me young and wise.

World history breaks the study down into a time before and a time after and while the time during is chronicled and reiterated on Sundays in white buildings, that is not the during I am interested it. Don’t fill me with sermons when I am busy worshipping silence. Keep your faith, for this one is mine. Mine all mine.

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by its.lydia.a

Lydia Allen is a helper and creater who currently works in both college admissions and as an author. She lives with her husband and cat, Clementine, in New Hampshire.

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