A late submission for National Poetry Day

Your Heart

“I don’t know how I feel”, say your words,
But I tell you that when you are close,
Your every breath betrays you.
Desperate exhalation,
Dancing fingers,
Wandering eyes.
A flash of lightning if I bite my lip.
A captured kiss.

“I can’t put it into words”, whispers your mouth,
But I tell you that every spoken thought
Fills me with the richness of your love.
Unconscious action,
Glance in my direction,
Thoughtful gesture.
Hidden away for me, because you knew it would raise a smile.
Short but heartfelt sentence.

“I can’t make sense of this” says your heart to mine,
Although you pretend your heart is carved of stone.
But I say, I can wait as long as it takes to be sure.
When every option
Has two winners,
And one desperate loser,
How can you be expected to choose, now or ever?
So we all wait.

In acknowledgement of our silent love.

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Reflections on a year of polyamory

candy-hearts-desktop-backgroundOn 24th August 2016, I began my journey into polyamory, with a date. I met a man on Tinder. His profile was short and to the point, and included photos of him with his wife and two of his three girlfriends. Prior to our meeting, he added me on Facebook, so that I could clearly see that his lovers knew each other, and that things were above board. Our date went well. Very well, actually, lasting into the wee hours of the morning.

It’s not the place here to log the rise and fall of that short ‘relationship’, but suffice to say, I was intrigued by the lifestyle that he and his wife shared, and I could see how it could apply to me.

I had often gotten into ‘trouble’ because of my tenancy to easily develop crushes and sometimes strong feelings for people while already in a relationship. Sometimes I enjoy the thrill of the chase. The dance, the push and pull of a flirtatious conversation, the deepening connection, the desire. To have the normality of this verified was a revelation. To live in a way which means I don’t have to deny it, is a godsend.

The last year had been a busy one. During this time, I have adjusted to life as a single mum, seen my son start and complete his reception year, and lived out my first year as a polyamorous person.

Over the last year, I have had my heart broken twice, and hurt another person quite badly. I have been on countless first dates, and a few second dates too. I have made new friends and lovers. Some of these will be fleeting. Others I hope to be a consistent force for good in my life. There are still people who I would like to give a chance to, and others who I hope give me a chance also. I have discovered new community, both online, and in actual life, within both the Poly and Kink scenes, helped by the frequent overlap of people in each. I am pushing myself, socially, romantically, kinkily. I have grown in confidence, seeing beauty and worthiness in myself, in a way that I don’t ever remember being able to do before.

I have had a myriad of new experiences, most of them involving being semi naked in public. I am discovering a new sense of exhibitionism within myself, which is so fun and exciting. I was already sex-positive, but this is more than that, digging into my new, more confident core.

Now, polyamory isn’t everything that it appears to promise. I’ve had four people call me ‘girlfriend’ in the last year, and only remain with one of them. Occasionally I feel disposable. I very definitely fall into the realm of ‘Solo’, which isn’t my eventual goal, and it’s hard not to feel envious of people who have partners who they can go home to. I am lucky enough to have a stable job, with people I care about to get me through the days when I don’t see people, as once my son is in bed, I’m on my own.

I’ve also seen that polyamory, which promises so much companionship and love, can be difficult for people who don’t fit the ‘mould’, especially when some get more interest than others.

For the most part though, my experience of the community is one in which I have gained support, laughs, strongly chemical attractions, surprise kisses, new experiences, a massive sense of self-worth, and a stronger sense of who I am as a grown woman, centred in myself, rather than dependant on the perceived ‘us’ of my marriage.

In the end, polyamory is what you make of it, in the same way that so many life choices are. Now I understand what it means, I would class myself as Poly, whether or not I live the lifestyle. There is one person I know of, who could persuade me to live monogamously once again, with no questions asked. But other than that one specific situation, I’m here to stay.

Thanks for Having Me.

Writer’s Block

Last week, I joined up to a new fad, a website in which people can leave anonymous messages for you. Without exception, these have been positive, and some have been beautiful and touching. I feel as though I have a very supportive group of people behind me.

Three or four of these messages referenced my writing, and these have been by far the most flattering for me, giving me some serious warm-and-fuzzies. But this week I’m struggling. I have so many things to get down, and I wanted it to be in poetry form, but all I can hear are snippets of other people’s songs.

