We sat beside each other in our self-made cocoons. Wrapped tightly in routine and habit, neither of us spoke. I don’t want you to imagine it was a quiet scene – no, there was noise all around us. The dialogue from that show that we could never get into, but was always on when nothing else was, played one-note background music. The neighbors below caught my attention every few minutes, as I wondered what closet door they were shutting, or why they didn’t take their shoes off at the door. Our dog snores a bit, too. So, no, it wasn’t quiet. But we were.
We didn’t move, he and I. Until, like premeditated choreography, on cue we rose from our spots on the couch. He took the dog out, and I started the shower. Soon, we were saying good night.
We went on this way for weeks, maybe even months, I’m not sure. Ritualistic greetings, habitual questions, and the routines of life marked our days. Like the teacups at the fair, we moved with all the appearance of unpredictability, but we were on a track moving in the same circles, never diverting from course.
Please don’t think we were unhappy; we weren’t. We were perfectly content in the rhythms we had charted out for ourselves. But I also don’t want you to think we were happy; we weren’t. We were just, well, nothing. We said nothing, felt nothing. And the nothingness swelled between us. Like train tracks being pushed apart, we always ran parallel with the space between us growing.
The farthest distance between two lovers is indifference, you know.
As the teacups rounded the bend again and we sat on the couch that way we always did, watching that show that’s always on, he broke the silence. “I love you, you know,” he said, putting a crack in his cocoon. “You will always be my best friend, and there will never be anyone else for me. If you die, you will always be my one.”
And I sat there, surrounded by the shroud of schedule and routine, and just sat there. I sat there thinking how normal this was moment was, and how odd it was that he said those words; thinking how everything else was happening on cue, but this. How this changed nothing, and everything.
And my cocoon started to crack, too. I couldn’t think of any words that would adequately respond, but said, “I love you back.” So we sat there together. Not just beside each other, together. You wouldn’t know the difference by looking at us, but our whole world changed by his choice to say those worlds. Choice: that was the difference. He chose me. In that very normal moment, in that rut of a routine, he chose me. And it has made all the difference.