What Matters

He told me we were escaping the house for a night. Staying at a hotel so we could, hopefully enjoy both the calm and each other away from the usual hubbub of loud housemates and walls which, to give you an example of how thin they are, once allowed me to deduct not just that our housemate in the next room was watching Family Guy but also the exact episode he was watching.

So I went off to work with a little spring in my step – not to mention, a rather optimistic bottle of Sliquid in my backpack.

I say optimistic because the next few hours kinda managed to wreck me just a little bit. It wasn’t so much work as it was the bit after. Let me set the scene for you, and please don’t forget at all times to picture the nipple-achingly, ear-freezing February cold which acted as the environment for this.

Me, wobbling to the bus stop with feet throbbing and back groaning. Bus stop crowded with people waiting for the same bus, something I know for a fact as this is what always happens on a Saturday evening. This, and the fact that this bus – scheduled to run every 6 to 10 minutes – has seemingly gone invisible. Other busses come – in fact, three consecutive busses to the same destination arrive in short order – but mine does not. I am using my backpack and a shop window as a makeshift seat because there is none there.

Finally, my bus materialises, prompting the older guy standing next to me to merrily declare “It’s coming! It’s coming!” before accidentally punting me in the face with his bag as he walks forward. I mutter darkly, committed to shrugging it off as fast as possible, and send ILB a text as I settle on the first of two busses.

The bus ride to the station where I am due to get the bus to the hotel takes about ten minutes. The wait for bus two, in the freezing cold of the bus station with absolutely no indication as to when this bus is coming, takes about forty years. Or at least it feels like that because cold plus linear time progression equals a mightily big headfuck. Twenty minutes feel like an hour. My teeth are clattering and I can’t really feel my fingers. The woman who sits down next to me, blowing warm air into her hands and shivering, gives me a knowing look as the bus we’ve both been waiting for arrives for its check-ups before going back the other end of the route. We both will it on, her silently, me loudly.

Once on the bus, I send ILB another text. And another, when we get stuck in a minor traffic jam. And another because it suddenly occurs to me that I have no idea how long I’ll be on this bus for. Tired. Weary of bones and dark of mind. Concerned because halfway through the tannoy stops announcing where we are and I can’t see anything through the fogged up windows.

As we get nearer and nearer and the time ticks further and further away, I feel a sort of despair growing deep in me. It settles in my gut when I finally get to the stop where I need to be, and start walking to the hotel. I’m beyond tired – so wrecked that the thing that’s keeping me alert (apart from the cold) is me pinching my house key into the pad of my thumb. I break into several little runs to cross to the right side of the road, running again when through the weary haze I briefly become convinced I’m being followed.

I say it’s an optimistic bottle of Sliquid because we don’t end up having sex that night. But it doesn’t actually matter. What matters is the feeling of finally walking through the door of that hotel. What matters is spotting him behind the keycarded doors, knocking and seeing his face and all those little things that had accumulated in the past hour and a half falling off me as he pulls me to him. What matters is that, despite my silly comments and moaning, this man accepts me into his arms and leads me to our room for the night, where a small box of chocolates sits on top of a card and next to a pack of Oreos.

What matters is him. He accepts me for who I am, loves me because of it and not in spite of it. He feels no shame about my disabilities or my mental health. He does these little things like buy me a pack of Oreos because he “felt like bringing out his inner J’onn J’onzz” and he knows that’ll fill me with giggly glee because we’re just two giant nerds who found each other and love each other like Martian Manhunter loves his bloody Oreos.

And I love him so much. Freezing cold and tired feet be damned. We may not have sex that night but as our naked bodies meet under the covers, his warmth making me glow again, I feel at home even away from home.

That’s what matters.

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