I Knew


That Valentine’s Day, I saw your face for the first time and I knew.

I was tipsy, drinking with a single friend in an empty pub, we were hoping to distract ourselves from our singleness. Not that Valentine’s Day really matters one bit but it felt appropriate to mark it, an excuse for a drink with a good friend. Someone had abandoned a single cellophane-wrapped rose on another table.

You weren’t in that empty pub. I saw your face on my phone, someone had retweeted you into my Twitter timeline. Pouting and wearing a party hat, you were sarcastically marking Valentine’s Day as a solidly single man. I can’t explain what happened next, I felt something shift in my heart. (Perhaps it was the whiskey, but I wanted to know you.)

I followed you, how could I not? I sent more than a couple of ill-advised and ill-conceived flirty tweets, hoping to catch your attention. You were more popular than me, but after two months you eventually followed me back. I wish this didn’t sound so calculating, but I had a plan. Not a proper plan with maps and diagrams and instructions, but a plan nonetheless. (I needed to meet you, I wanted to know you.)

So our conversation moved from tweets, to direct messages, to long and rambling emails about our lives. You didn’t live too far away. We found we knew the same places and the same people. We’d been brought up in similar families and grew up 12 miles from each other as the crow flies. (Why didn’t the crow tell us?) Your brother lived on a neighbouring road to my London flat, it was possible you and I had even crossed paths before. (But I think I’d have noticed you.)

We arranged to go for a drink. I tried not to get too excited, not wanting to get my hopes up like a fool. I tried to be cool, but I might as well have had a Belisha beacon on my head. (Subtlety’s never been my strong point.)

It was July and it was hot, about 30 degrees. I found myself hurrying despite the heat; I knew you were waiting at the bar we’d chosen. I got the bus, I’d never been on such an agonisingly slow journey before, nor since. I tried to swat away the feeling that I was heading towards a moment that would change my life forever. (Don’t be so ridiculous, those things are not for the likes of me.)

I made it to the bar, sweating from the bus. I saw you properly for the first time and finally felt glad of the heat because I could feel myself blushing. You were more handsome than I’d thought, and sweeter. I took in the new details, the shape of your arms, the grey flecks in your hair, your shy smile, the way your t-shirt hung from your shoulders. (I wanted to learn everything.)

We spoke for hours, moving from bar, to pub, to pub. You lived in a village without a station, so you couldn’t stay too late or you couldn’t get home. I suggested you could stay at mine, offering the sofa. Honestly though, I never expected you to sleep there. (You didn’t.)

We went back to my flat, you complimented it. (I wanted to ask you to stay, forever.)

We watched tv with the windows open, it was festival coverage and we talked about music until it was dark. You pretended to yawn and put your arms around me. I felt every cliché becoming real, like a line of falling dominos. (Every wish that I’d dared to admit to myself was coming true.)

You moved in eight months later; we’d spent almost every weekend together so there was no trepidation. That’s the nice thing about you – you’ve always been sure of what you wanted, just as I had. (Every want of mine was mirrored by yours, whether I knew it or not.)

When you asked me to marry you, I was so excited that I forgot to say yes. (I assumed you already knew.)

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