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And they said they felt they could have had perfection, only coming across each other at the wrong point in life, one always in tow, or just wide of the course toward which they both ultimately tended. It seemed to them so much to lack fairness, like all life had conspired to make it hard, and so near impossible, despite that same life having conspired to bring them together in the first place. They realised too, that the difference between twenty and twenty-eight is far greater than that between thirty and thirty-eight; so were maybe ten years out of kilter with a full and easy life together. He was twenty and still wanted mistakes and failings, the thrill of them, and to not be so fucking serious all the time. To work shit jobs and to rent apartments in the wrong places and fail to get it together for at least a few years, which some part of him felt was grounding. And besides, it was what she had done – gone scrappily through the world on not enough sleep, and done things wrong and enjoyed that she had. At twenty-eight living a 24-hour coffee-enabled life was no longer what she wanted, needed, and yes so what if it was sad, she really did get fucking excited about having a mortgage and going to cavernous outlet stores to buy garden furniture. It wasn’t that her adventuring was over and all the romance drained with it, but that it was merely transposed down to a lower key, deeper and, she felt, more foundational. Yet she still wanted him to be able to tinkle about like a piccolo, and he wanted her to live in that new slower world in which she could better come to grips with her current reality. But as they did not converge they tried forcing it, therefore coming down and coming up to a life in between them of about twenty-four, a neither here nor there which suffered all of the instabilities with none of their dumb excitable hectic joy. He had begun to take his way, and she hers, and though momentarily converging, the two having met would not now join. It was a fixed thing, and you felt you could bring someone along with you but not move over to them. Not out of something stubborn, or selfish, but the mere matter of what was, and what would be; allowing him to go on fine and part-fulfilled by work which gave him nothing but money; and told her she could never again do something if it weren’t for the love of it. The different points along they had reached meant they were both suited to where they were at. But neither could be suited to what suited the other. And the painful thing, what they couldn’t quite understand and what made it now so frustrating and hard, was that this was nothing to do with them. They couldn’t change, and didn’t need to. They had to come to terms with the fact of being unequal, at this moment at least, and there was no getting around it or making it go away. So he was driving home and tears were stinging his eyes and he couldn’t really see his way forward, and she stayed put with her eyes stung by tears and saw too well, both of them pained by it not working and pained further still by the knowledge it was out of their hands.