Romance Lesbian

I am so bad at buying gifts I almost got arrested. I blame the long distance relationship we were in, I could not think straight. Janey and I had lived up to the stereotype of U-haul lesbians, we moved in together after just three weeks of dating. To be fair, rent in the Bay Area is ridiculous, so we understood just being roommates would be OK even if it did not work out.

But it did work out, until she was accepted into her dream graduate school, and we had to stretch our relationship over three states, thinning the connections until the edges frayed. The zoom video calls and late night talks on the phone did not make up for being together in person. It bothered me that I forgot what her hair felt like what. I had to hold her favorite Giants sweatshirt to remind me of what she smelled like. Colorado is a long way from San Francisco.

It is not like I have much to say either, I prefer to listen than talk. I kept it together by focusing on my visit to Janey for her birthday. I couldn't wait. But I can not show up empty handed, and that is driving me nuts. My girl is all about presents, she described it as her ‘love language’. I had no idea what she was talking about. 

“You haven’t heard about the love languages?” Janey asked on one of the first late night calls. She loves to talk, and I loved to hear her voice, refreshing and light as a cool breeze from the mountains.   

“What is that humming sound?” I pressed the receiver hard against my ear, I wanted to hear every nuance of her voice.

“Oh, It’s Blue.”

“Blue, the dog, is humming?” 

“No!” The tinkle of her laugh stretched the hole she left in my heart.

 “Blue, the dog, is shedding, so I am vacuuming.”  

The humming of the vacuum came to define the late night calls to me, just as much as the lamp I turned on against the darkness outside. 

“I can't believe you haven't heard of love languages.” Janey said. 

“I am new to this love thing…” I muttered. 

“There are five, or maybe seven? I know five. Love languages are how one person expresses love to another.” Janey said. “Through words is one, or spending quality time with someone is another. Or physical touch, or service to others, or of course, gifts.” People have different ways of expressing how they feel about someone. Not everyone communicates their feelings in the same way.

“Hmm.” I said, not communicating at all. 

“You don't like gifts, I know that! " Again her tinkle of a laugh. "Amy, your love language is service to others. You always want to do things for me which is why being separate is hard for you.” 

“It is simpler than that Janey- this is hard because you are there and I am here!” 

Though as I spoke, I knew she was right. I did like being the one who could fix things, and be relied on to get things done.

“ What about you, what is your love language?” I asked

“What do you think?” Janey said, a smile in her voice.

“Gifts, gifts, gifts.” I said, grimacing. 

She is forever looking for me to get her something. And I can't stand it. I hate shopping, it is pure torture. Gifts mean spending money and I don't like spending money, even though I have enough. I don't even like receiving gifts, it makes me feel all weird inside. No presents please. 

I was not always like this, I like any kid, used to loved presents. I remember, there was one Christmas, I was 9, or maybe 10, and I really wanted a Tatooine Luke Skywalker Landspeeder Vehicle. It was the one Luke had to sell to get the money to pay Han Solo to get off the planet. My friend had one, and I wanted one too. 

I had seen it out at the toy store, had longed for it, seen all the pictures on the box. But it was pricey. I did not think my mom was going to get it for me, because, well she told me she wasn't. I needed a Christmas miracle.  

As Christmas got closer that year, I did not see any box in the right shape under the tree. Would I get it? What would I get instead, socks? It was almost Christmas! Christmas eve came, and still no box. I did not sleep at all that night listening for Santa, hoping.

I woke on Christmas Morning, and Santa had come. I saw the box! The right shape and size, and it had my name on it! I could feel the energy building in me. 

My parents were on a different timeline. They had to have their coffee, and the kids had hot cocoa while we waited. Then my dad’s tradition of making chocolate pancakes. It just made sense that to eat them as fast as possible, I needed extra syrup. My sister, younger, got to open her present first. I could barely control myself, my whole body vibrated with excitement. Finally my turn, I dove for the box. I ripped open the paper and saw the picture on the side- this was it! I opened the box, looked in, and felt a wave of emotion build inside of me. I got a Tatooine Luke Skywalker Landspeeder Vehicle! And then the wave of emotion crashed, and I puked right in the box. 

I know about getting excited about gifts. 

But now gift giving is hard for me, I just do not think about it. However, when I see my girl for the first time in two months I am going to do it right. I am going to have a wrapped gift in my hand. 

I took it on like a work project. I had a deliverable, and a deadline. I know about those, I am a construction manager, that is what I do all day long. I even put it in my project management tracking software. 

The idea for the perfect gift popped in my head on another one of our long, late night phone conversations. She will love it.

 I searched online, and ordered it for delivery, even paid extra for faster shipping. I am going to have the perfect gift.  

