I love you, just not what you’re into.

Since we nearly broke up a few months into our relationship after I told my Lord of The Rings loving boyfriend (JK) that ‘I didn’t care for fantasy’ I’ve made a concerted effort to champion his interests while remaining detached and uninvolved. Like he’s really into historic drama TV shows – Vikings and Hell on Wheels type stuff. Sometimes he even insists we watch them together so I try and make a game of it, guessing how far into an episode I’ll see a woman’s breast, or her rape or perhaps her sale to a wealthy landowner.

He’s also really into reading books about dogs, which is cool, if that’s your sort of thing but he thinks I should read them as well so I can get a better understanding of our staffy. But I’m not sure how much reading is going to solve the issue that our dog, who is so in love with JK, will one day kill me in my sleep, proceed to make a Lou suit out of my skin and resume her rightful place on the pillow beside him.

Anyone in a relationship will admit it’s hard to like all the things your partner does, well unless you’re these guys…

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…and while it’s great to share interests and be introduced to new ones, there comes a time, let’s say past 30 where you just think ‘fuck it’. I mean most of us spend our 20s pretending to like things we don’t in order to get laid or not die alone, so why, as I head into my late 30s should I continue the charade? After all, don’t all of us die alone?

This leads me to where my preamble has been heading – gardening. Yep, gardening.  My boyfriend is really into gardening. He loves it. He’d be a gnome if he could be, complete with short man syndrome and pointy little hat, but alas he is 6’1 and refuses to wear a waistcoat, even though I think it would be totally cute, but whatevs.

Myself, I’m not into gardening.  Never have been and at 36 unless I’m struck by a bolt of lightening and wake up from a coma as a totally different person I never will.  Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good garden as much as the next person, some of my best friends garden but I’m more of an applauder than a performer when it comes to a good mulch or a well watered vegie patch. I love that in my yard I have a slew of burgeoning red cabbages, spring onions I can always count on, sprigs of thyme perfect for soup and even a passionfruit tree. I love that there are pots of flowers all over my house, mainly all gifts I’ve received over the years from JK, and only alive due to his efforts, though my ongoing disinterest in their welfare has made it touch and go on occasion.

But what I love most of all – I’m not responsible for any of it.

And so it was, that on Melbourne Cup Day, I found myself dressed in flannel and a 80s vintage jumpsuit, reading instructions on the side of a bag of fertiliser that assured me it would not burn my eyes, playing gardening assistant to JK, or apprentice as he liked to say. We were planting tomatoes because that’s what you do on Melbourne Cup Day, that and kill horses for sport.

He had requested my company. Said it would be fun. It would be my job to hand him things, fill buckets with things and control the afternoons music selection. One of those things I did with great abandon, the other two, I did somewhat half assed. To be fair he had offered me a way out earlier in the day, suggesting he fix up the hammock so I could read but I was tired of being cast of the bad witch from Wicked in our relationship, so I insisted on helping. My ego thwarting me once more.

We gardened for what seemed like days, no months. Winters came and went, summers were cruel, the springs a welcome break from the intense labor that came with handing JK a watering can at varying intervals and clipping off bits of twine to secure the vegetation. It was exhausting, soul destroying. I think I lost a piece of myself that day…

I was about to give up, walk away, perhaps get lost on the way back to civilisation and Foxtel on Demand and starve to death in our driveway when JK suddenly turned around, smiled, running a well calloused hand through his beard. ‘Thanks for today’ he said ‘I know you don’t like gardening, but I really like getting to spend time with you. It’s been nice.’

With such crippling accusations levelled at my feet I realised he was right. I do not like gardening, that day being no exception, but there is something I like more – spending time with JK, watching him do something he enjoys, so I smiled back in a way that communicated ‘I love spending time with you too, but no, we’re not watching The Hobbit after this.’
There’s only so few compromises I was willing to make that day.

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Can’t shag someone without them noticing…

The last time I fell in lust with someone was entirely inappropriate. He was my flatmate, his name was Nathan and to make matters even more embarrassing he was changing a light bulb at the time. Ok, so maybe this moment had been entirely inevitable upon looking back; we were both enthusiastic members of the ‘We love cheese’ club, making fun of people who wore white denim and we lived together, it was cold, the boiler was constantly breaking and maybe if I’m honest neither of us had been able to sustain a functioning relationship since meeting one another. Looking back some substantial ground work had been laid, but that’s only if I’m being honest with myself and I’m a big fan of denial so lets move on.

