In the beginning you are grateful for the little things, the toothpaste uncapped, oozing out for you to scrub out of the grooves of the laminate counter but you don’t care…you are even happy for it, along with the nightly socks on the floor.
You even find it cute when you open the fridge and the juice pitcher sits there with a thin glaze over the bottom, not so much as a swallow left for you but that‘s okay, you just make a fresh pitcher and all is well again.
Just like the many times you were home alone with no one to help when all that was left was the tissue dispenser was the cardboard centre of the toilet roll. That never happens anymore either because you have trained yourself now to automatically check before sitting down to relieve yourself.
All those cute little, endearing things, clear evidence that you are no longer alone, no longer seeking a partner in love, give you a boost that carries you all day long from home to work and back again where you clear it all up, happily making everything shiny clean before you start fixing a nice dinner for the two of you.
Like driving on a curving country road nothing prepares you for what you might encounter on the other side of the hill. You have no way of knowing because you are not yet there.
In that very same way, nothing warns you, nothing prepares you for the time when you will look at the whiskers in the sink and utter a slight sigh. A sigh so slight you won’t even notice it, it just becomes part of your daily routine like cleaning up the whiskers you are still glad to see.
Then one day you grab the full tube of toothpaste and throw it in the waste bin along with his facecloth that you wiped up the counter with. You stare at the toothpaste and the facecloth, still among the soap wrapper, used floss and paper covering from a Band Aid.
You are shocked at yourself, yet you have a flash of something, something you are trying to understand but you don’t yet know fully what it is. Shame heats your face and that’s good, you tell yourself, these are all such small things, it’s really crazy to get bent out of shape over such trivialities.
You extract the toothpaste and face cloth from the garbage and clean the toothpaste tube with alcohol before placing it back on the counter. You carry the facecloth, along with his socks and underwear from the floor, to the laundry room where you put the machine on and feel good that you can just wash it all away.
Later, it is not so easy to wash the sins away. Sins may be all relative and not my place to judge but there is one thing I know for sure. It is impossible to forget the pain of broken trust. You accept the excuses. At first. Because, after all, it’s not that bad, you tell yourself, it’s just a couple of little misunderstandings.
But the “misunderstandings” keep happening even though you’ve discussed everything to death and he says there’ll be no more broken trust. He really does sound like he means it. This time.
Then in his absence, your daily sighs escalate into full-blown curse words that you don’t even realize you are uttering with such venomous energy until the dog skitters away from you, scared he is the one being called the Goddamn Bastard.
Single life wasn’t so bad, you think, then: Single life was so bad. Life was easier before him. Life was harder before him. Things weren’t so complicated before him. Things weren’t so complicated after him.
It was so lonely before him. It is even lonelier now.
Still, you don’t want it or him to go away. You will clean the whiskers, make the juice, whatever it takes, because you finally realize what has happened. Even though it feels like you are slowly suffocating to death, you think you cannot breathe without his help, his presence in your daily life.
That’s why it comes as such a shock to you when you suddenly move out one day while he is away and discover that breathing is so incredibly easy.