I have a playlist of music that cuts me to the core. Sometimes because of the way the tune builds, sometimes it’s a lyric, partial, or whole. Some of these lyrics have overtaken all original thought, and I considered writing a poem based on these, but they are too many, too varied, and it may be another work in progress.

Three of my mental (and Spotify) playlist came from him. These were a surprise. We had an honest conversation in which he admitted that some songs spoke to him about us. I wonder if this is the way he experiences the world and his emotions, borrowing from other people’s words in order to lay claim to a feeling that he can’t process. I tried to fight this feeling/The feeling took me down. Even his writing the name of a song that did this to him made me want to cry. I didn’t immediately process which song it was from the title, and didn’t listen until bedtime. There was a sense of inertia while I listened. His choice was uniquely Him. I rarely consider Indie to be romantic in nature, even though so much probably is. Indie songs don’t feel like love songs, even when they are. Yet he had plucked two out of the air. They have been added to by a further conversation this week.

I am now experiencing my emotional life through a mixture of his songs, and if I’m honest, gin. It’s the only way I have to process his feelings. We are occasionally discussing this stuff, and music is the easiest way he has to give me insight. “See if you like…”, “This is one of my favourites…”. Again, I’m second guessing myself until I dare to ask the question. “Is this about us, to you?”

Our songs, as imagined by him:

BLUR: She’s so High

Embrace: Nature’s Law

Arctic Monkeys: 505.

All of them speak in various degrees of love, lust, desire and a terrifying uncertainty. My own mental playlist is much the same.

And my overriding sentiment remains the same. Can’t write my own words, because other people are saying it so much better. But: I love you.

Disclaimer: I’ve also just drink a lot of gin and watched the leaked GOT, so this isn’t my strongest place for quality writing!

The End of July

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I think quite a lot about what I should write here. I have lots of ideas for how I should write things down, then fail miserably when it comes to the typing.

Today I had a conversation which knocked me on my back, metaphorically speaking. After the incident of last week, little had really been said. In fact, in general, little has been said in words over years. Much of our conversation had been typed, vague, half-truths, much left to be communicated through glances.

Today, the person who was on the other side of this conversation opened his mouth and admitted that he had feelings for me. Out loud. I know this man. I possibly know him better than most, as he isn’t a very transparent person. This would not have been an easy thing for him to say. On Tuesday, he told me this via message and it hit me hard. It hit me harder again today to hear the words fall from his lips, two or three times. He was surprised that I didn’t know already. I tried to explain (although not very well) that knowing isn’t the same as knowing. I have spent months and years second guessing myself, wondering if it was possible. Interpreting certain things that he’s said. Examples of which have been scattered like the trail of white stones in Hansel and Gretel, leading to this moment.

“You’re my best friend in this place”.

“I’m not supposed to have favourites but…”

“You’re like my therapist”

“I always thought that something would happen, between you and I”

I took each of these phrases and many like them into myself and treasured them like jewels, in case they meant what I thought.

And they do.

I am loveable, and pretty, and hot, and most importantly, the best person in my life thinks so too. He has searched me for faults and found none, not even my (irritating – my word) determination. He can find no flaws strong enough to put him off me.

Now, I think I’m pretty flawed, so this is impressive. I’m an insufferable know-it-all, and a spelling and grammar pedant, I have bad skin and a flabby stomach. Sometimes I’m a little manic, as it’s the easiest way for me to cope. Occasionally I fly off the handle. While my confidence has grown (see one of my earlier posts), I still can’t see quite what he might see, but still. I have NO flaws that he can find. I wonder if I’ve been faking some sort of persona without realising it. But I have been spending the last 2 years living as authentically as I can, more on that later.

But then, there are no flaws that I can find in him either. I know they are there. He is emotionally distant. Apparently he is indecisive. Closed to change. Has ended up with a lot of odd routines that he can be endlessly teased about. But nothing is flaw enough.

We had the most in-depth discussion we have ever had out loud. And at the end, a hug. (Although, to my absolute shame, I tried to kiss him again, which hurts me to admit as he was trying so hard to be distant, and by behaviour was inexcusable and unfair to him).

