9 // Guilt and gifts

The year was coming to a close and Christmas was just around the corner. By now, the last real man and I had been together for three months and everything seemed to be rolling along like any healthy relationship should – good times with no drama.

Gift giving is always stressful in new relationships, at least it seemed to be in this relationship. The last real man was happy to spend his money on me, but there was suddenly an uneasy atmosphere as soon as I presented something or would try and do something nice for him. This was my nature, I like to help and be involved. To me, these are the little things that make a relationship special. Love, care, help, appreciation and admiration become apparent through our actions, not our words.

It’s customary when you move into a new home, even more so when it’s your first home, to receive a housewarming gift. One evening I arrived with a swag of practical goodies: tea towels, dishwashing liquid, spray and wipe and a nice set of canisters for the last real man. Naturally, I was expecting a “thanks so much, you shouldn’t have,” but instead I got the look of death, and a comment along the lines of you shouldn’t be buying me things. Honestly, I thought my lovely, thoughtful, and usable gifts would be thrown right back at me and I booted out the door. Talk about act like an ungrateful child. I cared about this guy and I wanted to show this with my generosity, but it left me feeling like I’d done wrong. The following morning, after reflection, he did thank me.

Because of this incident, I was apprehensive about Christmas and gift giving. But surprisingly, it was the complete opposite. When Christmas came around he seemed appreciative and happy with what I’d selected. Although, I did only see the Elwood t-shirt I gave him twice, ever. Once on him and once on the bedroom floor (which seemed to double as a wardrobe most days). As for the bottle of Armani Code, well no one can really go wrong with that scent. Then, for shits and giggles, I also gave him a book called Drinking Games and Hangover Cures and some bed fart eradication mints. It was a loving gift with a light and fun hearted tone.

I love a practical gift; something I can use. Yes, I like a good bottle of Dior perfume or some beautiful jewellery as much as the next woman, but they aren’t things I can use regularly. When I was asked about what I’d like for Christmas all I asked for was a perfect pair of kitchen scissors. The look on his face was one of relief. I’m pretty sure he was expecting perfume or jewellery. “A pair of kitchen scissors?” he said. “Yes, you know, the ones that you can cut up a chicken with?” “OK, kitchen scissors it is! Well, that was easy,” he added.

If this guy was thinking I want or must have the best of everything, he’s got me totally wrong. Yes, I like beautiful things, and when hard work pays off I do reward myself with the odd luxury item, many people do, but I don’t live outside my means. I’m just as happy with a $20 handbag from Sportsgirl as I am with a $2000 one from Prada.

Along with my brilliant kitchen scissors (honestly, they are) I also received a pair of Havaianas thongs (which I still wear daily) and an excellent sleeping bag, which had its fair share of use at the music festival we were set to head to for New Years.

Christmas was sorted, and both boy and girl were happy. Little did I know that it would be the only Christmas we’d spend together.

8 // Making a house a home

Saturday nights were now spent at the bachelor pad. I was really starting to enjoy living life between two houses, mostly due to the contrast in locations. He was close to the beach and I was in the mountains. It was like living the best of both worlds.

God, I loved Saturday nights. After a week at the office the thought of snuggling up with my cuddly teddy bear (truly, he was) filled me with happiness. Once those arms grabbed me and pulled me close it was like a wave of calm washed over me and any fear or stress, vanished. Never before had I felt so safe and secure in someone’s arms. Never had I felt so loved and protected. At least, so I thought.

It was around this time that I also started to notice my random need for sleep. Some people thrive on a good nanna nap. Not me. I just need six to eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye to run for 15-hours. But recently, my body felt tired and I really didn’t know why. I had days where I felt like my legs would give way from under me, and sometimes, even trying to hold a conversation was a struggle. My personality even seemed off and my zest for life vanished. The last real man would have a dig at me from time to time for being grumpy or unhappy when I absolutely wasn’t. I put it down to a combination of work and old age.

This particular weekend we’d planned to check out a furniture auction. The last real man was on the hunt for a dining table and chairs. This place auctioned off top-brand gear at bargain prices and I found myself excited about our little excursion.

We arrived and viewed what was on offer. “What do you think of this?” he said, pointing to a modern round table with four chairs. “I like it, but it’s not very big,” I said. I found myself being asked lots of questions about colours, styles and comfort, and I felt like I was being of some value in the decision-making process.  We found our seats and the last real man went and registered to bid. “Here boss, you better hold this; it’s dangerous in my hands,” he laughed, and handed me a card with a number printed on it. “True,” I chuckled.

The auction started and we observed several items sold before the table and chair set came up. The original sale price was quoted at $1,900. My mouth dropped open and I looked at the last real man “I can see why it didn’t sell instore; no way is it worth that,” I said. The price started at $250 and a bidding war started. “What do you think?” he asked again. “It’s nice, but it’s small. I’d only buy it if it’s under $400.”. In the end, it went for far more than that. Next up was a $2,000 queen bed mattress. Bidding commenced at $50 and there was silence. The last real man pulled the card from my hand and raised his arm in the air. I looked at him, he shrugged “It’s $50, and I need a new mattress,” he said smiling.”The old one can go in the spare room.” Fair point I thought, the spare room only had a base at the moment. After a good five minutes the auctioneer called time and we walked away with a $2,000 queen bed mattress for $50. Bargain! The next step was to get it home, thank god we came in a Ute.

We went home briefly then returned to the warehouse to collect the goods. When we walked back in we headed over to the area that contained brand new items for sale, not auction, and the last real man became very taken with one particular dining package. “Do you like it?” he asked, “Yeah, I do actually. I think it’s a lot nicer than the one in the auction, and the price is good too.”

He walked over to the administration area to organise collection of the mattress, plus a wall clock he’d also picked up for $10. When he returned he said, “I’ve bought the table set too, I’m going to collect it tomorrow,” I smiled, talk about impulsive, but it was a very nice setting. As we waited around I noticed a nice sideboard and walked over to take a look. It matched the table setting the last real man had just bought. He came over to me. “How nice is that sideboard; it matches the table,” I said. He didn’t look hugely interested but did acknowledge it was nice. “Well, I really like it anyway,” I replied. Our number was called and we loaded up the roof-rack with our deal of the day. I enthusiastically jumped up on the footplate to help with the tie down. “Do you think it will hold?” I said, “Bloody hope so,” quipped the last real man. 10 minutes into our journey and things started to come loose on the roof. We pulled over, did a re-tie and laughed all the way home with our eyes on all mirrors.

Wednesday night was our regular mid-week dinner night. I’d been messaged photos of the new table set up and it looked great. But there was one surprise that the last real man was keeping from me (he was great at surprises!). I walked into the lounge to see the table and looking at me perfectly placed was the sideboard. I couldn’t believe it. “You got the sideboard,” I said with a huge grin on my face. “Well you liked it and I liked it so yeah, I got it too.” I kissed him and said, “It all looks great Mr. You have very good taste.” Hopefully he realised I wasn’t only referring to the furniture, but he did seem to be going to some effort to buy things that I approved of.