The first thing I noticed about him was that he liked ludicrous drinks. Caramel lattes. Strawberry milkshakes. Later, I realised it was a symptom of something else: that he knew how to enjoy life. Something I needed a lesson in, maybe.
We met outside the law school building. He had a hoarse voice from the previous weekend – too much shouting at the football, he said. I had just started wearing glasses full-time, strained from all the preparatory reading I’d done. He was so languid, he barely finished his sentences.
I went into the lecture theatre before him. How could somebody be hoarse for two days following a football match?
I had no idea then who he was. That we would be here, later, much later. A mortgage, a cat. A joint bank account that sails into its overdraft on the 30th of most months that we receive texts about. When we get them, one of us will say to the other: the bank has been in touch. We have a mattress we bought last summer that we are still obsessed with. At least once a week, one of us will say to the other: I can’t believe how comfortable our bed is. We have a pantry full of Coke – at least twenty bottles – that we get free because we order so many takeaways. We have a spare bedroom lined with my novels, novels that contain him and only him, the man who has held my interest for twelve years. His uncompromising lefty-ism is Reuben from Anything You Do Say. His enjoyment of life, those strawberry milkshakes, is Marc from No Further Questions. Soon I will run out of his traits, I often think, but I never will, because he is layered like sedimentary rock. Funny. And, underneath that, a misanthrope. Underneath that, a do-gooder. Shy and outgoing. Clever and daft. Logical and pragmatic, sometimes. Well, you can’t do anything about that, he will say often. Other times, as irrational as me: we just spent £3,500 on a CT scan to find out if our cat has cancer. There was no discussion. We just did it, purchasing – hopefully – more years together where I carry the cat up to bed like a baby and we laugh at the way he washes his balls on the duvet right in front of us. Some decorum, Dave will say. The CT is worth it. But the bank got in touch.
No, I had no idea then: none. No idea on September 7th, 2006 who he was. Who he would become. Who he would be to me.