18 November 2009


So. My friend B. has been visiting, staying with me for a week. When he first wrote and asked if he could stay in my room, I was hesitant: we knew each other last year, but I wouldn't say we were close, and in fact we were different in ways that seemed to indicate deep incompatibility. But when someone writes to you and says they've always thought of you as a friend; you've suggested that they could come visit; now they want to come visit and they want to stay with you - you can't really say no, can you? So I said yes, and he arrived.

And, in fact, it isn't bad. It turns out you don't really know a person until they come live in your room. This makes sense, if you think about it and interpret it literally (by which I mean, don't substitute "house" for "room"). You and the other person are in a small space, and even if you're only both there for a couple of hours before you go to bed, that's still the time of day when you're unwinding and thinking most ramblingly. Plus, you see somebody brushing their teeth, and that's pretty intimate (I used to have a friend in college who couldn't stand people brushing their teeth outside the bathroom: for him, you brushed your teeth in private and in a designated area). So one way and another, just by virtue of being around, B and I have managed to discuss what makes someone smart, feminism, finding love, the personalities of some of our friends, our families, our siblings, how he feels about his life, and the plusses and minuses of capitalism. And although nothing untoward has occurred (yes, back down, hopers! This was suggested to me as a solution to my problems as early as February [which seems years ago], but I don't think either of us is interested), I can see now how those "last man on earth/arranged marriage with a semi-stranger" scenarios could work out. Because if the person is always around, and if they're reasonably pleasant and thoughtful (good heavens, he volunteered to make me, and then made me, a cup of tea!), they do grow on you. Purely by virtue of being constantly thrown in the way of someone not totally anathemic, you become attached - and by being exposed to that person you discover they have opinions and thoughts of a type you'd never have expected, and these pleasant discoveries increase your liking of them.

With the result, in this case, that now that B has gone off to a conference for a couple of days I find myself rather missing him - or at least finding it odd that he's not around. And also find myself thinking that my life will be fractionally the poorer when he leaves for good on Sunday. Which I certainly did not think when he left for what was supposed to be forever this July.

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