Until it didn't come. The morning before my trip I got an email that the shipment was delayed. My palms started to sweat, I could not screw this up. I had to find a store that carried it and pick it up all, before my early morning flight. 

I searched and searched and finally found a store with one in stock. The store was an hour away and closed in 45 minutes. I breathed deep.

The tires on my Subaru chirped as I peeled out of the parking lot. I would have made it by closing time, except for the motorcycle cop. 

There was no traffic, but the motorcycle cop was in the fast lane, cruising just below the speed limit. Passing a cop seemed like a bad idea, so I just waited behind him, my grip on the steering wheel getting tighter and tighter. I would never make up time at this pace! I got closer and closer to the motorcycle cop, my eyes flicking back and forth from the clock on the dashboard to the cop. What should I do?

 Suddenly the cop’s turn signal came on and the motorcycle moved over into the right lane.

Yes! I floored it. But then I saw the cop swerve behind me, and the blue and red lights flashed. 

I pulled over with tears streaming down my face.

A curious bug is what I saw walk up to me, the large helmet and mirrored sunglasses, expressionless staring. “What the hell are you doing tailgating me?" The cop's lower lip pushed out at me. "I could arrest you for threatening me with your vehicle.” 

“I'm trying to get to Concord before 5PM because-” I paused to let out a sob.

“-the last one in stock in the whole Bay Area is there and they are about to close and I need to get it today for my girlfriend because her love language is gifts!” I said all in one breath.

He looked at me like I was the curious bug, not saying anything for what seemed like forever.

“The gift love language- that is tough. My wife says I give terrible gifts.” He spat out a stream of tobacco. “Don’t tailgate cops and keep it to the speed limit. Good luck!”

I called ahead to the store and they waited for me. Getting pulled over by the police was a good excuse, I need to remember that one. I wrapped up my gift and made it to the airport and then to Colorado. I was so excited to see Janey.  

“Look what I have for you Janey- the perfect gift!” I held it out. My heart was wrapped up in this large, square box. 

Janey didn't even look at it, just put it down to give me a hug.  

“Don’t you want to open it now?” I said, not quite understanding. And you know what she said to me, after all my work to get the perfect gift? 

“I don't care about a present- I just want to see you!”

I learned a few things on that trip to see Janey. She is fluent in more than one love language. We worked through all the languages she knew about, and might have invented a few more. 

And, gifting a vacuum to a woman is generally a bad idea. Though she did appreciate the Roomba eventually, she did not puke in the box or anything. 

I gave up on the long distance relationship, I just could not do it. I moved out to Colorado. I figured they need construction managers here too. 

Now, we sit on the couch together to watch the Roomba vacuum, and I hold Janey's hand to listen to her stories over the soft humming .

November 22, 2022 23:43

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Helen A Smith
11:40 Nov 29, 2022

I liked the idea of there being many languages of love. I too struggle with gift-giving. Searching for the right gift is often stressful when it should be pleasurable. The greatest gift the narrator gave her partner was the gift of her presence. In my mind, nothing can beat that. Wanting to “hear every nuance of her voice.” You conveyed the love so well Marty


Marty B
17:38 Nov 29, 2022



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Michał Przywara
21:53 Nov 28, 2022

Damn, that opening line, my friend; perfect :) The story was sweet and funny, while still being believable, and it highlights the stresses of both gifts and long distance relationships. Finding common ground with the cop was a nice touch too, definitely in line with the giving theme. "And then the wave of emotion crashed, and I puked right in the box." Ha! Poor kid :) "And, gifting a vacuum to a woman is generally a bad idea." lol


Marty B
02:57 Nov 29, 2022

High praise! I myself need a translator with the 'gift' language-


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Delbert Griffith
14:20 Nov 24, 2022

The Roomba ending was nice. Sort of a cleansing in the relationship, no? Cool tale, Marty. It felt authentic and I liked the drama that was understated but still there. Nicely done.


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Tommy Goround
06:54 Nov 23, 2022

Oh. Robot vacuum! I thought it might be a vacuum that had really loud music so that you could dance. "Rumba" oops. A Cuban dance vacuum. Clapping


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Jack Bell
10:26 Dec 01, 2022

This is another fine story where "presents" are shown to be a pale imitation of "presence". In a world of material abundance, it seems a point of growing cultural anxiety. When giving a gift, it's supposed to be the thought that counts. Increasingly, the thought seems flaky. I think we need an austerity movement in this area. Enough with presents. From now, only meaningful acts of presence may be exchanged.


Marty B
18:51 Dec 01, 2022

Thanks!- I appreciate your meaningful words!


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