Not so rhetorical question: what happens when you fancy your neighbour?
My name is Lara and I have a confession to make: over the last five months, I’ve developed a raging crush on my neighbour. She’s quite literally the ‘girl next door’ and I’m smitten! I only know her first name, our love language is the endless pots of herbs she meticulously cultivates and leaves clipped on the Ikea stool on my side of our flats’ shared balcony but the feels are real. 🌿 Alright, lockdown and the lack of late nights spent trying to get a drink, a dance, and a date for Sunday brunch is clearly getting to me. I’m not the best at relationships, having committed to just two in my 36 years on earth and I never really was one for drawn-out love affairs but there’s something special about her that I just can’t brush this off as ‘another crush.’
After flitting from fuck buddy to fuck buddy in my 20’s, I eventually realised what I was looking for wasn’t the perfect man with the perfect penis, it was actually the perfect person with penis-esque accessories. Making the leap from dating men to dating women hasn’t been easy, my gaydar, (remember that phrase?) is prone to tuning to the wrong frequency and I still feel weird about labelling myself as ‘gay’, ‘queer’, ‘lesbian’… like, none of them feel quite right for me but I now know I’m definitely not straight. I can’t decipher her ‘interests’ and I can’t work up the courage to just ask,
‘so you’re into parsley, patchouli and penis, right?’
As the months have gone on and the likelihood of life returning to normal seems less and less likely, I’ve realised I’m happier continuing our regular-as-clockwork morning coffees surrounded by crumbling bricks and the light chat about cats, if we’re ‘Lemon and Herb’ or ‘Extra Hot’ people, and the strange intimacy that comes with sharing (at a distance) a living space during a global pandemic. As the weather turns and baking hot sunshine fills every cranny of my dusty studio flat, the balcony we share has become a refuge: my phone left behind on the kitchen counter and notifications from the Her app forgotten as we perch politely at each end of our domain.
Sometimes it’s better to leave things as they are, the bittersweet eternal joy of a probably unrequited crush, squirrelled away for the bearer to feel and never to be shared. Not very ‘Xtra Hot PERI-PERI’ behaviour but maybe, just maybe, when restrictions lift and masks are left to public transport alone and a leisurely red wine outside a Walthamstow deli is deemed safe, I’ll ask her for a drink.