Last night, I trudged over to Christopher's to watch some bad Wednesday TV. I went over there already in my jammies because I had been feeling tired and worn down—a lot of people are work are on the cuff of getting sick.
Christopher opened the door for me and I handed him a paper sack containing my leftover dinner I brought for him and a half of a bottle of red that I brought for me. I flopped down on the couch.
"Do you want a bubble bath?" he asked me.
I sighed. A bath sounded lovely. "Yeah, maybe in a little bit," I nodded.
"I already made you one."
"You didn't!" I stood up in disbelief and checked the bathroom. There was a bubble bath waiting in the tub. I peeked my head out the door, "When did you make this?"
"About 10 minutes ago. It's still warm."
Wordlessly I walked into his New York-style kitchen and poured myself a glass of red wine and headed back to the bathroom. "See ya!" I called out behind me.
Christopher followed me in, lit a candle, and put it by the tub for me. He got me my own fresh towel and left it on the lid of the toilet seat. He flipped off the light. "See ya," he called as he shut the bathroom door.
I never complained to Christopher that I wasn't feeling well; he did that entirely on his own. As I laid in the tub, I tried to figure out his motives for doing something selfless and nice.
I pulled the plug out of the drain and got out of the tub. I looked at my jammies on the floor and wished I had clean clothes. Magically, Christopher opened the bathroom door and handed me a fresh pair of his pajama pants and a white t-shirt.
I snuggled up to Christopher on his cream leather couch. "Why did you do that?" I prodded.
Christopher chuckled. "I can be nice," he said.
"Is it because I was unshowered and you were secretly trying to get me clean?"
"No, I was doing it just to be thoughtful."
I delicately brought up the insensitive comment that brought the tears. I didn't accuse him or make him defensive, but asked why he said it. I said it really hurt my feelings.
He said he misspoke and didn't mean how it sounded. I believed him; I knew that was the explanation all along. And even though it still upset me, I like that I knew him well enough to not blow it out of proportion or strike back accusingly. It didn't turn into one of those epic battles that happened so frequently with the ex. So many of those times I felt like a bad person for contributing to those fights, but when I realized that when I'm handled in a different way, I can respond differently. When I'm not being attacked, I don't attack.
Last week and Christopher brought over his laundry to do at my apartment. It was one of the first freezes of the season and we always use the coldness as an excuse to have sleepovers.
"I brought my men's pajamas," he confessed.
"You have man jammies?!" I shrieked. "I love man jammies!"
"Yeah, they are the kind that matches."
I got so excited my voice became a high-pitched whisper. "I LOVE matching man jammies!"
He put them on so he could wash the clothes he was wearing. Sheepishly, he walked back into the living room sporting his blue plaid matching man jammies. His belly poked out slightly and he looked about 54 in them. In my mind I pictured him wearing the blue plaid matching man jammies in our living room in winter as a family with children surrounding us when he was actually 54. In that moment I thought that I loved him. The power of matching man jammies is strong.
How do you know when you love someone? I know that seems a silly question to ask at 28, but I think in the past my idea of love has been somewhat skewed and unhealthy. And when I think about it, I've never had healthy love modeled for me. My dad left for another woman when I was little. My memories of their marriage consist of me sitting on the top of the stairs with my brother and listening to them scream at each other. I was too young to know what they were saying. Then my mother married this other man, and we know how that turned out. In my diaries when I was 9, I wrote that mommy married him to give me a daddy and that she was unhappy and getting divorced. I knew that 20 years ago. I've never even lived with a roommate that was in a happy committed relationship. I don't know how healthy things are supposed to be and it makes me question myself a lot.
I know that when I'm with him, I feel almost intoxicated. Days in which I get to see him, he's the highlight of my day. I feel all squishy inside when he looks at me gently. The affection that I once complained that I didn't get enough of is bountiful.
And I realize there is a stage in a relationship in which everything is gooey and rose scented. And I know that's probably when I am. I guess I want to know about real, lasting, we're-fighting-but-we'll-work-it-out, relationship love. My mom says I'm due for another therapy appointment to work some things out. I don't want to spend $45. So I'm asking you, Internets. How do you know when you love someone?
Is it man jammies? Or is it love?