Today I woke up at the alarm at 6:30am. I roll over and spoon his sleeping form, smiling a secret smile. The room is stuffy and uneasy, too hot with the heating on, so I roll back over and switch the lamp on before I fall asleep again. I shower in my usual routine and am back in our room in under 8 minutes. I moisturise, blow dry and straighten my fringe, apply make-up in deft swipes and look out of the window. I go into the kitchen, hold my breath and drink a bottle of activia. I leave the flat, go down the fire escape and walk to work.
I move through the city and notice the pavements, glistening with dewy rain. Everything is grey. Charcoal, achromatic, monochrome.
I squint and it looks almost sparkly. I see at the builders, waiting on the wall outside the library. They meet there at 7:30am each day and talk Polish and smoke cigarettes and don’t look at me twice when I walk past. I wonder if they’d look at me if I wasn’t wearing my oversized coat. I walk past Groom and look at the wedding suits in the window. I walk down the alleyway and feel content knowing I’m about to see My Church. I overtake a slow walking man with an umbrella and the secret smile appears again . I win the race.
I arrive at work, and by the time I finish I have a hard tight knot between my shoulder blades.
But when I leave the air is crisp as it has been raining again. The wind tastes amazing. I put my headphones in and listen to Bruce Springsteen. The way he sings makes a picture of my head that looks a bit like the West Side Story film looks. I put my head down and march until my calves feel hot.
I get home and run up the stairs as fast as I can, my heartbeat quickening and my bag pulling my right shoulder down slightly. I leave my bag on the kitchen table, kick off my shoes, and glide into the living room.
I’ve had a love affair with the streets of my city, my footsteps beating out its pulse, the heartbeat of water gushing through gutters and swirling happily down drains. And as my other love envelops me in his big gentle arms, I smile my secret smile because tomorrow I can do it all over again.