I am at the computer. I’m standing but bent over. It’s not the most comfortable position but, given the lack of anything I could use as a chair, it’s the best I can do.
The screen springs to life, suddenly showing the background at the same time as it makes the sound. Great. The usual Skype message comes up. It should be upgraded but it’s not mine to do. I tell it to continue anyway. I select the Skype account I want to use. Best Mate may be online.
I go type in the password but nothing happens when I type. Then there is a new window that comes up. I don’t really read the screen so don’t know what it says. I am busy trying to get into Skype. As I am closing this very annoying window, I notice something about Bluetooth. As it closes, I realise that this keyboard has no connection lead to the computer and, therefore, must be Bluetooth.
I need to find this window again. This utility. I start searching. the problem, other than I don’t really know Macs that well, is that it is an Italian machine and everything is in Italian, of course. I go for Finder, since the icon I would use on my machine is not in the right place (or, rather, non-existent) on this computer. I look for the obvious thing. Something called Bluetooth or Connections or something similar.
On the way to finding this I see some things that I have an urge to see. Some photos; some other things. I resist the urge. It would be like spying; like looking into a private diary; like reading a blog that you’re not supposed to know about (whoops!). I want to and don’t want to at the same time. I don’t want to more than I want to and so I don’t. I give myself a self-congratulatory pat on the back for being good. It makes me feel good even if I am still intrigued. But I have no reason to doubt and, therefore, this is something that should be left alone. But, still……
I don’t find what I want. I close down the computer.
I switch on the computer again. The same window/utility appears…..eventually. I am right! The keyboard is not being ‘seen’. I look at the keyboard. I see that there is a screw thing at the side and open it to find batteries inside. I know this was all working as he had used it a day or two before when he proved that the telephone line had been installed and everything (including ADSL) was functioning. I decide that, maybe, one of the batteries is to blame. But there are no more batteries that I know of. And, so, I swap the two from the mouse (which IS working), taking two from the keyboard in exchange.
I try all again. No difference, although the mouse still works. It is unlikely to be one battery. I look all over the keyboard, eventually pressing, by accident, the switch that turns the keyboard ‘on’.
Everything now works but a) I am standing and b) I have almost had enough and so, instead of writing a blog post, I play ‘the bloody game’.
The men arrive with the wardrobe and bed. I don’t really like them. I was hoping for the three that came to my place. That would have been just fine. I don’t really trust these guys. I smoke and am aware that the smoke seems to fill the flat much more quickly than it does mine. I think about the time, in the very near future, when we are here, at the computer together or watching a DVD or sitting on the brand-new, white, all-(simulated/something)-leather sofa – smoking and it being difficult. This worries me.
The windows are slightly open, as they always are. I notice that, the flat, seemingly so warm every time I have entered, seems quite cold after a couple of hours. This may not be so good.
The men finish with the wardrobe. Well, not quite. I do not know what the man says but I think he says that he has another set of drawers and where should they go? I don’t know. I knew where the wardrobe was to go, I had asked F the night before but the second set of drawers? I phone him and get no answer. He is working, of course. The men need an answer as they are now building the bed (which won’t take long). I send a text explaining that I need an answer and hoping that he has the phone on him.
He calls me. They should be shelves and not a set of drawers. I realise I could have got it wrong. I say yes they are shelves – hoping that I am right. But where are they to go? He tells me they are to go in the middle part, above the set of drawers, equally spaced. I tell the guys. They tell me what they can do. I tell them that is OK.
They finish. There is some discussion about the payment that is to be made. I cannot pay him the exact money as I don’t have 33 cents. He has no change. I know that, in the UK, there would be no money given to the delivery/installer people and I wonder at how this can possibly work properly in Italy.
I change what I have given him. Now all he has to do is give me 17 cents change. He only has a 20 cent coin. I explain that I don’t have the 3 cents to give him and that it’s my money we’re talking about (he already knows that it’s not my house, nor my furniture).
He huffs and puffs. But, reluctantly gives me the 20 cents. I don’t care. I’ve noticed that the guy in the supermarket that I thought was a good guy regularly charges me for an extra plastic bag. I don’t go to his till any more. It’s only 4 cents but the Italians, with the old lira in mind, take less notice of the small coins. I am English and I don’t.
When they have gone I decide that the room is really smokey. I have only had about 5 cigarettes but I know that F won’t like it and so I open the window wide in the lounge and the bedroom to try and get rid of it. There is no breeze and so no air through the flat and so it doesn’t disperse.
I get much colder though and, from a starting point that is quite cold, this is not pleasant. I have texted F to say that everything is fine and that I would go and do some shopping and go home shortly. I also added that I would come back to the flat whenever he wanted as, of course, I have the keys!
I close the windows and the shutters. The smoke still seems to hang in the air. I know my sense of smell is terrible. I go out of the flat and come back in. I can still smell it. If I can smell it, I muse, then it will be a hundred times worse for him.
But I cannot stay. Or, rather, I cannot stay and not smoke!
Later he phones. He is still at the office. He has got the company car tonight. He will go and collect his clothes and take them to the flat. I offer my help. He says that I have done enough already (having taken a day’s holiday to be at the flat for his wardrobe and bed). I reply that it is really no problem and I really don’t mind.
