We’re just having a little conversation to fill the space between us. It is small talk to begin with – meant to open a dialogue about bigger things after greeting.
You describe to me the apartment you live in, leaving out no detail. I walk with your words as you speak them. A hand brushes against each wooden surface, near the door, the paneling of the frame, over the books that don’t gather dust despite their quantity. You must read them often. I don’t linger on their titles because you don’t.
You mention the doorway into the living room, open plan, a window casting light onto the almost empty coffee table in the middle. One magazine sits there: Dumbo Feather. A sculpture, too. The sun light in the roof beats down onto the sculpture and lights it perfectly as if you had curated an exhibition of minimalist art.
I take my shoes off at the door – I assume this is a bare foot household. I don’t know why I assume that. I flex my toes on your wooden floor, put the weight of my body onto the soles. No carpets yet warm to the touch. It is cosy in this place; perfectly sized for one person to feel safe. I imagine myself sharing it with you. Being invited into your retreat. Sometimes too small. Sometimes frostiness between us because of the walls. Mostly perfect for intimacy. Curled up into each other on the couch that feels like a cloud.
You move to the kitchen and so I follow. It is small, clean. Tidy. I move my eyes to the sink above which you explain a glass vase holds some flowers. I don’t know what type of flower and you do not elaborate. Light green tiles frame a bay window. Gas, not electric. Best for cooking you tell me.
Outside the window you make the best of a bad situation: hanging plants on the tattered brick wall that separates your neighbour’s home from yours. There is no backyard to speak of. The kitchen bench is cool and continues the green theming. No clutter anywhere. I wonder if you have any, anywhere. In your house or in your life. The fridge is bare stainless steel, no magnets, no bills to pay.
The bathroom next – small again, but perfectly practical, like an IKEA wet dream. Everything stored, upright, packed away. Despite that, your home doesn’t seem unlived in. It seems inviting. Packaged and waiting. It seems right.
Your bedroom, upstairs, is a loft. The ceiling is low and sloped towards the window at the head of your bed. The stair case that leads there is wooden and springy. It creaks on the third step. I imagine a romantic path up those stairs. Falling over each other and laughing into our shoulders. Stopping to kiss when gravity shows which step is most comfortable.
The warmest part of the house is the loft bedroom, you say. The morning sun comes through that circle window above two pillows and a quilt. I can’t help but imagine your naked body sprawled across that bed with the sun on your back. You are olive skinned and your hair is shinier than I ever thought possible in that sunlight. It sounds like some sort of adult version of Play School but I don’t mention that. I ask if it gets too warm in summer and whether that’s unbearable: do you sleep downstairs?
You tell me that that’s when you stay at your girlfriend’s house. She has an air conditioner. You joke that your house is lived in for three seasons of the year and hers the fourth. She’s got a big place with four housemates. Her house is full of instruments and photos and artworks and laughter and noise and they wear shoes inside. They have two cats.
I’m confused by the stark contrast of two opposing aesthetics. I ask how you manage to move from ordered, loft living to a shared household like the one described. You tell me it’s not about the house or the aesthetics. You tell me it’s about who’s in the space; the company. I concede. No-one would seriously fall in love with a house.