One of the first moments that I realised my relationship with FP was entirely different to that of any I’d been in before was last September, when I went to France to stay with him for a week. It was the first time we had been together alone without a rowdy group of French people surrounding us, and the first time we had been together as a couple.
With other men boys, I’d desperately wanted to be looked after. I’d wanted to be taken care of, protected and treated like a precious, fragile ornament that could shatter at any given moment. I wanted to be treated with care. I wanted my happiness put first in every possible action.
Yes, it was selfish, but I was young. Anyway, the boys didn’t treat me the way I wanted to be treated, because they were thinking the same thing for themselves. They wanted to have their happiness put first. Frankly they didn’t want to compromise and neither did I.
And so the moment I felt this fierce, overwhelming urge to mother FP, to make sure he was never hurt, to protect him from all the pain that the world can cause, I knew this was something different, something new. All of a sudden I found that what I wanted more than anything else in the world was to know for sure that this man, strong and brave as he may be, would never be hurt again.
Sometimes when he comes home from work, and he’s had a hard day, I sit him down on the sofa, and hold him close to me, stroking his soft, blonde hair that smells of a mixture between baby powder and delicious musk, and holding his head against my breasts (not bosom!) like my baby. He is tired, his eyes close softly as I allow him some well earned rest. He is beautiful, lying there. He looks like an angel.
And when he has managed to unwind, and I feel the tension release slowly from his taught muscles, I plant a lingering kiss on his smooth, tanned forehead, before going to make his dinner.
He looks at me as I stand in the kitchenette; he asks me if I need help. I tell him not to move a muscle; that he must learn to relax. When I bring him his bottle of beer for the aperitif, he regards me, smiles gratefully and pulls on my hand so that I bend down slightly in order for him to kiss me. ‘I love you’, he tells me.
I love to take care of him, to make entirely sure that he’s happy. I look forward to the day when he comes home from work and I have run him a bubble bath (with a boat so that he doesn’t feel too feminine), and it pleases me greatly just to put on a wash and find his socks or shirts tangled and intertwined with my clothes, much like our two bodies when we sleep.
FP looks after me in the same caring way. He tells me he loves to wash my clothes, to hang them out to dry and to see my Snoopy pants next to his boxers.
On a Sunday, when I’ve taken my Methotrexate pills, he leads me from the bed to the sofa, carefully bringing my blankie (so what, I’m 21 and I have a blankie – don’t laugh!) and placing it on top of my limp body. He switches on the television, finds some girly programme I enjoy, before running along the road to the boulangerie to buy croissants for my breakfast.
He takes care of me as though I am his own family, and I suppose, one day, I may be part of his family. The first time he kissed me, he awoke something within me that may have been dead, or may have never been alive at all until he came into my life. He taught me how to love and he taught me how to care.
In our first week together as a couple, we took care of one another, showed each other how much we felt for one another. When I fainted in the lobby of his apartment building, he carried me inside to the privacy of his own little room, making soothing noises to assure me I was alright. He gave me orange juice and sugar and I called him my hero.
When he became frustrated in the Parisian traffic jams I calmed him down, kissed all his stress away and made him smile. I distracted him from the other connards on the road who were beeping their horns and shaking their fists. I told him terrible jokes and sang along with the radio, watching out the corner of my eye as he failed to hold his laughter in.
In that first week he lifted me over puddles so that my very un-sensible shoes wouldn’t get wet and he carried me over small walls – tiny walls – just because.
And when he spoke about painful things in his life I comforted him, all the while I was crying inside, because this man I was falling deeply in love with had been hurt and I hadn’t been there to help him through it.
Is this a part of love? I suppose it is. They say that when you fall in love you ‘just know’, but I had told myself I’d fallen in love so many times before that I was shocked by this new yearning to protect a man. I’d been taught that men didn’t need to be protected, to be comforted or kept from pain. I know the day will come when he will be upset; one girl’s love alone can not keep a man from sadness. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. I can’t help but have this powerful, fierce urge to take FP’s beautiful soul and keep it from all harm forever, and maybe that is a large part of love. Compromisation, the willingness to do anything to make the other happy, and a fierce desire to protect.
Whatever it is, I like it.