Today could be any day. It could be a birthday, or a wedding day, or a death day. Or it could be the day you discover your favourite film, it could be the day your first child is born. Today could be just another arbitrary day. For me, today is a triumph. A tiny, secret anniversary. A celebration somewhere deep inside that only I could possibly be aware of. Today, I have been somebody’s girlfriend for the longest time ever in my life. It is not a particularly long stretch of time, all things considered – and yet for me, it is the longest.
Given my track record with relationships, it is unsurprising that the longest time is relatively quite a short time. Yet in the course of my long, loyal life, it is almost nothing. A mere section of one of my many years. It is less time than the amount of time I have been growing mint on the windowsill. Less time then I have been using my gold rucksack and less time than I have owned my current Oyster card. I have bags of flour in my cupboard that have been in my life longer than this relationship. But still. It is also the longest time to be a girlfriend, and that counts for something.
It is not a real anniversary. Our anniversary arrives every month with cards and days out and presents in tissue paper. Today is not one of those days. Today is a day I acknowledge alone, whilst thinking of the many, many other stretches of time that did not last quite as long as this one. Hazy weeks, uncomfortable months, nights. It seems quite remarkable to have reached the day that marks the longest time.
I imagine breaking the news to a disbelieving and bemused me of the past. Hey, you know that really long time that was way too long to be a girlfriend and you never wanted to get anywhere near that? Remember? It turns out there is actually a longer time. One day, when checking your camera settings (while taking a picture of your feet, as you always do) there will be somebody there. Somebody who stands beside you and sees things you don’t and suddenly stoops to scatter leaves over your feet. It turns out they’re decorations for a photo you did not realise you were taking, part of a picture you did not see.