All this is true. All this is in my interest. And, anyway, it means we are together and I am helping him and it makes me feel good. And, also, I want to be there when he opens the flat door – to see the reaction to the smokey smell, for I feel as guilty as hell. And I have weird thoughts that go through my mind like a) he won’t want me in the new flat or b) he will insist that I stop smoking or something along those lines. If I were to be there I would know, immediately, if it were a problem.
I wait at home. I am anxious. I feel useless.
This is like those times when you were a kid. You had done something wrong and you knew, as sure as night follows day, that your parents would know. Perhaps they were out and would know when they came back. Perhaps they were there and it was one of those things that they would find out about and you just didn’t know when.
And it’s the waiting that is the worst, of course.
And this is how I felt. I also worried that, after a full day at work, he was going to be doing lots of moving stuff to the car and from the car and it would be so much better if I were there to help. And it would be quicker.
And then I thought that, perhaps, he didn’t want me to be there because he wanted to spend the night at the old flat. The previous night had been restless for him. Apparently Dino had been restless and walking to and fro and playing and crying and other things. And then I thought that perhaps he just wanted to have a night apart. But why?
It got to 10 o’clock. I had heard nothing. I hadn’t taken a shower wanting to be ready, just in case he called for help. But now it was time for the dogs to go out. By now, after all my thinking, I had come to the conclusion that he was not going to be coming here for the night and didn’t want me to go to him and that was why he hadn’t phoned until now – leaving it too late for me to do anything – presented as a kind of fait accompli.
I decide to go out with the dogs; I won’t bother with a shower.
As I’m walking with the dogs I think about going to bed but staying fully dressed and lying on top of the bed so that, if he calls, I will be ready to go. Maybe the flat stank of smoke? Maybe he’s just had enough – with not having enough sleep the night before? Maybe I’m just being too much for him?
I hear the phone ringing in my pocket. My gloves mean that I can’t get the bloody thing out. The phone stops ringing just as I get it out of my pocket. I look at the missed call. It was F, of course. I phone him back. It starts ringing. Dino, just at this moment decides he must do the biggest poop ever. This means I cannot hold the phone to my ear, put them on short leads, open up the bag AND pick it up and dispose of it all at the same time. Something has to go. It is the call.
Not because I want to but because the poop is more, shall we say, pressing. Damn Dino! I pick it up and, as we are only a few minutes from home decide to wait until I am in the lift before trying again. We get in the lift and I take their leads off and try calling again. He answers.
‘Can I call you back in 10 minutes?’, he asks. Of course, I reply – I can tell he is carrying stuff.
He calls me back. I explain I was out with the dogs and why I called but couldn’t wait for him to answer. I ask him where he is. He explains he is in the car and is trying to find somewhere to park and then he will be with me.
‘But I still need to take a shower’, he states. I breathe a sigh of relief and tell him that I, too, must take a shower.
I finish my glass of wine. I feel guilty about having a glass of wine (well, in honesty, two). I don’t know why. But it’s like when I eat a bar of chocolate. It’s not that I’m lying about it and it’s not like it’s such a big deal that I feel I must tell him; it’s just like I don’t want his disapproval – like I am a child. I wonder why this is. It’s my house and my wine and I can drink it if I want. Still, even that doesn’t stop the feeling. It’s like I haven’t told him the whole truth – even if I have or had. I rinse the glass and stop myself from washing it up.
I start to undress. I notice that Dino and Rufus are making for the door. They have heard something (or, rather, Dino has heard something and is very excited – Rufus is just going along with it in that confused kind of way that he has now – that old people have when they know something is going on but have no idea what it is).
Then I hear it too. It is F, outside the door, making the slurping sounds that gets Dino so excited. I laugh.
I go and open the door. F is there, shirts on hangers in hand, a bag over one shoulder, with other bags and things. I keep Dino away from him so that the shirts will remain dry and not get wet from the Dino-slurp. He explains that he thought he would bring a few shirts and stuff so that he doesn’t have to worry about it for the next few days.
In spite of all the crazy child-like thoughts that have been going through my head all night, at this point, the child inside of me is jumping up and down and clapping my hands and shouting in sheer happiness – whilst the Andy on the outside just smiles and says of course that’s fine and why don’t you hang those in the wardrobe – which is what he does.
I go over and hug him and give him a kiss. He unpacks his bag.
‘This is for the bathroom’, he says as he hands me his washbag. I cheerfully take it there, whilst feeling stupid. Stupid for being so happy and stupid for having thought all those stupid thoughts all night.
Later I ask him about the smell in the flat and explain why. He says there was no smell other than ‘new wardrobe and bed and paint’. I am relieved, to say the least.
We have tea, showers and go to bed. He is cold, he says, as he is in bed before me.
I cuddle him and take his hand and put it on my stomach. He withdraws it and I ask why. He explains that his hand is so cold (which it is) that he doesn’t like touching my stomach, knowing it is so cold. I tell him it is fine and take it and hold it there, getting it warmer and making him feel better.
I resist the urge to tell him that I love him – even if it is true and even if I really want to tell him so that he knows.
And, he hasn’t moved in at all. He’s just staying with me for a few days although, he said, it could be for all of next week too. I think I curb my enthusiasm for this quite well. Or, at least, to the outside world. Or, rather, to him.