I am more and less clear than I have ever been, following this conversation. I now know some of his feelings and the fantasies that he has had. The dreams of the hot affair, and the longings of starting some sort of life together. And my fantasies have run alongside this. I have thought of both. When I was still married, and all we had shared was a kiss, I dreamed of an affair with this beautiful man, who was all that my husband could never be. And when we slept together, I knew that if an affair was all he would offer me, that I would take it. And I still would. But my overwhelming desire would be that he would know that his life could maybe be better if he made a choice.

It’s a struggle to listen to him speak sometimes. It’s not fair for me to even say it here, but I will, because this space is mine. If he invades it, it is by his choice, knowing what I write here. When he talks of his relationship, it is always phrased in terms of obligation. “I should…”, “I ought to…”, “She has done x, so I should do y“. Never in terms of “I love her with all my being,” or phrases that could convey that to anyone who would listen or overhear.

And so today, verbally, a choice was made. One that he has made before. He has considered, and fantasized, and come to the same conclusion: That right now, he has no hope to offer me. But in his actions; he still hugged me, tighter than ever, he still set a hand to my shoulder as he came to collect my coffee mug. We shared a look that made my heart sink and dance within my stomach, even though we were three metres apart. He still commented on the beauty of my body, using that word. We talked idly about the sex we had, and our eyes met and smiled.

When I left my husband, I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever allow myself to be unhappy again. But I’ve found that this is not strictly true. Today, he said that this “had to stop, it’s not good for either of us”. But I disagree. It may not be easy. It may not be fair. But I quite strongly feel that taking the easy way out is not the way to go about life. Sometimes, that hard discussions must be had. Sometimes they will not go your way, and sometimes they will. Sometimes they will lay you low, but occasionally they will raise you high. Sometimes you need to be brave enough, and selfish enough to make a change in order to improve your own life for the better.

Right now, I’m low, but over the last eighteen months or so, I have been finding my groove. With each low, comes a high, and each high is slightly higher than the one before it. The lows are difficult, but none more so than the one before it. Sometimes the lows come in quick succession, and sometimes they are far between, but each is worth the journey I’m taking.

In owning my choices, and going along with them, I know I’m living more authentically. I don’t like the word, and one of my exes used it in a way which I will always remember and despise, but still… it is what I’m doing. I’m behaving as I see fit to bring me closer to the life I want to have. Sometimes this is disruptive, and there are probably people who don’t like it very much. But it’s nice to be myself, with fewer apologies about it. I’m not going to say sorry for actions which were mutually enjoyed.

So when he said “I don’t want to hurt you”, or “I dont’ want to give you hope”, I want to scream “DO IT!” Fucking GIVE me hope, hurt me. It’s no more than I’m doing to myself, and at least in feeling this, I know it’s because I tried. I did something about my feelings. I’m not the one who is sleeping each night in their safe house of passionless boredom. I have taken a chance, put myself out there. Allowed myself to feel, and push myself, and let myself fucking LIVE. I have been scared, and jealous and envious. Felt passion grip me, and carry me along. I have been responsible and then irresponsible, and never will anyone say about me that I didn’t take my chances. If I died tomorrow, the last thing I’d want anyone to say in my eulogy was “She always took the safe and steady course”.

Let me live my life unsafely, hoping, throwing myself into everything that comes my way, especially love.

Let people say that I have loved, even if I have lost. It is better than never having loved at all.

I’ve forgotten how to be ‘safe’. I only remember how to love you.

Post musically and emotionally sponsored by Don’t Let Go (Love)

Wisdom – A letter to you

Dear You,

I’m not known for my wisdom.

There is a long list of occasions on which I have not been wise.

In recent times, most of them have involved you.

I should probably leave time for processing before I write this, but I can’t resist. You know how it is. I think you can see how the words take me. How the emotion grips and won’t let go. Sometimes I think I’m an emotional masochist. In general, I’m cynical about love. I love love. I enjoy being in love. But I don’t believe that one love is likely to last forever, and I don’t like ‘soppiness’, about which I turn into a bitchy-eyeroller. My exception is you. There is an exquisite pain in my feelings for you. And I think you understand me, perhaps better than anyone.

You know what passed between us today. Usually, our sober interaction sticks at light flirting, sometimes a pleading look, a hug, a tingle. We have touched in the past and it has been when drunk, to the point of wondering if you only felt the desire after a beer or four. Then there is a sense of ‘que sara sara’, a throwing of caution to the wind. Loose limbed, wrapping around each other, hands skipping over each others backs. Eyes liquid, breaths heavy.

