I’m just sayin’ hi to your answering bell
--Ryan Adams, “Answering Bell”
--Ryan Adams, “Answering Bell”
The first night I spent the night at Abraham's flat doesn't count.
The second night we woke up the next morning cold and clinging to each other.
"You are a blanket hog," I charged as I tugged a tiny corner of his comforter across my shoulder. It felt like trying to dry myself with a washcloth.
"I know you are," he sleepily responded.
"You are a blanket hog."
"No, you are," I corrected. "I like to be wrapped like a taquito, and I have this miserable little piece instead."
"I don't have any either!"
We sat up in bed and looked for the blankets. They were hanging off my side of the bed discarded. He pulled them up and stuffed them around both of us.
"Like a burrito," he chuckled. "Burritos are bigger than taquitos."
Then we had spent the night at my place. He saw my bed neatly made with the sheets tucked in at the bottom. There was an additional blanket folded across the foot of the bed for easy midnight access.
And every night since then, Abraham's sheets have been tucked in.
The third night I spent the night at his place, I woke up pressed against him.
"How old is this mattress?" I asked.
He paused, "It's a hand-me-down."
"I figured. There's a nice little divot where you normally sleep. My side feels uphill."
The next week he told me he flipped the mattress.
The fourth night I spent at his place, I sat on the edge of his bed while he got dressed for work the next morning. His job isn't like mine with flex hours and no dress code. He has to dress business casual.
He walked to his closet and pulled out a pair of trousers and stepped into them. Then he came back to where I was sitting to find his belt on the floor. I watched him thread his belt through his pants.
"Did you know that I put on my belt the opposite way? Belts, zippers and buttons on women's clothing are on the opposite side of men's clothing."
"Really? I didn't know that," he said, interested.
“Yeah, everything is on the left-hand side as opposed to the right. The premise is way back when, women didn’t dress themselves, so the fasteners are positioned for the person facing the woman.”
He stepped back. I scrunched my nose disapprovingly. "Those trousers have pleats in them. Pleats are out."
"I don't even know what pleats are," he responded dismissively. "These pants are for work; I don't care."
The next week while he got dressed, he pulled out a different pair of khakis. "I got new pants," he showed me. "No pleats."
The fifth night I spent the night at his place, I had terrible heartburn. It happens when I drink while I'm stressed. It was the kind of heartburn that was too painful for me to lay still, and I kept having to sit up while he rubbed my back.
"You don't have any Tums?" I pleaded.
"What about milk?"
"Anything with milk in it? A piece of chocolate?" I begged.
He said he would get up and go to the all-night CVS and get me some antacids if I needed it. I declined and settled on some Advil PMs that would knock me out instead.
The next week I sat Indian-style on his bed with a neatly wrapped birthday present in my lap.
"I got you a present too," he said. He reached to his desk and picked up a bottle of Tums.
"Oh! You're the best!" I clapped.
I've never had anybody listen to what I say the way Abraham does. Honestly, I don't really expect people to listen to me. Sometimes I feel like I talk just to hear the sound of my own voice; it's why I chattered about the differences in men's and women's clothing as he got dressed instead of sitting still. I didn’t know he was reacting to what I flippantly said. It was a shock each time.
One night we had run into his bedroom giggling. The ritual began. I sat on the edge of his bed. He leaned down and kissed me. “I missed you!” I gaily exclaimed. It’s something I express often, from virtual friends on gchat to Harvey. “Did you miss me?”
“You can’t ask that,” he told me in between kisses.
“I ask because you don’t say,” I responded.
“I missed you,” he relented. His voice was genuine.
His light reprimand stuck with me. Some things have to be given freely to have meaning. However my counsels at work, they remind me that it’s not what the man says that’s important; it’s his actions.
“My husband doesn’t say much, but if I say I want to go vacation somewhere, he’ll book it within the week,” my boss explained to me in the car on the way to lunch.
I sat in my seat quietly. The sheets, the flipped mattress, the khakis, the Tums. They were all quiet reactions to please me. Silent actions given freely. He hears me. And he answers.