I sat at the table with a coffee gone lukewarm, gazing at the barista’s swirl. He’s drawing a pair of lines on the table with an imaginary pen.
“Unless we are identical people, Clarice, it’s two lines. The way we envision our lives – our preferences, our principles, our outlook – end up being two different lines.”
He’s visibly worried. It has been this way since we argued.
“And as a couple, sometimes we’re on my line and sometimes we’re on your line. You see, that’s what love is, the willingness to be on the other’s line. Sometimes that switch can be sold to one. I do my best to explain the whys don’t I?”
He’s always telling me that. Unless it’s a matter of preference, explain the whys.
“..but sometimes it’s just preference. And it’s at those times that switching over reassures the other that there is love. Love’s what gets you through that. But the discomfort of switching over adds up, you know? Fairness is another aspect of this. Very mathematically speaking, to be happy in the long term, we have to make sure it’s even, the sacrifices.”
Mathematically speaking? Han is always putting things into little buckets of logic. Just hug me goddammit. This’ll stop that moment.
“Sometimes you change for me, and sometimes I learn to expect less. And the other way around”
I am still quiet. His hair’s disheveled and he’s trying so hard to mend things, in his own way. He will not learn that this fairness he speaks of, if he earns by asking for it, will not seem as sweet. Just trust me, Han. Look at life many years from now and you’ll see that things were fair. I understand what you’re saying, and I am committed to the same thing. You having to say it is the shame. Time will go by, and one thing we know for certain today is that no matter how close we are, and how precise our life, one of us will die first. And leave the other with the burden of this measurement. Look then, Han, without loss shading that measurement ivory, or coating away its blemishes, and you’ll find your fairness. We just have to make it through today, honey. Today is what we have together. Just hold me, I am tired.
He reaches out and takes my hand still looking thoughtful, “I know you know all this. I should be quiet.”
“No, you’re right. I couldn’t have phrased it as well, but I think we want the same things and I am going to pay more attention”, I reply. My hand is on top of his now and we sit that way for a few more minutes. As I pull back to get up I say, “I am going to heat this coffee up and head back, feel better ok? We’re going to be alright.”
Chicago, IL, USA