Today was this and more. Sitting in silence, trying not to react. Initially I sat away. I tried, I really did. An earlier incident had opened us to this. A quick grasp of the shoulder. Innocent you claimed, but I can’t believe that, as I know you wouldn’t do it to anyone else. When you touched me, I froze and you walked into me, body to body. There was a hideous moment of panic. Breath caught in throat, my hand on your belly. Face red, eyes closed, trying not to meet yours. And having to leave you there, when I wanted you to take me across the glass table.

Later, I sat outside, wondering if you would come to me. Sometimes you do. It’s nice out there if you can ignore the traffic. Today was cold, and I was finishing a book. At the time I had completed the first, I had also finished eating. It was chilly without my hot food, and I thought inside would be better. As I walked passed the window, I saw feet. I didn’t know they were yours until I opened the inside door, but I’m not a stupid girl, I knew the probability (roughly 50%) and took my chances. I’m not sure if I won or lost to be honest. It was you, and I tried to ignore you for the good of us both. I turned my music to the highest volume and tried to start my next book. Without looking at you directly, even the movement of your feet was a distraction. I felt the same as I did when I first fell for you, that every movement of your body was linked to me. I could feel it without seeing. We chatted vaguely, avoiding each other’s gaze. You told me of an article about polyamory that you saw on the BBC. I moved to sit next to you as you found it. I half expected you to pass me the phone to read, but instead you held it as a video played, I was captured next to you, head angled to watch.

And then, I couldn’t move. I didn’t move at all. My hand splayed across my own thigh. I watched the rough inch between our legs alter, sometimes greater, sometimes lesser as you awkwardly moved your feet on the stool next to us. There was radio silence. For at least a minute. Maybe a minute and a half. I watched your hand, eyes flickered up to your face. I felt you were doing the same, but I didn’t catch you in the act.

Like some corny romance, we opened our mouths and spoke instantaneously. You can’t even make this shit up. We stopped and laughed, and repeated ourselves in turn. But the tension had not been broken.

And the whole time, my breath was shallow, hitching with every other intake. My arms hot and feeling heavy. Teeth biting lip, brow furrowed. Eyes flitting side to side, from my knee to yours. And I took my unwise move and looked at you directly.

“We shouldn’t sit together in private”. “I know. I just want to pounce on you”. My playful use of the word ‘pounce’ belied the danger of what we were doing. You looked at me, and I did it. I don’t know if you expected it. I feel as though the move made had been mine. But you were the one to apologise. Never fucking say sorry. Your lips and mine belong together.

There was a sense of inevitability. Of unfinished business. Of long-time waiting. Longing. Palpable. Crackling between us like electricity. I’m surprised there was no physical static, as I felt it in my body. We both knew something would happen. I couldn’t tell if we hoped for, or dreaded it. Probably both in equal measure. I could hardly breathe, waiting to see if you’d meet eye. The desperation in your eventual slow gaze spoke volumes to me. You didn’t want the full responsibility. You were afraid, but full of desire and longing and heat. You were glad I made the initial leaning move, biting my lip and staring into your eyes, waiting for you to stop me as I moved toward you. I was too hot in my jumper, but no time to remove, which would break the spell we had created between us. My body created so much heat from your proximity, and you matched it in full.

And you were on top of me, suddenly, your delicious weight on me. Nothing more than a kiss. No wondering hands, but one of the best kisses of my life without that. We stood and the tension didn’t move. We hugged, you kissed my head and pressed me to you. We had to leave the room but I just wanted to kiss you again, and again, for that moment to never end. To run away and never stop running as long as you were by my side. I was shaking and later you admitted that you had been too.

And here’s where the struggle lies. I can say this here, because I’m only 50% certain that you read what I write, and I’m safe from knowing that you have unless you tell me so. If I say it in life, you will use avoidance tactics through your fear, and I will feel sad:

I know why you have to ignore it. I feel strongly that you are not really very happy, but you don’t like change. What we could have would mean change. It would mean hurting someone. But you know how I feel. I’m sure of it. I joke, and laugh, and flirt, and make it seemingly about sex. But this is not about sex. It never has been with you. It’s about the utter love I have for the bones of you. I don’t even know if you understand ‘love’ any more, but I have a feeling that you are as close as you can be to it. I know I am important to you, in your own way. I don’t know how that compares, but from the look in your eyes, I can hazard a guess and it kills me that we can’t or don’t act.

