your baskets! The ingredients you must use in your dish are…”
sets the remote control on the coffee table, next to an empty pint of
Ben & Jerry’s and two spoons resting on the upturned ice cream
lid. Chopped is a show that they can both agree on; Enjolras likes
to learn new tricks he can use in the kitchen (he really is
getting better at cooking, he insists as Courfeyrac teases him),
while Courfeyrac enjoys most any kind of reality competition show.
two of them had been sitting together on the couch, with Courfeyrac’s
head on Enjolras’s shoulder. When Enjolras sits back again after
setting down the remote, Courfeyrac leans against him and rests his
head where it had been before, snuggling close to him. Enjolras’s
hand comes to rest on top of Courfeyrac’s, and he rubs his thumb
gently against the back of his friend’s hand.
a moment, Courfeyrac lifts his head. Enjolras looks over at him,
curious, and the look on Courfeyrac’s face is not one he recognizes.
Courfeyrac takes a deep breath.
Another breath. “Um.”
Enjolras is even more curious now. Courfeyrac’s tone of voice
doesn’t worry him, exactly, but it makes him feel uncertain.
next few words sound as cautious as Enjolras feels. “What are we?”
definitely looks confused. But Courfeyrac barely gives him time to
think before backpedalling. “Scratch that. Don’t answer that.
I’m sorry.” His hand stiffens under Enjolras’s, and he looks down
at it, then back up at Enjolras, as if to ask if this was still okay.
smiles that gentle smile of his, the one that warms something in
Courfeyrac’s chest, and squeezes his hand. “It’s all right.”
shakes his head. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just I’ve never done
anything like this before. I don’t really do the romance thing, and
I know you’ve said you don’t either, but it’s—.”
leans in quickly to kiss Courfeyrac on the cheek. It works as he
intended, and Courfeyrac cuts himself off mid-sentence. “It’s
really all right. Honestly, I don’t have a word for this either.
But… that’s fine, yeah?”
eyebrows flash up for a brief moment, then sighs with relief. “Yeah.
Yeah, that’s fine.”
nestles back into the couch and pats his shoulder. “Come on, the
judging’s about to start.”
laughs and flops back down, his head finding Enjolras’s shoulder as
his hand reaches for his friend’s hand.
When I was a kid, the most thrilling thing that could happen to me was getting permission to have a friend stay the night. These sleepovers were so much fun that I was sure when I grew up I would live in a giant house with all of my friends forever. (I never wondered who would do the dishes.)
Nearly everyone I know had similar daydreams, but this is something we are supposed to grow out of, and replace with daydreams about living with a romantic partner.
This isn’t entirely going as planned for our society. It seems like every few weeks an article is circulated that inspires a giant online hand-wringing about millennials resisting committed romantic relationships, or Gen Xers continuing to have roommates. (“The millennial generation lacks the ability to love!” “Meet the people flatsharing in their 40s!”)
We’ve collectively decided that people who live with their friends have failed terribly, people who live with a partner have achieved incredible domestic success, and people who live alone or don’t centre their lives around romance are possibly just broken.
We are all encouraged to work hard to have stable lives. But at the same time, we’re encouraged to anchor our lives around the relationship that is the least stable.
It is uncomfortable to think of romantic love in those terms, but it’s not inaccurate.