We’d just bought a new lampshade (and before you ask, this one was only a little bit gay) and the light bulb broke. No rhyme or explanation, but it was definitely broken and so as Nath reached up, supporting himself on our obnoxious glass coffee table (long story), his t-shirt rode up exposing a hint flat snail trail (this was not a proud moment) and suddenly I knew I had a problem and there was only one solution – now, I’m the first to admit that the better idea would’ve been to have moved out thus saving our beautiful platonic existence but at the time I only ever saw one option, one solution to my problem – there were an awful lot of things in our flat suddenly breaking and falling apart and so my solution was to encourage Nathan to become my local handyman. My theory was that maybe if I over indulged in flat maintenance, then just like chocolate it would lose it’s charm and thus everything would return to normal.

When the front door fell off I blamed ‘the junkies’, when the phone jack was ripped from the wall, I blamed ‘the gay’ – our flatmate David, when the sink collapsed into itself it was ‘global warming’, and there I was every time with a step ladder within arms reach and advice on how best to fix the problem. To say this was a bonding experience would be to lie. We constantly fought as a result of his inadequate handy man ways (I never said he was any good, he came from the school of thought that a well placed staple could solve any problem). There was no way I was going to play the little woman and so instead of reaffirming his masculinity with ‘oh my, you’re so amazing Nathan, the way you unstuck the window in the kitchen, you’re such a strong man’, it was more like ‘oh look at you oil a creaky hinge, oh you must think you’re king shit and I’m such a helpless lady because I know nothing about cupboard lubrication, well sod you!’ – by my own admission I went a little overboard, but I didn’t want him thinking for a moment I was enjoying this or liked him – I’d lose all my power.

As you might imagine our constant bickering made life a little uncomfortable for our other flatmate David, not to mention that it appeared that his whole flat was collapsing around him with little explanation, and so it happened over one to many bottles of Sav Blanc one night, amidst the plaster boards and tools scattered in our lounge room that I confessed my guilty little secret to him, and that if I couldn’t get control of this overwhelming urge to jump my flatmate we’d more then likely be looking at a minor flood taking over our flat. The seriousness of the situation could no longer be ignored and so David agreed to help, all I had to do was leave everything to him.

The next day in the midst of Nathan and I sitting on opposite side of the living room, trying to act that was the normal way to have a conversation, David popped his head in and commented that something in the bathroom needed to be repaired. He winked at me as both Nathan and myself bolted the bathroom. The bathroom was a wreck. The shower curtain was ripped and on the floor, the shower rail had been pulled from the door. I turned to David and seeing the look on his face I knew I’d been set up. ‘I was having sex with Troy this morning and let’s say we really need more grip on that shower rail. When you two finally admit you want to f*(k each others brains out you’ll be singing my praises for pointing this out’ and with that he left. ‘Gee, this is uncomfortable’ remarked Nathan as he reached down and picked up his torn Arsenal towel ‘do you think I can ask him to get me a new one?’. ‘Oh shut up!’ I yelled as I ran out of the bathroom, grabbed the last packet of chocolate biscuits and took to my bedroom. I would not leave my room for 4 days.

There was now no other option; I had to move out. I know it seemed to some like I was avoiding the issue, but now having resorted to using wet wipes to clean myself I didn’t really see any other way out. By day four Nathan came knocking at my door. He suggested we should talk, but I knew that when he said ‘talk’ he really meant he wanted to present me with a series of lectures on the objectification of men and why that can destroy perfectly healthy platonic relationships. I left my room, shirking to the lounge room, defeated. Christ he’d even made me dinner – I didn’t need his sympathy, how dare he condescend me as he ran his hand down my back, underneath my jumper – what was he doing now? Checking for lumps? The humiliation was crippling, why wouldn’t he just come out with it – ‘hey Lou, I just think of you as a mate’…if he’d just stop running his hand up my tracksuited thigh, but then something felt wrong, really wrong – I just couldn’t do this. I stopped. I stood up and made my way over to the book cabinet, took a deep breath and then smashed it into the coffee table. Now I was ready. Awesome.

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