So there it is. Laid bare in my foolishness. I love you. I have done for almost three years. I can’t imagine that it will go away. I expect that nothing further will happen, other than the occasional stolen kiss, threading joy and heartache through me. You mark me with every glance, Every ambiguous word. This evening, you waited for me when you didn’t have to. You held the door and pressed your hand to my back. “You don’t like to make it easier, do you”, I muttered, and you gave me a filthy grin. You know as well as I do that there is a camera that would catch that action. For the first time, you have been the instigator, and I wonder if the balance is altering. If you could learn to love me too. If it is more than lust. If it is more than friendship. If it is worth taking a risk for, as it has always been for me.

I would like you to listen to something. This is what I was listening to when I had my earphones in. There are many pieces of music which speak to me where you are concerned, for all sorts of reasons. Some of them are not connected to you, but give me a certain delicious pain behind my eyes, which doubles or triples if I squeeze them shut. I did this this afternoon, and tapped out the beautiful, dangerous rhythm on the counter, and felt you try to stop your eyes running over my fingers and wrist. From about 3:50 is the worst bit for me. When I feel the exquisite pain the most. Another song on the same album almost made me cry while I waited at the traffic lights. You could listen to the album, which I would strongly recommend, but for ease, the track in question is called Burning.

I feel as though I have spent months, years, toying with you. Flirting, playing, making you notice me. Being in your eyeline. I have made serious changes in that time. As a direct result of my love for you, I ended my marriage. We don’t speak about that directly, but we both know it was the right thing to do. We also both know that it was our first kiss that pushed me into such desperate movement. I know you have been involved in this for some time, (lets face it, it’s almost two years since our first kiss) but your actions tonight show that something has changed, your momentary wait, your hand to my waist. you’re somehow in the game.

I want to see where it leads.

Do you?

With all my fucking love,

Me.

PS. You know where I am. How to contact me, and that my door will be open for you at any time.

On the Fleeting Nature of Love

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This is an article that I have been writing in my head for hours, with a different focus each time I begin. This morning, a friend of mine shared this short but beautiful blog post. It was written by a woman who had no time for lovers who did not adore her stretchmarked body, her rounded stomach in particular. The writing felt like poetry although it was prose, and it made me want to write. My problem is, that whenever I write, it becomes intensely personal, more of a journal than a musing. I’m not sure that’s what I want from this post, although it has its place. I’ll come back to it, but for now my thinking has taken it elsewhere.

The success of love is measured in its longevity. Society celebrates couples who marry at twenty and die at ninety, with newspaper articles, heralding their seventy years of ‘forsaking all others’. Their success is measured in time and ceremony, typically with a wedding, a funeral and several births in between. Nothing is said of hardship, of days and nights together or apart, or one partner complaining about washing their other’s socks, while the second moans about the first farting in bed. The times one of them threw plates across the room, or locked the other out at midnight. Success is measured in quantity not in quality.

By this paradigm, my parent’s relationship is ready to be lauded as the Gold Standard™. More than forty-five years, several slightly expansive house moves, two nicely spoken children, three gorgeous grandchildren and an easy retirement with no mortgage. My folks have the best marriage. From the outside. Inside, it’s vaguely traumatic. Gaslighting, bullying, attempted financial control is considered normal and is an ‘in-joke’ (“don’t tell *** I got you this!”). One partner has been trying to leave the other for over 20 years and hasn’t managed it yet. Gold Fucking Standard, my arse. And no opportunity for more love, or personal growth. Just more bitterness, and probably a lot of time trying to think what they could say at each other’s funerals.

In contrast to their marriage, both of their children have ended up as single parents with one failed marriage apiece. Neither of us are likely to opt to marry again. Once bitten, twice shy, although my sibling is in a wonderful long term relationship with a beautiful woman. I haven’t talked to the Sibling in a while, but I think that both of us are happier than them.

