He was on his side facing the wall. His legs, too long, tried to curl into his chest. My leg wrapped around his midsection. He turned onto his back and my leg slid, resting on the knots of his hipbones. My face in his neck and his smell in my nose.
He told me about a girl he loved. He said he wasn’t sure what to do with her feelings, how they changed and shifted. One day, he said, she loved him. He was so wrapped up in her. He understood what it meant to be loved.
What it felt like to be loved.
“Do you feel loved?” I asked him.
“Sometimes,” he said.
I always imagined that feeling loved would be someone driving out of their way to pay for the groceries when I forget my wallet. Someone doing the dishes. Putting their hands into that grey water I cringe just thinking about. Them doing this without being asked.
Love is doing the dishes.
These ideas came from Charlie Baxter’s book Saul and Patsy. Perhaps not the most likely source. When I read that passage, it just made sense to me. Loving someone, actively, is the moment in doing things for them because you know them so completely. You know, without asking, that some small action will, even unconsciously, be something.
When people do the dishes so I don’t have to, they don’t know what it means to me. They don’t know how much I hate washing dishes. They do it because they don’t mind, or they like it. They think it’s polite.
I like to watch them. I like to hug them from behind and close my eyes and imagine that I am loved.