Before I met boyf, I spent a lot of time riding solo. A lot of time. And I remember the way that I thought that relationships played out. I’d see couples on social media, and coupling around in real life, and I’d make up things about their perfect relationship. It got me thinking about whether people make up things about our relationship, about perception versus reality, and how vastly these things differ.
Let’s start with grocery shopping…
Perception: You go shopping together, either in smart/casual attire, or sports luxe – just whatever the mood of the day calls for. You park in the middle of the car park, you walk into Pak n Save hand and hand (or is it hand in hand?), you grab a trolley and you sashay around the supermarket, canoodling and giggling, and doing the “catch babe!” as you throw the non breakables to each other.
You get to the counter, and one of you (not me) loads the conveyor (heavy stuff first), while the other (me) packs as the efficient (but not too speedy) operator carefully places items into the trolley. You split the bill meaning that the groceries cost half what they did when you were single and shopping alone.
Reality: You very rarely shop together, because one of you (not me), thinks that the other (me) takes too long in the supermarket and chooses things that are too expensive, and blows the budget (budget? What budget?).
If you do shop together, you disagree about where to park the car, and one of you (not me) parks so close to a tree/puddle/car that the other (me) has to climb out the driver’s side. You both want to push the trolley. One of you (not me) buys the same things every week (chicken, kumara, broccoli, capsicum, courgettes, oats and yoghurt), and the other (me) has forgotten the list with the 117 other things that the household needs to function.
You get to the counter and one of you (not me) will throw everything on the counter willy nilly, while the other (me) will be rushing back to the bulk foods section to get chia seeds. The groceries will be thrown into the trolley by the check out operator, and one of you (not me) will insist on buying (more) plastic bags, while the other (me) argues that using a box would be better for the environment.
You get to the car (parked right out front after 16 laps of the carpark) and one of you (not me) packs the groceries into the bought bags standing by the boot, and the other (me) suggests that it would have been much better to do this in store – using a box.
Quiet Nights In
Perception: You sit on the couch together with your feet on the big ottoman (with more than enough room for four calves and four feet), the fire is going, the lights are off, you’re both sipping a nice red, the TV is on, you’re watching a movie that you both want to see. You’re wearing an oversized sweater and skinny jeans in a single digit size, he’s wearing a ‘v’ neck sweater and a nice pair of chinos. You’ve done your hair and you’ve got enough make up to hide your dark circles and hyperpigmentation, but claiming that you’re bare faced.
Reality: You think about lying on the couch, but there’s not enough room. One of you (me) is crocheting, so the other (not me) lies down – on the yarn. The light needs to be on so one of you (me) can see the stitches, and the other (not me) likes it to be dark at movie time. There is no ottoman. There is no red wine. One of you (me) is hating the zombie movie that the other (not me) picked, because “you’re going to be crocheting anyway”.
One of you (me) is wearing the other’s sweatshirt with your fat pants, only because the other got to their drop crotch track pants first. One of you (not me) is wearing grey on grey, and socks with holes in them. Not small holes, big holes.
One of you (not me) is inhaling ice cream, and the other (me) is daintily eating Little Island Coconut Dessert. One of you (not me) consumes an entire tub of ice cream, and when the other (me) leaves the room, that one eats the rest of the Little Island also.
Perception: You’re both thrilled to be going away, on the road again, me and you, you and me. The time immediately preceding departure is relaxed and calm, bags are packed and loaded in a timely fashion, and everyone chips in to prepare refreshments so that there is no reason to stop every 15 minutes.
You sing in the car, and you hold hands, and talk about life and love and loss. Road trips are the best!
Reality: One of you (me) gets motion sickness, and the other (not me) has a Tourette’s like twitch in their foot which makes them drive in the same pulsing motion as an immigrant taxi driver on the Gold Coast.
One of you (not me) wants to listen to Chris Brown and Ja Rule, and the other one (me) wants to listen to something less synthetic with a bit of substance. Add in a nine year old who wants to listen to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande or Ke$ha, and chances are someone will be sulking for at least part of the trip.
One of you (not me) has an insatiable thirst and needs to stop every 20 minutes for a drink, which means that one (still not me) needs to stop every 20 minutes to urinate. Drinking and urinating stops very rarely coincide.
One of you (not me) panics if the fuel tank drops below ¼ full, and insists that the other (me) Google how long to the next town to figure out if we will make it. Even when one of you (me) assures the other (not me) that ¼ of a tank will get us the 15km to the next Z Station, the other will still turn off the air con, the radio, and start off loading cargo, to ensure that we don’t freeze and/or starve to death on the side of S.H.3.
Perception: Bed time is your favourite time of the day. The house winds down slowly, dishes are done, benches are wiped and living rooms are tidied. Bed time is a place for pillow talk when you discuss the highlights and lowlights of your day. You both have similar specifications when it comes to pillows and mattresses and ambient temperatures.
Bed time is when you make plans for the future and decide on the names of your potential offspring. You discuss what colour curtains you should put in the dining room. Life is good.
Reality: One of you (not me) falls asleep on the couch by 9pm (at the absolute latest), and complains that the other (me) stays up too late. The other (me) makes the most of that one (not me) being asleep, and finishes off some crochet projects.
One of you (not me) wakes up and grumbles about how late it is, and advises that they’re going to bed. The other (me) finishes their row (or maybe two rows), and then turns off the TV, and all the lights that one of you (not me) left on – which is all of them (every single one).
One of you (not me) twitches and convulses and talks in their sleep, making each night pleasant and peaceful for the other one (me). That sleep chat though, that can wait for another day.