I met Shane through a mutual friend back home when I was 16; a crammed house party, one drink too many, and a cute boy with a British accent. Good thing I nearly threw up all over his shoes – I owe our relationship to it.
My last year in Norway was lonely. The moment I turned 18, I left home to explore the city lights that captured my heart as a little girl. Still, as I retreated to my crammed shoebox of an apartment every night, I felt immensely lonely and sad. There’s no surprise that some of the best memories I had in that apartment involved waking up on sunny Sunday mornings to his cute little snores and long dark, curly locks tickling my neck. When he left, I clung onto the fact that he would return in two months, just another sixty-or-so days. Luckily, I learned to like my own space. In fact, I loved it so much that I started contemplating if I could ever move in with him.
Fast forward three years and we did move in together. Then, we took another step and got Bear, our 9-month-old Chow Chow pup. The honeymoon phase was great; smiley-faced eggs and bacon for breakfast, cosy café dates and restaurant retreats. I felt like I was fourteen again, with the butterflies and all. I never wanted it to end.
But it did end. Bear’s eye was drooping, he needed surgery and insurance didn’t cover it all. We were low on money and uni work started to pile up, leaving us with little time for anything, let alone each other. His cute little snores were no longer cute nor little, and every single strand of his god-awful curly hair was making me itch, keeping me up at night. His OCD meant that he’d start cleaning in the middle of dinner, leaving me alone by the dinner table. Games were his way to de-stress.
“I’ll come later,” he said, but later never came.
And just as fast as they came, the butterflies left. Was it the cold, shut door between us that caused my loneliness to surge?
Then the fights began.
“Then maybe we shouldn’t live together!” I snapped in the heat of the moment.
He looked back at me, red in the face, his brows furrowed and angrily told me, “Move out then!”
My heart sank.
I didn’t move out that day. Nor did I after the next fight, or the next one, or even the one after that, but then, I couldn’t take it anymore. About fifty RightMove tabs were scattered across my browser as a new national lockdown was announced on Halloween.
“Stay,” he said quietly as he put Bear’s pumpkin costume on.
His eyes didn’t meet mine.
“Just until the situation’s better.”
So, I stayed.
Though no words about an armistice were exchanged, we were stuck with each other for another month, and so the weapons were eventually dropped. One night, he waltzed happily into the kitchen and boiled the kettle as he did every evening before a game of Rocket League.
“Here you go.” I looked up as he put my favourite cup down, the orange Penguin Classics one. Tea?
“Oh, and here,” he said, handing me one of the Norwegian cookies I’d brought when I first moved to the UK.
I rationed them for the days I missed home. Had he noticed?
“Thank you.” He gave me a small smile and went back to the bedroom, leaving the door open.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel as homesick.
The Wednesday after, I put my cream, ruffled dress on for my weekly shop. As I put my shoes on, he leaned up against the wall and observed me from a short distance.
“You’re so pretty,” he said out of nowhere.
My heart skipped a beat. He put his shoes on and grabbed my hand. I wasn’t aware he was coming with.
On Saturday, he loudly announced his presence by stumbling through the front door with two packages, one of which said ‘HelloFresh’. It seemed lockdown had inspired the chef within.
“Prepare yourself for the best meal you will ever taste!”
I sceptically raised a brow at him, which he told me to sod off for.
“Oh also, this is for you,” he said, handing me a small package.
I hadn’t ordered anything. His eyes glittered as I carefully peeled off the black ‘amazon prime’ tape and opened the little cardboard box.
“A Minnie mouse cup?” I asked. He grinned, “Now you have one that matches mine!”
I think there was a spark.
So, after another week of homemade dinners and cups of tea, Shane got into bed with me. Then, I looked at the clock on the nightstand, it was only 11 pm, and he rarely went to bed earlier than 2 am on the weekends.
“Aren’t the boys playing anymore?” I yawned, turning around to face him.
“Oh yeah, they are.” He tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
“I just thought I’d cuddle you to sleep since you’ve struggled with it.”
I glanced up at him. How did I ever doubt us? We laid entangled in silence for another four hours.
“Hey, remember that book you read like a year ago? Withering Heights?”
He asked out of the blue the morning after. I looked up to meet his sun kissed face and messy brown locks.
“Wuthering Heights, yes, ” I corrected, to which he rolled his eyes.
“You know the quote you told me about? The one about souls?” I chuckled.
“Since when did you pay attention to anything I say about the books, sir?”
“Don’t flatter yourself, I still don’t. I just remembered that one.”
It was a nice day today. The sun was peaking in through the tiny holes in our white linen curtain. The familiarity of being tangled under the sheets with him was comforting, and suddenly I felt like I was home again.
“Whatever souls are made of his and mine are the same.”
“Yeah, that one.” His arms snaked around my bare waist and pulled me closer. Two familiar ocean blue eyes met mine, and for a faint moment I stopped breathing.
“I think it was made for us,” he whispered.
I didn’t know one could fall in love with a person twice, but during the span of lockdown, I think I did. There was the little things; when he grabbed my hand, the cups of tea I hadn’t asked for. I don’t know how he cracked it, but somehow he did.
“I’m happy I puked on your shoes three years ago,” was all I managed to say, smiling from ear to ear.
Header image credit: Celina Tran