By the social standard, my polyamorous relationships so far have been dashing failures. Lasting four months, three months, and six months apiece. In one case, we slept only three nights under the same roof. I’m classing a relationship here, as one in which the word ‘girlfriend’ has been mentioned by both parties, although there is a post brewing for sure about the language descriptors used for polyamorous relationships, and ensuring all parties are on the same page!

My preference is for at least one long term, stable relationship, although two would be lovely, and perhaps some satellite lovers. It would be nice if I find someone who would like to live with me in all honesty, but in trying to find the positives of what I’m currently going through, I’m reminding myself that there is value in fleeting love and that time spent does not sum up that value.

When I explained Polyamory to my mother, she was concerned that I was going to get hurt. I think she expected that I would fall as prey to men who just wanted sex. And in some cases, that has been true, including in the case of one of my ‘relationships’. But in each case, whether I was considered to be part of a relationship, or whether the time spent was more clearly about having a good time, I was never left to feel devalued or worthless. I have been hurt, very badly, and I have hurt somebody else, through poor communication, but these encounters have been worth it every time. Each ‘love’, no matter how fleeting, has given me room and space to grow and learn, about other people and about myself.

At the end of my marriage, a little over a year ago, and before I began my first forays into polyamory, I was a positive wallflower. I felt dull, dreary, as though my intelligence was sinking into a mire. I was just ‘mum’, which is almost a non-identity. Every parent at school is ‘mum’. It doesn’t even warrant a capital letter. It’s not my name, but a huge group of people only know me as “X’s mum”. I assumed nobody would find me attractive. Now, I am confident, know that I’m sexy, funny, a person that people enjoy spending time with. It’s not me being vain (not really), it’s how I’ve been made to feel. And I portray those aspects every day, more than I ever did when I was in a ‘successful’ relationship. Because I believe those things about myself, they shine through more.

The relationships that have had this effect, aren’t the long term efforts. They aren’t my marriage, which dragged me down until I felt like a non-entity. They aren’t my parents’ marriage, which has left them feeling embittered about their lives. They are the fleeting loves, where there has been no need to hold back. Where each new experience leads to nights awake, chatting in each others’ arms. Learning about each other with each new word. For that time, I am not taken for granted, I am not an afterthought. During that time, with someone new, I am made to feel like the best version of myself.

Not all of these times have ended in tears. Some have ended with an assumption that we probably won’t speak again. Some have fizzled out. Some I may hear from again. One I still feel bitterness about, and one sadness. One beautiful encounter will live always in my mind, along with words he probably won’t remember speaking. “Your body is beautiful. Never be ashamed of it.” This is the person who knows me best in all things.

Perhaps it’s time we stop measuring the ‘success’ of a love in time served.

Perhaps we should measure each fleeting love in the amount of love it makes you feel for yourself.

Forgetting

Things are slipping away.
I no longer remember in detail
How your smooth strong body
Felt against my skin.
I can’t recall our entire conversation.
How I teased you to bring you
Under my spell.
I’m losing the hours in the dark,
And the time my hands fumbled
With your clothes.
I can not remember the taste of you.

I no longer remember in detail
How your smooth strong body
Felt against my skin.
But my heart recalls the weight
As you covered me.

I can’t memorise our entire conversation.
How I teased you to bring you
Under my spell.
But I can see you biting your lip as you
Answer the question we both ask. “Will you?”

I’m losing the passage of hours in the dark
But I can relive the way your
teeth gleamed as you smiled,
Nervous as desire warred in you.

My hands had fumbled with your clothes.
I can’t recall how your buttons
Moved under my fingers,
But I know well how it feels to press
My cheek against your shirted chest.

I cannot remember the exact taste of you
But your smell makes me close my eyes
And just feel.

Occassionally, a bittersweet moment
Will flash into my day,
Rational behaviour aside.

The way I was desperate to bite you.
To mark you as mine.
The solidity of your hard thigh under my hand.
The sound of low laughter in your moans when you
Stroked my skin. I could hear the grin within
As though you had rolled a double six.
The in-joke. “10 out of 10”.
The music in the car.

Sometimes a moment is too much for me.
Pressure builds behind my closed eyes
And at those times, one line speaks
Above all others.
“Immerse your soul in love”
This music is how you smell to me.

Penultimate line, courtesy of Radiohead, Fade Out, from The Bends