The moments in which I love you are too numerous but here are some of them. by Erin Riley

  • That time, not long after we met, when I complained that my baby pink sweatshirt had stains on it, despite my furious washing, that just wouldn’t come out. I came home from work and you told me to close my eyes and into my outstretched palms you placed the baby pink sweatshirt minus all its grotty stains. Perfectly folded. It was one of the most beautiful things anyone had ever done for me.
  • When you suggested we fuck when I got home from the shops. I hadn’t been in and out of a supermarket so fast. I came through the door of our flat to you wrapped in a towel. I placed the groceries on the kitchen bench and turned to you. You tilted your head in the direction of our room. ‘Hurry up’ it said.
  • The leftover olives. Two perfectly round crisp green ones, some salty kalamatas floating in a tiny bowl. I ate a few of the kalamatas and left one green one for you. I tell you that there are some olives left for you. I come back to a half-eaten green olive. ‘That half’s yours’ you say. Not knowing we had the same idea.
  • I was nervous on our second date. I had not seen you in three whole weeks. Three weeks that were the longest, most exciting and excruciating of my life. I walked the steps to your apartment and I stood at the front door for a moment before knocking. You opened the door in the most magnificent black outfit. We did not greet each other with words—but walked toward each other and kissed one another so tenderly for so long. It was the moment I knew that I loved you. It was the defining kiss of my lifetime. If there is a memory I will have when I am close to my end—this will be it.
  • Your hands. Hands so elegant and soft. I watch your hands in the world and I am mesmerised. There is so much kindness in those hands.
  • The December, leading up to Christmas when every morning for twelve days you would send me one of twelve perfect nudes. The advent calendar of my dreams. The photographs you’d taken on your phone at the Airbnb in between my making breakfast and going to the shop for painkillers.
  • The way, when talking to other people about me, you speak of me as they as if it was the most effortless fit. In watching you hold space for me, stretching other people’s minds while also opening yourself up for critique, love overtakes me because in this moment, I notice how much I matter.
  • The way, on finishing a book, you rise to collect your diary, rifle to its final page and add another title to the books you’ve read this year.
  • Curled up on our bed, watching a show and you mime a doorknock and I know to lift my arm so that we can be closer.
  • At some point the robot vacuum cleaner has become ‘our child’ and continues to swallow computer cables and phone chargers. I smile at you because you’ll say things like ‘our child got into the spare room’ or ‘I’ll get our child to clean the floor after dinner.’ Sometimes we hate our child and put it upside-down on the couch.
  • The drive home from Lithgow. Singing “Dreams” by Gabrielle and imagining all the songs we will play at the wedding. Also on our minds is the karaoke party. What will we sing? “Chumbawumba” I suggest. We sing—no, chant—it loudly, between smiles as wide as our love, all the way home. I park the car on the corner of our block. We unpack the car and you kiss me, tenderly, my hands at my sides, full of bags.
  • I felt faint walking up the stairs to the front door. Bags in my hands. You open the door to my face without colour and lay me down on the golden couch. With your beautiful, kind nurse hands, you count my pulse. Forty beats per minute. A vasovagal you think. You call your dad. The doctor agrees. You prop my feet upon a pillow and deliver me toast with peanut butter. You sit next to me and we laugh because I’d taken too much beta blocker.
  • Our game ‘open or closed’ where you are to guess whether my very small eyes are open or closed. It is most fun when, early in the morning the difference is a slither no thicker than an eyelash and you, devilishly, refer to my clearly open eyes as “CLOSED.”
  • Words and how they form in your mouth. Put together in combinations soft and measured. Your poetry of the everyday. You look at me, mesmerised and in wonder. After knowing so much of my story, you remind me how incredible it is that I have grown myself into the person that I am.
  • I live between my apartment and our apartment. It was once your apartment but now we share it and it is the place we call ‘home.’ I took the oversized Monstera down from the top shelf at work and it now lives in our bedroom where every few weeks you gently point out its unfurling baby leaves. We cook in our small corner kitchen and read on the golden couch in silence and sometimes we raise our heads and let our eyes speak words we don’t have. On Saturdays I take our coffee cups down the street to the cafĂ© where the Barista knows the coffees for each cup. I bring them back and place them on the side table and I put my inside pants back on and I climb back into the warmth of your arms.
  • The red-bricked corner block next to the pool. The pool where, for years, late at night I took myself to escape days spent supporting other people. A lane to myself, I would glide, up and down, with only numbers in my head. Swimming, not drowning, made beautiful. Leaving the pool I would look to the red-bricked corner block—its long windows like eyes. A dull pink illuminating the room of someone I didn’t know. I was obsessed with the red brick corner block with its lights and windows for eyes. I would gaze up into its soft face as I climbed into my car. I would say to myself: one day I’ll live there. My fantasy second home by the pool. And then I fell in love with you. You, who lives in the red bricked corner block with its windows like eyes.
  • The beach was windy the first time I fully experienced your pathological aversion to sand. You sat in the back of the car and I painstakingly wiped your feet clean with your special sand-proof towel—as if it was the greatest task anyone had ever entrusted me with. I imagined my new life as a podiatrist and you took a video of me with your feet and said it was the most loving thing I’d ever done for you. We laughed so much driving home that I had a hard time seeing the road.
  • You send me a text asking if I was in private. You wanted to send me a video you’d made. I put down my pen, got up and closed the blinds. I opened the text message and pressed play on the video. It was your toenail on the brink of collapse. I was at once disappointed—my hands had drifted into my jocks in anticipation, though I’d fast removed them in a fit of laughter. A life-time picker of toes: I’d like to have a go at that tonight I texted back. You said it was getting hard to hang on but that you would try and hold out for me.
  • Visiting Doug and Dulcie, your beautiful grandparents, in their mid-nineties and still so independent, on the hottest driest Melbourne weekend in January. We jumped into Aunt Helen’s four-wheel drive and went to the lawyers and Kmart and to test out recliner chairs at the independent equipment specialist. We sat in the mini seats up the back, teenagers again. We held hands and you mouthed I love you.
  • In the evenings, in their matching brown recliners, Dulcie would very loudly read the News’ closed captions to deaf Doug with added emphasis on the serious stories and dire weather warnings. In the mornings Dulcie would rise and prepare breakfast and Doug would emerge in his blue striped pyjamas and take the breakfast tray back into the bedroom. We would hear them loudly reciting their morning prayers wishing for a cure for coronavirus, thanking the lord for our visit, giving thanks for their new house. We caught each other’s eyes – grateful to witness such a long and lasting love. ‘I want to be like Doug and Dulcie with you in fifty years’ you say. ‘We will’ I reply.

Erin Riley is a 36 y/o queer social worker who lives in Sydney. They have worked in aged care for most of the last decade but now work as a palliative care social worker in the (in)justice system at Long Bay Prison. Erin enjoys reading, making breakfast, routines that rarely change, riding their spin bike in the garage and

working on becoming a better writer.