There’s an overused quote about relationships that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think I first found it in my Tumblr — a few embarrassingly potent teen years of Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die, a battered copy of Lolita clutched close to my chest, and no doubt some pustulant pimple brewing on my T-zone. Put more romance into your friendships and more friendship into your romance. Not particularly complex, but nonetheless revolutionary. That was the first time I realised that romance doesn’t have to be reserved for whoever you’re fucking. And truthfully, the longest, happiest, and most heavenly relationships I’ve had have been with my harem of friends.
My first lockdown was spent in a relationship. We met shortly before the world was ending the first time. It started the way that many queer love stories begin — as 'friends'. Obsessed with each other from inception. Texting constantly. That awful-delicious sick feeling in your stomach, where you are only quite present when you’re around them, and exist in a daze the rest of the time. Kind of like how you only realise you’re sunburnt when you've returned home from the beach.
We broke up on her porch where we first started. Three months later and Sydney was beginning to bloom again. It was bizarre timing: the relationship just lasted the lockdown. Months spent dreaming of being able to go on a real date together and then something shifted, and it was done.
And now we’re back in lockdown again. I’ve been single for the past year, but I haven’t wanted emotional intimacy or a relationship at all. It struck me while I was snuggled up in bed laughing in the dark with a friend, when another friend left a love letter and care package on our porch, and again when my housemate made me breakfast as I worked from home. My relationships with my friends mean I have never been without emotional intimacy, connection, or affection.
We love playing at romance. Walking down the street linking arms, taking each other out on dates, sharing baths. There is a certain intimacy born from physical proximity and domesticity. Knowing the good, bad, and ugly. Cooking each other dinner when the other returns home from work. Playing the role of the homemaker. Bringing back a coffee or a treat. Collecting eyelashes off each other's cheeks. Falling asleep mid-sentence and waking up to finish the conversation together.
I’m not naive enough to think this is all I’ll ever need. I’m going to get old one day, and maybe serious too.
My best friend and I often get mistaken for a couple. When we’re in public we ham it up. Arms around each other's shoulders, hands tucked into the back pockets of the other's jeans. Whispering things to each other that could easily be said out loud. A few months ago we spent a few evenings together watching I May Destroy You, alternating between cuddling in her bed or on the couch. We now whisper to each other, "Your birth is my birth, your death is my death". There’s a smirk in our eyes but we’re serious. This love is unwavering.
Whenever I’m at a party at 4am, at a picnic, or in bed with all of my housemates, I’m often struck with an overwhelming urge to cry. For how lucky I am. For how grateful I am. To have friends who adore me just as much as I adore them. I’m not naive enough to think this is all I’ll ever need. I’m going to get old one day, and maybe serious too. I might eventually shake off this coat of optimism entirely and decide I want a partner-mortgage-dishwasher. But for now, I’m young and dumb, and mooney-eyed. And so embarrassingly in love.