We first decided that we knew what love is when we were both around eight years old
and we were on our bikes and you yelled, “Do you love me?” and I said, “Fuck yes!”
and you giggled and you said, “Don’t say the eff word, I hate it when you say the
eff word,” and I said, “But I love you – you have to accept me for everything that I
am,” and you smiled and said OK and we kept riding, and when we got home I proposed
to you and you said yes, and we got married in front of your cat.
We both decided that we knew what love is when we were teenagers and we watched
Jerry Maguire at home when nobody was around and there was a scene where Tom Cruise
was humping a woman against a bookshelf. “Should we try this?” you asked and I said,
“You had me at hello,” and you held my hand and told me that you wanted a cute
little kid like the kid in the movie and I said, “You can have anything you want,”
and deep inside I secretly hoped that our kid would be nothing like me.
We both found out what love is when you found someone else. You told me that he’s
cute and that he has a car and doesn’t get angry like I do and that now you know
what a real boyfriend is like. You no longer called me back or told me that you
missed me like you used to and I couldn’t sleep and I bought you flowers and told
you, “I love you! I love you!” and you screamed, “Now you tell me! Now you tell me!
After all these years you never told me, you never bought me flowers, not once!” and
I threatened to punch the shit out of you and you said, “Go on, hit me, go on, hit
me, go on, I hate you! Hit me!” and I didn’t remind you about the time when we were
eight years old.
We both found out what love is when we became responsible for money: we had to focus
on our university studies and we then had to focus on our jobs and we then had to
focus on our bills. I confessed to my girlfriend that I’d cheated on her, and her
shoulders relaxed and she confessed that she’d cheated on me too, but even so we
still hooked up once in a while when we were lonely and drunk or felt insecure; this
kept happening until she thought that she was pregnant and didn’t know who the
father was and she became a lesbian and I sort of didn’t hear from her again. That
didn’t matter, because by then all my friends and I wanted to do was to find hot
girls to get into threesomes with. Sometimes I’d call you and tell you about my day
and about the girls in my life and sometimes you’d call me and tell me about your
day and about the boys in your life and from how you’d describe your sex life with
them I’d think: I’m so glad I never ended up with you.
We both found out what love is when we realised that love wasn’t just about romantic
love. I focused on getting promoted and learning the guitar on the internet and you
focused on travelling all over the world and meeting interesting new people and
learning new languages. One day I saw a video on the news of a woman being stoned to
death and something about it struck me and I donated all of my savings, for some
reason, to a cancer fund. Then there was a death and I was fired from my job. I
began drinking with what little money I had left and spent weeks reading books in my
room. You called and told me that you were engaged, and I got out of my rut and
began applying for jobs overseas.
We both found out what love is when you started a family and I walked up to a girl
in a cocktail party and asked her how she knew Leah. The girl and I talked for about
ten minutes and I got her business card and the next day, after watching some porn
(twice), I emailed her and we kept emailing until we finally met up for dinner and
at the end of the night she smiled coyly and asked, “Is this a date?” and we kissed
exactly like how we kissed the countless other dates we’d had in the past. I knew
everything by then: what CDs to play in the background, how to unclasp a bra from
behind or from the front, how to casually ask the girl if she was STD-free and had
proof of a recent blood test, what kind of smell she’d have, what kind of goofy
things you can do in bed to make her giggle, how she’d look the morning after, how I
would look the morning after. One evening you called me and told me how much you
loved your son and your husband and, tears in my eyes, I told you that I was happy
for the both of us: you were married to a wonderful man and I was married to a
We both found out what love is when I bumped into you somewhere very Hollywood and
very cliché: a café bookshop. You’d certainly aged and gained some weight but you
made me laugh and I missed you nonetheless. You told me endless stories about your
husband and your son and your dog and I didn’t know what to say, so I talked about
my career, some people at work, about how I go to the gym three times a week. You
put your hand on mine and said, “You’ll find her, you will,” and, looking straight
at you, I told you, “Are you fucking blind?” and you giggled and said, “Don’t say
the eff word, I hate it when you say the eff word,” and I asked you if you still
liked to ride bikes in parks.
My name is Dean Blake.
Read more of my work at generationend.com