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Degrees of Loneliness

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Your life is full of anonymous excitement, strangers making eye-contact, and more, wherever you go – all of it recounted to me as though in the telling you find another triumph.

My life – in your presence your laughter and insults thrill me until I am flushed with heat and longing.

Your scent, your clothes, are top of the range, designer label, lovingly chosen and exquisitely worn.

Mine – are the ones I like, mismatched sometimes, cheap, perhaps – no, definitely – not so stylish, but true to myself.

Your time is spent on whatever pleases you; “no ties, no responsibilities” your mantra, your belief.

My time is full of errands for mum, listening to the problems of friends, unreasonable demands from work. Unreasonable demands from you – but I have never minded those, needing the proof that you think of me at all.

Your flat is pale, minimalist, fifty shades of white perfectly maintained by anonymous hands.

Mine is a cocoon of deep, rich colours, filled with the clutter of years, the accumulated detritus of enthusiasms, and cleaned – well, the parts that show – when it is truly urgent.

Your flat could have been furnished by designers, perfect, exquisite, expensive – no trace of anything that pre-dates the move here eight months ago, the sofa beautiful and uncomfortable, the flat-screen huge and state of the art – and virtually unused.

Mine has been my home, my refuge, my bolthole when the pain is too much for a decade – and it shows, in the sagging of the sofa, the scratches on the table, the worn buttons on the tv remote.

Your flat is a true shag-palace; the bed with its silk sheets sees night after night of action, man after man has the time of his life – and in the morning they leave, you kick them out, and forget their names, if you even bothered to ask.

Mine is homely, my bed cosy, flannelette, comforting to share with a friend who needs a place to stay, or to snuggle with one of those rare boyfriends of mine. You don’t know their names, either.

Your flat hosts an occasional party, a string of one-night stands. Me, when you need hangover cures bringing.

Mine – a string of friends dropping by, and an occasional – rare – boyfriend. You, when you’re bored.

Your flat is big, spacious, echoing – a loft, I suppose, in the trendiest meaning of the word.

Mine is small, and seems smaller, an attic huddling under the eaves, dormer windows that I must bend to see from, ceilings inconveniently low.

Your flat is silent, empty of life when you are not there.

Mine has always the bubble of the fish-tank, and even if they do not answer when I greet them, they are a living presence, dependent on me.

Your flat is warmth and laughter and happiness to me – because you are there.

Mine is cold and desolate as I lie alone, thinking of you, and wishing that one day I will be good enough for you.