“Mhmmmmmm...a little to the right...” I sighed as I adjusted the frame what I swore was no more than a millimeter to the right, for the billionth goddamn time. I’m not too proud to say that I love Rakesh with my whole heart, but even true love’s patience could be tested by having to adjust the same frame for the last half an hour.
“Look, babe,” I pleaded, putting the painting down on the floor and rolling my shoulder to alleviate the stiffness in my arm, “I know I said I’d leave the place’s aesthetics all to you, but maybe we could take a break? Get a bite to eat?”
Sighing, Rakesh ran a hand through his thick locks, looking sheepish, “Yes, I apologize. This is just my first true taste of independence, and the stress has gotten to me very much. I don’t mean to be, what is the word, ah, a ‘control freak’.”
I smiled, and walked over to embrace him, kissing the top of his head, “It’s alright, I know how you feel. Our first apartment together is a big deal,” Even if it’s kind of a shithole, I thought to myself, “but we should just relax and enjoy ourselves for the first day, okay?”
“You are right, my dear,” he squeezed my midsection tightly before well pulled apart so he could reach into his pocket for his phone, “What would you like? My treat this time, as an apology.”
“It’s not something you need to make up to me or anything, but I’m not gonna turn down that offer. Let’s just go tried and true and say pizza.”
After Rekash made the call and one medium pork sausage and pepper pizza was headed our way, we decided to cuddle up on the couch and browse my laptop together. He tugged his legs up and nestled his head into where my next and shoulder met, while I rested an arm across his shoulder, a common position for us. The small bit of familiarity felt comforting in the empty white space of our new tiny, run down sixth floor apartment.
We decided to scroll Facebook for awhile, something we were both only brave enough to do together. A few posts down, we found exactly what made us so fearful.
“Ah, I see your cousin has finally had her baby.”
“Her second baby. She’s only like, what, twenty six? Twenty seven?”
“She is only two years older than you, so that sounds correct.”
My posture stiffed. People who would have only been a one or two grade levels above them already having multiple kids? Buying homes? Having their shit all together while the two of us are a pair of artists only barely above the line of “struggling”?
It stung, just a teeny bit.
Of course, like always, it was the adorably air headed Rakesh that came in with the unexpected words of wisdom, “She is living her life at her pace, while we live ours at our own. That is what she wants, and we have our own dreams to follow. Progress is not a race.”
I pulled him even closer into my side, giving him a good squeeze, “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t regret a damn thing, that's for sure.”
He smiled up at me, and I couldn’t resist the urge to kiss him, which he seemed to appreciate. He reached up to gentle touch my cheek, which I took as encouragement to press more firmly against him, deepening the kiss. We stayed like that for awhile, just leisurely kissing, before we were interrupted by the very rude knocking of the pizza delivery man that we were directly responsible for.
Rakesh broke the kiss, paused for a moment, dove in for one last peck and then put the laptop aside to go answer the door. He brought over the piping hot pie when the transaction finished, the delicious smell wafting over to my nose. I hummed in delight and clapped my hands together, “Alright, lets dig in, and then get back to decorating. Gotta make this place feel like home, right?”
“Most definitely,” he replied with a smile, reaching out to grab the hand I wasn’t actively using to open the box, “Though I can freely call wherever you are home.”
I could feel my cheeks getting hot, so I kissed his nose to distract from it, “Alright mister charmer, let’s get to eating.”
Smirking in satisfaction, he snagged a slice for himself, and we chatted the evening away over pizza and picture frames, becoming ever so slightly more comfortable in the place we hoped to call home.•